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Teacher Guide to GCSE English Language and Literature: How to Develop a Personal Response to Reading

Chris Barcock | Sunday June 08, 2014


Associated Resources

  • Glossary of Frequently Used English GCSE Terms
  • Teacher Guide to GCSE English Language and Literature: How to Compare and Contrast


‘Personal opinions that are unconsidered and unsupported are not judgements.’ (Ofqual)

‘Students can enjoy the creativity of bringing their own fresh, original ideas to the reading of a text/texts.’ (Examination Board)

How do we reconcile the two?

As always we start with the DFE curriculum orders.

In English Language the section dedicated to critical reading and comprehension states that students should ‘draw inferences and justify these with evidence; support a point of view by referring to evidence within the text…’.

In Assessment Objective AO2 there is the clear injunction: ‘use relevant subject terminology to support their views’. Assessment Objective AO4 asks them to ‘evaluate texts critically’: the questions for this will lead them towards such evaluation.

There is frequent mention of a range of commands: see our Glossary of Frequently Used English GCSE Terms in Associated Resources but ‘evaluate’ needs clear definition here. The OED gives us ‘appraise’ ‘assess’. In turn we get to ‘estimate the worth of’ and ‘estimate the quality of’. So as far as we are concerned it means to make qualitative judgements about what has been read: with the constant proviso that these are supported by evidence from and reference to the text.

What is blindingly clear in all this is that (as in the Ofqual statement above) there is absolutely no room for assertions or generalisations, unsupported opinions or prejudices (or worse); irrelevance, digression or loss of focus on the text and task. Across both specifications candidates must put, and clearly show that they are putting, knowledge and understanding of the text/s first and commenting/ analysing/ drawing conclusions second.

In particular for reading in English Language candidates are...

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