Mr A Crosbie – Curriculum Leader

Mr C Watt

Ms E Connell

Mrs S Sawers

Mrs F Kirkwood

Mrs L Wood

Mr M Roskilly

Ms S Bainbridge

Mrs J Bartlett


National 3, National 4 and National 5 English | Higher, Intermediate 2 and Intermediate 1 English | Advanced Higher




National 4 and 5 Explained – click to view

These courses are intended to help pupils develop the skills of reading, writing, talking and listening and to enable them to work with others, to be self-reliant, confident, thoughtful and creative. The courses take into account the curricular needs of all pupils in S3 and S4. All pupils will have the opportunity to attain at National 5 level, but the course they ultimately sit will depend on their performance in assessments throughout the two years. Pupils will be placed in sets at the start of S3 depending on how securely they have completed the Level 3 outcomes and experiences in S1 and S2.

Self, peer and teacher assessment are used formatively throughout the two years to enable pupils and class teachers to evaluate progress. All summative assessments for the National 3 and National 4 Qualifications are internal – there is no SQA exam.

For all three courses, pupils will be expected to complete a writing folio of two pieces, one creative or personal, the other broadly discursive. Pupils will be permitted to complete no more than TWO drafts of these pieces, and one of them may have to be produced as part of an ‘added value project’, which in Gillespie’s takes the form of a Persuasive Citizenship Project.

In addition, pupils will have to pass internal assessments in reading, talking and listening. If pupils fail any assessment twice at a particular level, they will have to move to the course at the level below. This will not necessarily mean that they have to change class and teacher, but it may do depending on circumstances.

In addition to the above assessments, pupils on the National 5 course will send in their writing folio to the SQA to be marked; they will also sit an examination set and assessed by the SQA in May of S4 – more details are given in the final section below.



Reading: All students of English have personal reading homestudy: a minimum of 15 minutes per evening or about one hour per week. Reading and re-reading of texts, and revision of notes taken during the study of this literature, will also be required to prepare for critical essays. Practice close reading tests will be completed regularly at home and self or peer assessed in class.

Writing: Planning, researching and writing notes for creative, factual or discursive essays. Redrafting of all types of essay for Folio. Redrafts should always be handed in with the original marked first drafts.

Talk: Interviewing and/or locating information, note-taking, preparation and practice for Individual Talk assessments.

Listening: Watching and/or listening to, and taking notes from, TV and radio news, current affairs, discussion and analysis programmes to prepare and practice for listening assessments. Similar activities for speeches and other spoken communication on websites, youtube etc.

SQA Assessment:

The following is subject to change, depending on SQA decisions.

For National 5, the two writing pieces in the folio are worth 15 marks each, making a total of 30. The Reading Exam is as follows:

Section 1 – reading for analysis and evaluation. 30 marks.

Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation questions on one unseen text.
Completing tasks that involve inference-making and summarising.

Section 2 – critical reading. 40 marks.

Applying critical reading, knowledge and understanding in addressing two tasks which are based on literary texts. 20 marks each.
One task will involve a series of Textual Analysis questions on a set Scottish text.
The other task will be a critical essay on any text in a genre different to that of the Scottish text.

A grade of A, B, C, D or No Award will be given based on the total out of 100 attained by the pupil.

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Entry Level:

Students who achieve Standard Grade award at Credit 1 or 2 are expected to complete and achieve the necessary components for a Higher or Intermediate 2 grade award within one year.

Those who have been awarded a Standard Grade 3 or 4 are expected to gain Intermediate 2 or Intermediate 1 at the end of one year. Students awarded Foundation Level in Standard Grade may complete Intermediate 1 or Access 3 in S5.

Course Description:

The study of literature pervades the course as follows:

The SQA requires teaching of Scottish texts of any genre for study and appreciation, and responses in writing will be made to these;
The class teacher has the choice of teaching other poetry, prose and drama for further critical response.
Language Study and appreciation is taught through analysis of non-fiction, such as feature and opinion articles.

As well as the above, students practise Close Reading Skills and Creative Writing and continue to use Group discussion to explore various aspects of literature.


2 hours minimum per week.

Personal reading should be at the heart of pupils’ English homework.
Other work to be completed at home will be given by the class teacher and may include Close Reading, Writing, and reading and note making for Critical Essays.
Students should read opinion and features articles in quality newspapers every week.

Internal and External Requirements for Higher / Intermediate 2 / Intermediate 1 English Course:

To receive an award at any level, students must pass all elements of all internal units within that level. All internal assessment is Pass/Fail only.

3 internal assessments (NABs) – Close Reading; Textual Analysis; Writing in any genre.

The S4 course requirements are currently being adapted so that one or more of these NABs will be sat before entry into S5. This will serve two purposes: to improve preparation for the Standard Grade exam and to ‘de-clutter’ the S5 experience in order to devote more time to the S5 exam requirements.

External Requirements

SQA Assessment:

Higher Paper 1: Close Reading, 2 passages, 1.75 hours. 50 Marks
Paper 2: 2 critical essays, different genres, 1.5 hours 50 Marks
Intermediate 2 Paper 1: Close Reading, 1 passage, I hour 30 Marks
Paper 2: Same as Higher 50 Marks
Intermediate 1 Paper 1: Close Reading, 1 passage, 1 hour, and 30 Marks
Critical essay, 45 minutes. 25 Marks

All courses require also a writing folio with a total of 25 marks (20% of total). Full details of this folio are given to pupils early in S5 and should be shown to, and discussed with, parents.

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Entry Level: Pass at Higher English at A or B

Course Description:

The course consists of 3 units, with the emphasis on detailed study of literature and creative writing. Only one of these units will have an external examination.

Unit 1: Specialist Study. Candidates will make an independent study of, and produce a dissertation on, an approved aspect or aspects of literature. Length – 3500-4500 words, including quotations but excluding footnotes and bibliography. (Comprises 40% of total).
Unit 2: Literature. A range of set texts will be studied and all candidates will sit two internally assessed critical essays. In the external exam candidates will answer one question in a critical essay. (Comprises 30%).
Unit 3: Creative Writing. Candidates will produce three pieces of creative writing in at least two genres to be internally assessed. Two pieces in 2 genres will be sent to the SQA in a folio to be assessed externally. (Comprises 30%).


A lot of homework will be expected including the following: work on Specialist Study; reading set texts; practice critical essays; redrafting of creative writing – minimum of four hours per week.

SQA Assessment:

External Literature Paper: 1 hour 30 minutes – one question.

Specialist Study
Creative Writing Folio


2 Critical essays.
2 Pieces of Creative Writing

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