The Removes & Fifths
IGCSE English and English Literature
English is a compulsory subject in the National Curriculum. Therefore, all boys traditionally follow a two year course leading to an IGCSE in English (commonly known as ‘English Language’), and most boys also take an IGCSE in English Literature. The decision as to which sets will take both is made year by year, according to the strengths and needs of the boys. The Language-only course still contains a significant literature content, since the teaching of good language skills grows out of the reading and study of high quality literature, including Shakespeare.
We believe that the education which the IGCSE course offers is far more valuable, interesting, and rigorous than the alternatives which are on offer, and yet it is still an exam in which our students are capable of performing very well, as results in recent years have shown. The IGCSE course keeps the boys stimulated, and prepares them much better for 6th Form study.
IGCSE First Language English
Radley follows the IGCSE course administered by Cambridge International Examinations. All boys follow a two-year course leading to an IGCSE in First Language English (commonly known as ‘English Language’).
Students sit one examination. They are provided with two extracts of quality non-fiction writing, and are asked three questions:
- A recreative task, which tests their ability to read and sift with subtlety, and to re-use material for a specific purpose in an entertaining way
- An analytical task, which tests their understanding of the writer’s style and technique
- A summary task, which tests their ability to read with logical discrimination.
Students submit a folder which contains three pieces of work as follows:
- An argumentative, persuasive or informative essay (such as an article for a magazine or newspaper). Boys are encouraged to conduct individual research on topics of their own choosing. Past subjects have included the Russian invasion of South Ossetia, the origins of gang violence, the value of music therapy, MPs’ expenses, and the impact of piracy on the music industry.
- A creative piece, usually a short story. Boys write a number of pieces over the two years, and are encouraged to experiment with form and voice as well as traditional narrative.
- A response to a piece of media chosen by the student. This usually takes the form of a letter to the editor, in which the student responds to the arguments presented in the original, exploring and testing them for validity, and presenting their own thoughts in reply.
IGCSE English Literature
In addition to First Language English, most boys will also take an IGCSE in English Literature. The decision as to which sets will take both is made year by year, according to the strengths and needs of the boys. The education which the CIE IGCSE course offers is far more valuable, interesting, and rigorous than the alternatives which are offered at GCSE. The IGCSE course keeps students stimulated, and prepares them much better for 6th Form study. It allows much more time for the exploration of other literature, and over the two years, boys will study a variety of novels, drama and poetry, from Shakespeare to the present day. They will also go on theatre trips, and attend poetry readings at the College. For the higher sets, the unseen element in the exam means that it is necessary for boys to experience as wide a range of literature as possible, and learn to respond to it individually and with confidence.
Students sit examinations at the end of the Fifth form year as follows:
One paper on prepared texts (80%), which currently are:
- Prose: Wuthering Heights (Charlotte Bronte), Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard (Kiran Desai), The Great Gatsby (F Scott Fitzgerald)
- Poetry: The CIE Anthology
- Drama: Death of a Salesman (Arthur Miller), The Importance of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde)
One paper on an unseen poem or prose extract (20% - higher sets)
Two coursework essays on studied literature