S5/S6 Higher English
The course involves developing skills in reading, writing, talk and listening. Pupils will build on the skills they have already and tackle many tasks which will be familiar to them from the National 5 course. Higher is a very challenging course and pupils will need to work hard to achieve their best. Pupils are often surprised by the increase in expectations from National 5 to Higher. Teachers are there to offer support and guidance but the motivation to achieve success must come from pupils. Higher requires an independent approach to studying and a willingness to work hard.
How is the course assessed?
There are two types of assessment:
- Internal assessment
- External assessment
In order to sit the final Higher exam, pupils must first pass internal assessments in reading, writing, talk and listening. Pupils will do these at an appropriate time during the year. There are departmental deadlines which indicate the period by which these assessments must be completed. The assessments can be done in a number of ways e.g. a talk could be a solo presentation on an issue pupils have also chosen to write about for their writing assessment, or part of a group presentation on an area of a literary text they have been studying. If pupils do not manage to reach the required standard first time, a reassessment opportunity will be made available.
External assessment. There are two elements of this.
- Writing Portfolio. (Worth 30%)
Pupils will write two pieces, one creative (imaginative or personal/reflective) and one discursive (argumentative or persuasive). Each is worth 15% of the final mark
Pupils will receive some support from their teacher but the essays must be their own work. Their teacher is not allowed to give a plan or correct specific errors eg punctuation errors. Folio pieces may be redrafted following guidance from teachers. There are departmental deadlines for the completion of first and final drafts.
The maximum number of words is 1300; suggested minimum is around 650.
The portfolio will be sent to the SQA for marking, around Easter.
Folio submissions for National 5 and Higher
At the beginning of November 2015 the SQA informed schools that the English folio for National 5 and Higher would be marked via e-marking. Paper copies of candidates’ work will still be sent to the SQA but candidates’ scripts will be scanned by the SQA and passed to markers electronically. This, however, does mean that the SQA wish pupils to hand in their work on a template which they have provided. The use of a template means that the work of a pupil will not be missed in the scanning process. The folio is comprised of two essays, which are worth 15 marks each, and accounts for 30% of the final grade. Both essays have to be included on one template.
Below is a link to the template on the SQA website.
This will take you to the Higher English homepage (the template is the same for both National 5 and Higher) and you should then find the template in the section “Submitting Coursework.”
In order to avoid teaching and learning time being taken up in printing off essays, all drafts of folio work should be handed in using the template in a hard copy format.
Exam ( worth 70% of the final grade)
Paper 1 (worth 30%) is Reading for Understanding, Analysis, Evaluation (U,A,E). This used to be called Close Reading.
In Paper 1, pupils will read two non-fiction passages on a related topic. They will be asked questions on the first passage for 25 marks. There will be a final 5 mark question which asks pupils to compare the ideas between both passages. Pupils will develop their skills in summarising, comparing, contrasting, analysing and understanding to build their confidence in tackling this paper.
Paper 2 (worth 40%) is Critical Reading. This is the study of literature.
Paper 2 has 2 parts, each worth 20 marks and each worth 20%
- One part of Paper 2 is the Scottish Text Question (STQ). For this pupil will study one writer/text from the SQA list of Scottish texts.
In the STQ exam, they will answer questions on a text or extract from a text. 10 marks will be on the text printed in the exam. The other 10 marks will test their knowledge of the wider text or other works by the same writer.
- One part of Paper 2 is the Critical Essay. Pupils will write one essay on a literary text they have studied. This will not be the same text as their STQ text. Pupils cannot write on the same genre for their essay and their STQ.
Some teachers may choose to study two texts from the SQA STQ list. If so, he/she will explain.
Recording & Reporting
Specific Home Study tasks will be distributed on a regular basis by individual class teachers, but pupils are also advised to revise English skills independently. It is expected that pupils devote at least 2 hours per week completing independent study and/or English Home Study tasks.
Self revision/Home Study exercises that pupils are recommended to undertake should include:
- Consolidation of knowledge of class texts and close reading skills
- Close Reading practice assessments
- Reading quality newspapers using close reading skills
- Preparation for presentations
- Writing essays for folio