Continuity and progression
When you are planning pupils' progression at GCSE, these summaries can help you to tackle the change in emphasis, assess pupils' readiness and plan accordingly at Key Stages 3 and 4. They can also help you build the reading skills vocabulary, which helps pupils to understand their progression.
Change in emphasis
GCSE may place greater demands on pupils, in particular areas. For example, they may have to:
- read longer texts in greater depth
- write in an informed way about some media, digital and moving-image texts
- draw links and connections between texts and in some cases compare and contrast across types and genres
- engage and respond in more detail to poetry, in some cases ‘unseen’
- use a greater degree of inference
- distinguish between fact, opinion and bias
- use sophisticated and fluent ways of referring to evidence in responses (for example, through embedded quotations)
- interpret and respond in a targeted way to questions and tasks on a range of texts
- read and write under tightly controlled or timed conditions
- be assessed through their speaking and listening responses to texts.
Assessing pupils' readiness
Any analysis of pupils’ performance at the end of Key Stage 3 or the start of Key Stage 4 might consider their abilities in new areas at GCSE and whether they have had sufficient opportunity to build and develop the required skills. You might ask students key questions to find out about their progress and knowledge, such as the following.
- What are the key skills and processes you need for success in reading (at GCSE and/or in Functional Skills)?
- How does what you have said compare to examination board specifications, the Framework objectives or Functional Skills standards?
- What do you understand these terms, phrases, skills and processes to mean?
- Can you give me concrete examples?
- To what extent do you feel you have already secured these skills?
- What would help you to understand and develop these skills?
Narrowing the gap between Key Stages
There are two linked changes which need to take place if student 'readiness' is still in question:
- At Key Stage 3, plan for future pupils to build and develop skills in the new areas at GCSE. You can do this by adapting and adjusting current schemes of work to provide these opportunities. For example, you might introduce a pre-GCSE course in earlier years in which some texts from specifications (whether finally studied or not) are approached in the ways indicated above.
- At Key Stage 4, pay attention to these aspects, as you will be beginning from a standing start if they have not been addressed earlier. For example, you might decide to spend less time on finding and selecting information from a text and more on inferring or interpreting.
Building the reading skills vocabulary
Pupils reading during Key Stage 4 should build on and extend the skills developed during Key Stage 3. Whether it is reading and responding to extended texts, shorter extracts, verses, or unseen texts, pupils will internalise the range of skills and strategies they need to succeed, both in formal attainment and wider development for life beyond school.
Talking through the objectives
Make sure pupils engage directly with the vocabulary of reading assessment and objectives. Take the core vocabulary from the GCSE Assessment Objectives (AOs) and ask the pupil what it means. For example:
- explain skills such as ‘collating from different sources’ and ‘appropriate to purpose’ by providing concrete examples
- provide definitions and examples of ‘linguistic, grammatical, structural and presentational’ features
- unpick the meaning of key processes mentioned in the AOs such as how writers ‘achieve effects’ and ‘engage and influence the reader’.
Framework for secondary English objectives
Take the core vocabulary from the Framework related to reading and ask your pupils what it means by doing the following.
- Explain skills such as making ‘independent judgements’ about texts. This is a key objective for progression, but explore how this is done with your pupils. ('Independent’ does not mean guesswork, but an informed response.)
- Provide definitions and examples of terms such as ‘complex ideas’. Are these ideas that are not immediately obvious – which you have to infer? Are they ideas which depend on the readers’ knowledge of other texts or information? Are they ideas which are essentially abstract and thus more difficult to quantify or exemplify?
- Unpick the meaning of key processes mentioned in the Framework such as: ‘select effectively and flexibly from a range of reading strategies’, which might mean knowing when it is necessary to read in depth and detail, when to skim and scan, when to make notes, linked to the purpose of the task.
The same can be done for the assessment focuses (AFs) for reading and the Functional Skills standards. The key idea is that pupils have a chance to unpick the language.