Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body- so get ready for a good workout in the English Department.

"Learning gives creativity, creativity leads to thinking and thinking provides knowledge, which makes you a better person."

Key Stage 3 (Years 7, 8 and 9)

Year 7

  • Who We Are
  • Myths and Legends
  • ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell
  • Poetry- Past and Present
  • Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Theatre
  • Survival

Year 8

  • Introduction to Gothic Literature
  • Who We Are
  • ‘Romeo and Juliet’
  • ‘A Monster Calls’ by Patrick Ness
  • An introduction to 19th Century Literature

Year 9

  • Introduction to GCSE English Language – Fiction and Non-Fiction Extracts
  • Poetry Anthology and Unseen Poetry
  • ‘An Inspector Calls’ by J. B. Priestley
  • English Language Paper 2 Sections A and B
  • Debating

Key Stage 4 English Language and Literature

All students of The Cardinal Wiseman School study English Language and Literature where they enjoy exposure to a wide breadth of classical and modern texts and develop communication skills which will help prepare them for further education and life beyond. The department has an outstanding track record of high achievement and a team consisting of dynamic young teachers and seasoned professionals all of whom are committed to each student achieving their potential. There is no ‘foundation’ level, so the vast majority of students will sit Literature and Language exams (two papers for each) and, ultimately, attain a grade between levels 1-9 for both subjects. A small number of students follow the ‘Step-Up to English’ syllabus (usually in conjunction with the GCSEs) to enable them to acquire important basic skills of reading and writing.

Students at Cardinal Wiseman follow the AQA GCSE English Language specification (course code 8700) alongside the AQA GCSE English Literature Specification (course code 8702). Further details of these are available at http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/gcse

Year 10

Having completed some important content and skills-based GCSE work in Year 9, students in Year 10 are taken through a multi-faceted and enriching year with a range of challenging but highly rewarding units of study.

Important Language skills are taught and developed in relation to both reading and writing. The year includes the tackling of section A and B of Language Paper 1 which focuses on the ability to analyse creative fiction texts and, for section B, devise compelling descriptive or narrative pieces of their own. In Year 10, the students will also carry out important work on Section A of Language Paper 2 which tests their ability to read non-fiction texts, analyse specific points of view and show skills of inference. At the end of the year, the students will prepare their Spoken Language topics and, time permitting, deliver their speeches to a live audience (the teacher and members of the class) for this component of the GCSE.

Literature work in Year 10 begins with Charles Dickens’ masterpiece, A Christmas Carol, studied throughout the first term and the romantic relationship poems from the AQA ‘Poems – Past and Present’ anthology (Love and Relationships cluster). Close reading of the texts and developing skills of structured analysis are key to success in Literature and students continue to build on these aspects

throughout the year as well as the ability to compare which underpins the poetry component of the course. Details of the texts are provided below:

  • A Christmas Carol: Penguin Classics Edition ISBN-13: 978-0-140-43905-2 (Parents/carers provide students with their own copy)
  • Anthology: AQA Anthology of Poetry - poems past and present (School provides all students with a copy free of charge)

Year 11

This is an intense year with the primary aim of ensuring that all students are fully prepared for the summer exams and go into them confident that they will achieve their potential. The department has a very strong record of delivering.

The first term is largely spent studying Shakespeare’s seminal tragedy Macbeth. Work is foregrounded with a focus on the context of Jacobean England before the students are immersed in the text itself with teachers providing close support and guidance on the nuances of Shakespeare’s language in this play. Study of Macbeth is usually complemented with watching a filmed performance to harness understanding. Details of the Macbeth edition studied by Cardinal Wiseman students are outlined below:

  • Oxford School Shakespeare: Macbeth ISBN-13: 978-0198324003   (Parents/carers provide students with their own copy)

During this term, one lesson a week is also dedicated to revising content and skills from across the Literature and Language curricula.

By the end of the first term, the content has usually been covered in its entirety and focus now shifts to a sustained focus on revision and exam practice. Revisiting and recapping on both sections of English Language Paper 2 is a priority after Christmas and detailed feedback is also provided on the mock examinations from the previous term. With each student having their own targets for improving performance in exams, the pattern now moves to short sequences of preparation lessons followed by assessments. Compulsory revision classes after school are an important part of this process. Experience has shown that frequent testing enables students to build confidence, identify priority targets and embed learning which all combine to enable peak performances to be reached by the summer. Any Spoken Language presentations not delivered in Year 10 are also completed during this time.

GCSE Curriculum Components (Summary)

English Language (AQA 8700)

  • Paper 1 - ‘Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing’ (1 fictional extract for Section A)
  • Exam, 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Paper 2 - ‘Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives (2 non-fiction extracts for Section A)
  • English Language Spoken Language (AQA, Non-Exam Assessment)

English Literature (AQA 8702)

  • Paper 1 - ‘Shakespeare and the 19th Century Novel’ (Macbeth and A Christmas Carol)
  • Exam, 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Paper 2 - ‘Modern Texts and Poetry’ (An Inspector Calls, Anthology Poems ‘Love and Relationships’, Unseen Poetry)
  • Exam, 2 hours 15 minutes

Success and Achievements

The last externally-assessed GCSEs took place in 2019. (The Covid pandemic led to centre assessed and teacher assessed grades in 2020 and 2021).

Cardinal Wiseman students have consistently attained Language and Literature GCSE grades significantly higher than national averages. The average grade 9-4 figures for 2019 are outlined below:

  • Wiseman GCSE Language average (9-4): 88%
  • Wiseman GCSE Literature average (9-4): 89%

KS5 English Literature (Years’ 12 and 13) 

Exam board:  OCR

Content description: 

  • Component 1: Drama and poetry pre-1900               
  • Component 2: Comparative and Contextual Study 
  • Component 3: Literature post-1900 (Coursework)                

This is a highly challenging, but enjoyable option for students who love literature. Shakespeare and other key pre-twentieth century writers, including Mary Shelley and John Milton are studied, as well as canonical drama and poetry. Students will study writing techniques, themes and genres as well as the social and literary contexts influencing set works. Candidates build up critical skills which examine the ways in which ideas are presented by writers as well as being able to evaluate critical responses to texts. 

KS 5 English Language (Years’ 12 and 13) 

Exam board: AQA  

Subject content:  

  • Textual variations and representations  
  • Children’s language development  
  • Language diversity and change  
  • Language discourses  
  • Original writing  
  • Language Investigation 


The course offers opportunities to explore a wide range of texts and discourses critically and analytically. We reflect and expose language use on individual, social and large-scale contexts, drawing on sociolinguistics, regional, national, and global English. Student independent lines of enquiry are investigated and pursued through non-exam assessments, producing independent research into their own interests of language in use. 

Wider Learning and Enrichment Opportunities

In collaboration with other Ealing borough schools, you will attend an English Language and Linguistics Conference.