Our English Curriculum is designed with chronology in mind, as the sequential development enables students to build knowledge of significant historical eras and the big issues impacting society at the time. This gives students an ability and confidence to decode new and unfamiliar texts and when studying a text allows students an understanding of the literary tradition that went before, leading students to make thoughtful predictions about writers’ intentions and impacts on audiences.
After a short transitional autobiography unit, students begin right at the very beginning with the conception of stories in the ‘Myths and Legends’ topic. Here students are given the opportunity to explore how and why stories were first created, looking into oracy, origin stories and patterns of narrative that still exist today.
Following on from this we take a brief break from chronology, but use the principles learned regarding myths and legends and narrative to tackle a class reader ‘A Monster Calls’. Then the curriculum returns to chronology, with our first Shakespeare play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. Here students will again get to build on their previous knowledge of narrative and myths and legends, however learn about Shakespearean drama.
Finally, students will build on all of the inference and deduction skills honed so far with a unit of poetry. This will begin with the sonnet form, building on what students have previously learned in the Shakespeare unit and will teach students key poetry analysis skills that will be imperative for their time in English over the next four years.
Broadly students are taught in mixed ability groups, however those students who require additional support in reading are taught in a specialised group to fast-track their progress.
Students begin the year with an ‘Art of Rhetoric’ unit delving into the origins of persuasive oracy and writing. After this, student build on their knowledge of Shakespeare, poetry and rhetoric with their second Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet. Students will begin to explore different themes such as tragedy, violence and romance.
Continuing with chronology, the curriculum then moves to the second unit of poetry which builds on knowledge taught at the end of Y7. This poetry unit begins with the Enlightenment, looking into how this intellectual and philosophical movement changed ways of thinking and developed a new literary tradition. After this, we give students an insight into the Romantic movement again showing a change in ideas and preparing students with knowledge that creates a foundation for their understanding of GCSE poetry.
In the spring, students use this knowledge about changing ideas to learn about Dracula through the use of a play form. Here students use their knowledge of dramatic conventions to learn about the literary tradition of the Gothic and the anxieties prevalent in Victorian society.
We then move to our class novel of the year, The Jungle Book. As well as enjoying a novel together and developing critical analysis skills, this novel offers a springboard for the discussion of Empire, imperialism and conservation.
Armed with the knowledge of what has happened up to the late 19th Century, students now complete their third poetry unit, with a focus on using their skills to look at war poetry. This covers both WW1 and WW2.
In Year 8 students are set in ability groups.
A transition year to GCSE and deliberate choices are made to further introduce a range of challenging texts to support the transition to GCSE whilst building on the knowledge and skills from the previous years. Year 9 begins with the class reader Of Mice and Men. Here students use all their analytical skills so far to delve further into other cultures other than Britain. Among others, issues discussed include the Great Depression, racism and power.
A range of challenging texts from different cultures and different time periods are use to teach the next two units which focus on structure and then perspectives. Through the ‘structure’ unit, students build on what they have already learned about narrative in further detail, looking in detail in the structural choices made in the construction of texts. For the ‘perspectives’ unit, students have a chance to be thoughtful and delve into different worlds discussing how the elements that make up a person e.g. gender, race, where they’re from determine their ability to form and voice a perspective.
We then end Y9 with a transition into GCSE. After a short unit on social and political justice, students are now ready to interact with their first GCSE text: An Inspector Calls.
GCSE English Language (Exam Board: AQA)
Students will first delve into the world of creative reading and writing. With chronology still in mind our curriculum has now moved up to the modern day, as we begin the year discussing the power of language and the impact on society through a dystopian fiction unit, followed by an insight into post-war and postmodern prose.
After this the curriculum moves to non-fiction writing with a focus on viewpoints and perspectives. Students are encouraged to think critically and debate in our ‘big issues’ unit in which we discuss the biggest issues affecting people in the UK now and comparing this to what we have learned about the big issues in history so far. After students have honed their analysis skills and knowledge about non-fiction, the next unit invites students to share and recognise their own voice.
In GCSE English Language, students work towards 100% terminal examinations. This is comprised of two papers:
Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing (50%)
Paper 2: Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives (50%)
Students now use all of the knowledge and skills from their English Language course so far to start applying this to the exam papers.
Students work on the exam rubric of Paper 1 before their penultimate CAF, then on the exam rubric of Paper 2 before their final CAF in February.
After a diagnostic analysis of their mock results, teachers then focus the rest of the Paper 1 and 2 revision on weaknesses based on this.
GCSE English Literature (EDEXCEL)
Students begin to use their knowledge so far about historical contexts and literary tradition to analyse and evaluate their GCSE literature texts. Students are advised to be organised, to take care of their books/resources and keep these to revise from in Y11.
Students complete the Shakespeare play Macbeth, followed by either A Christmas Carol or Frankenstein, Time and Place Poetry from the Edexcel anthology and then Unseen Poetry.
In GCSE English Literature, students are also assessed with 100% terminal exams. The papers students sit are:
Paper 1: Shakespeare and Post-1914 Literature (50%)
Paper 2: 19th-century Novel and Poetry since 1789 (50%)
There are no longer tiers to the exams, and all students sit the same exam papers, which can be awarded a Grade 1-9.
In order to achieve highly on the course, Students should read widely outside of lessons and ask questions about texts.
In Year 11, students will begin by finishing the 15 Time and Place poems. Students will then revise all of the literature texts so far before their penultimate CAF.
There will then be a focus on teaching academic writing, including structuring your ideas to show a line of argument, followed by further revision before the final CAF.
English is an excellent source of transferable skills that can be applied to a vast range of different career paths. Click here for examples of some of the employability skills English can provide.
- Where can English take you?
- Careers using English
- How to become a features editor: Lisa's story
- How to become a journalist: Sirin's story
- What is it like to be... a poet, writer and spoken word artist?
- How to become a screenwriter: Roanne Bardsley's story
- How to become a radio presenter: Swarzy's story
- How to become a filmmaker and vlogger: Isaac's story