The AQA GCSE in English Language requires a substantial coverage of a range of skills to ensure Grades 8-9 are achieved. This course is designed for all experienced teachers of AQA English Language teachers who are looking to ensure their high ability students achieve their Grades 8-9. Using feedback from the 2019 examination sessions, the course will explore what is expected of high ability students and explore ways to build your teaching practice around this.

Not all students who should achieve the top grades. This course will offer a range of strategies and methods to ensure they do. Key strategies will be explored to ensure students are extended in terms of their written responses and their creative and persuasive writing.


  • Examine approaches to the strategic planning and delivery of the AQA GCSE English Language specification
  • Review feedback on the 2019 AQA examinations and how to use this to boost the skills of students aiming at Grades 8 to 9
  • Explore relevant English Language higher order skills which students need in order to access the top grades
  • Consider exemplar answers in relation to the Level 4 assessment criteria
  • Take away ideas and suggestions for teaching effectively a range of challenging non-fiction texts and literary texts from across the centuries.
  • Experienced teachers of AQA GCSE English Language
  • Heads of Department
IN-SCHOOL You can also book this as an In-School Course
  • A specially prepared folder of 50+ pages full of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance
  • Two course restaurant lunch
  • Refreshments throughout the day
  • Guaranteed high quality venues

10.00 – 10.45am
Feedback on AQA GCSE English Language specification

  • Feedback from 2019 AQA GCSE English Language: key areas where high level students did well and missed out on marks.
  • What this feedback tells us about the standard required to achieve an 8 or 9.
  • What examiners are looking for to achieve an 8 or 9
  • Example answers: what differentiates a 7, 8 and 9

10.45 –11.15 am
Teaching the unseen texts in GCSE AQA English Language to high level

  • Teaching techniques on non-fiction and fiction texts for the high ability student
  • The short answer questions: approaches for challenging and preparing high ability students

11.15 – 11.30am

Discussion & coffee break

Writer’s Technique, Comparison and Personal Interpretation for 7-9 students

  • Teaching writer’s technique – language and structure
  • Comparison of non- fiction texts and the secrets of success
  • How to get your students to evaluate and interpret texts effectively
  • Examination of the key skills required for students to achieve Grades 7 to 9
  • Develop teaching methods for extending the higher order English Language skills including analysis, evaluation and synthesis
  • Exploring exemplar materials of high level answers

12.45pm –1.45pm
Lunch and informal discussion

1.45 pm – 3.00pm
Teaching the writing skills to stretch and challenge high ability students  

  • Teaching Creative and Descriptive writing with impact to achieve the top grades
  • Approaching persuasive and transactional writing in the classroom with impact and effect
  • The importance of ‘virtually error free’ SPaG and how to bring this into your teaching
  • What examiners are looking for in the writing tasks at the top level, with exemplars

3.00pm –3.05pm
Afternoon tea and discussion

Teaching techniques for ensuring high performance

  • Why top students should understand the Assessment Objectives
  • Applying the Assessment Objectives and specification content to a range of answers marked within the ‘Level 4’ assessment criteria
  • Examining the differentiating factors at work between these Grades
  • Dealing with different question types, including the 40 mark questions – what stops students hitting the highest grades
  • How to engage students of the highest ability levels whilst also ensuring that they are ‘exam ready’

4.00 pm

Paul Dodd

Paul is an experienced English expert who has worked as a teacher for over 20 years and within a major exam board before becoming an independent educational consultant. He was a teacher of English, a Head of Department and a Director of Studies for over twenty years, teaching at schools in the United Kingdom and abroad. He then became Head of English at one of the leading exam boards and was involved in the development of the last two sets of English GCSEs and A Levels with Ofqual and the Department of Education.

As a consultant, he is widely involved in a range of activities, including the training of teachers and students in English specifications both in training courses and within individual schools. He has authored a whole series of teacher resources such as lesson plans and trial assessments at both GCSE and A Level.

He has authored several works on A Level English literary texts ranging from Romantic Poetry to Modern Drama and he examines for two UK exam boards and one international board in A Level English Literature. He is also a Principal Examiner for GCSE English Literature and the Chief Examiner for IB English Literature.

English subject library