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New 13+ CE Publishing: What's new for English for Common Entrance?
By Elly Lacey
18 Feb

Our new English for Common Entrance textbook covers not only the new specification for the ISEB Common Entrance exams (to be taught from September 2021 and examined from November 2022), but it is also aligned with the Key Stage 3 National Curriculum. For all pupils in Years 7 and 8, the new textbook develops and builds on the work done in Key Stage 2 and opens the door to a wider range of reading, writing and rich discussion in Key Stage 3. Making explicit cross-curricular links, capitalises on the breadth of curriculum at Key Stage 3 and emphasises the interconnectivity of English as a subject.

To cater for the new specification’s range as well as a varied and exciting curriculum to engage any child in Years 7 and 8, the new book includes:

  • 10 chapters, including fiction and non-fiction texts, poetry or drama scripts.
  • A range of questions for each text, mimicking the different sections of the Common Entrance exam.
  • A section dedicated to writing skills, tasks, and a frame for specific writing types.
  • An extra chapter focused solely on exam skills.
  • An extensive glossary with words highlighted in bold throughout the book.

Each text in every chapter has been included to encourage thoughtful and lively responses from pupils. Texts from a variety of contexts and a diverse range of authors, draw on pupils’ own life experiences as well as challenging them and broadening their understanding of the world around them. Research, discussion and critical thinking are a recurring feature, whilst maintaining and developing the key skills of reading and writing.

Pupils will be asked to use a range of reading skills in Common Entrance English, whether they are taking the Foundation Paper or Reading Paper. Questions which are specifically designed to cater for the former are denoted but all the other questions reflect the type of questions which could be asked in any exam, whether they are literal, inferential or language-based. Intervening activities and sections encourage a deeper level of thought to help with the extended analysis needed for CASE papers too. The writing tasks also mirror the broad range of tasks, forms and purposes that may be asked for in the writing paper. Writing advice and a frame offer some scaffold for pupils but also enough freedom to show off their creativity.

Other key features throughout the book include:

  • Context boxes exploring an author’s life, influences and time they were writing in.
  • Text and Language Focus dig deeper into language and organisational features of different text types.
  • Thematic Focus of two fiction texts develops the skill of comparison, which is so important for GCSE level study.
  • Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar Focus and Tips emphasises the importance of the mechanics of clear and accurate writing.
  • Research activities encourage resilience, critical thinking and individual discovery, whilst promoting cross-curricular links.
  • Speaking and Listening Focus help develop discussion in order to learn.
  • Drama Focus brings various texts to life and gets pupils learning in a different way.

At this time, it would be tempting to stick to what we know but there are a wealth of opportunities blooming in this changing world that the generation we are teaching are shaping and will eventually lead. But, of course, it would be reductive not to look back and learn from the past as we move forward in the ‘new normal’. That is the crossroads where the study of English stands. We have tried to reflect that in this new edition but there is always room for more creativity, more open-mindedness and more questions than answers. English is ever-evolving!

Elly Lacey is Head of English at Newton Prep School in London. She has taught English to children from age 8 to 18 but her particular passion is teaching at Key Stage 3. In the classroom, she endeavours to build children’s confidence and love of English through creative activities and cross-curricular links all inspired by the texts on the curriculum. Learn more about Elly here.

The new Common Entrance 13+ English for ISEB CE and KS3 Textbook and Textbook Answers will be publishing in Summer 2021. The new English resources are for first teaching from September 2021 with first examinations in November 2022. Find out more about our new English for Common Entrance series, view a sample and pre-order the new resources here.

The new English for Common Entrance resources map to the new ISEB English specification. Read more about the new specification and its aims here.

Tags: 13+, 13+ Common Entrance, 13 plus, Common Entrance, Elly Lacey, English, Entrance exams, Independent School Examination Board, independent schools, ISEB, Key Stage 3

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