The English Curriculum
Our aim is develop an appreciation of and a love for language and literature amongst students. Students will be able to use both the spoken and written word accurately and influentially. In reading, they will be fluent and expressive; they will be able to appreciate the nuances and subtleties in language which influence us all. As well as reading for pleasure, their development of a critical approach to texts will be the foundation for forming their opinion of issues within the wider world. They will be able to engage with others empathetically and also use their skills for self-expression. Ultimately, their knowledge will empower them to shape their experience of the world, enabling you to articulate your views with accuracy, precision and conviction.
Details about the curriculum structure
Across all Key stages, development of the fundamental skills of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, is integral to our teaching. The curriculum in Key Stage 3 is designed to prepare the students fully for the Language and Literature courses they will undertake in Key Stage 4 and 5. All lessons commence with 10 minutes of reading. Our weekly ‘Writing Challenge’ runs from Year 7 to Year 10, alternating between fiction and non-fiction challenges, allowing students to experiment with different forms and genres.
Key Stage 3
Students will develop coherence, fluency and accuracy through a range of writing tasks. They will read fiction and non-fiction texts and are encouraged to explore the craft of the writer. Our topics provide regular opportunities for spoken language activities and students are given the opportunity to communicate in a variety of styles, developing their literacy skills whilst being creative and imaginative. Key Stage 3 English is taught in Years 7-9, with students receiving 6 hours per fortnight in Year 7 and 8, and 7 hours per fortnight in Year 9.
Key Stage 4
Throughout Key Stage 4, students are taught GCSE Language and GCSE Literature as discrete courses. Each subject is taught over 5 hours per fortnight. Students continue to develop coherence, fluency and accuracy through a range of writing tasks. Students focus on producing writing for impact, and hone skills of drafting and editing. Both creative and non-fiction writing are equally valued and students practice writing in a range of forms, for different audiences and purposes. Students read a variety of texts and excerpts. Additionally, students study, in depth, the set texts for their Literature GCSE. Our units of work continue to provide regular opportunities for spoken language and communication in a variety of styles.
Key Stage 5
Students can opt to study A-levels in English Language and English Literature over 8 hours per fortnight. In English Language, students work to become independent analysts who are confident in both exploring the meaning created by others’ language choices and in manipulating language for their own purposes. Students engage with global language discourses and the emphasis is on critically exploring texts, learning about and challenging theorists’ viewpoints and reaching independent conclusions. In English Literature, students work to become independent and critical scholars. We believe that English Literature has been a powerful weapon for hundreds of years and throughout Years 12 and 13, students explore some of the voices it has created. This enables them to gain a different and deeper perspective of the world, write in an academic register and examine the debates surrounding texts and critical approaches.
What will students study?
Key Stage 3
Students begin with a time travel unit and by reading ‘The Dark is Rising’, both are designed to develop their understanding of legend, archetypes and English at different times. They will then explore Victorian fiction and non-fiction, including the work Charles Dickens. The study of Oliver Twist acts a stimulus for creative and descriptive writing and the study of non-fiction texts enables students to develop their ability to write from different perspectives. Year 7 concludes with Shakespeare and students have the opportunity to take part in a production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. Students will have regular class readers such as ‘The Graveyard Book’ by Neil Gaiman and ‘I have no secrets’ by Penny Joelson.
Students begin with an exploration of protest poetry from a diverse range of poets. All students have the opportunity to craft and perform their poetry. Students build on the concepts of diversity and protest through their study of protest prose. The study of legend and writing from different times allows students to deepen their understanding of language and ‘stories’ as a craft before they produce their own descriptive pieces and monologues. Students study ‘Blood Brothers’ and have the opportunity to think like a director before concluding the year with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Students will have regular class readers such as ‘Divergent’ by Veronica Roth and ‘Stone Cold’ by Robert Swindells.
Students begin by following a gothic reading scheme, designed to develop their analytical skills in exploring writers’ use of language and structure. The extracts are also used as stimulus for writing tasks. Students will also be introduced to the texts which will underpin their Literature GCSE: ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens, ‘DNA’ by Dennis Kelly, ‘Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare and ‘Power and Conflict’ poetry which includes work by both pre and post 1914 poets. In Year 9 the emphasis is on plot, character and context, key knowledge which underpins the learning in subsequent years. Students will have regular class readers such as ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck, ‘Noughts and Crosses’ by Malorie Blackman and also increasingly read excerpts of thought provoking non-fiction texts.
Key Stage 4
English Language: Across Year 10 and Year 11, students engage with ideas which allow them access to historical, social and cultural discourses. In Year 10 we examine the craft of the writer by exploration of texts linked to mental health, natural disaster and science fiction. We use texts from different times including excerpts of novels, articles and tweets to examine and compare attitudes in these fields. Students create their own descriptive writing, including speeches, articles and essays.
English Literature: Throughout Years 10 and 11, the focus is on exploring, analysing and evaluating set texts. Language, form, structure, context and writer’s choices are integral to our approach. Each text is explored in context and students consider different audiences’ responses. Students begin Year 10 with a focus on poetry, we explore the ‘Power and Conflict’ cluster before moving on to unseen poetry and comparison skills. We then study ‘DNA’ by Dennis Kelly and ‘Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare.
English Language: In Year 11 we continue to practice, refine and rehearse the structures the skills necessary to become an excellent reader and writer. We examine texts of different types, linked by the themes of travel, heroes & villains and social justice. Students continue to develop as writers of creative pieces using these texts as inspiration.
English Literature: Year 11 commences with ‘A Christmas Carol’ before returning to poetry and DNA.
Key Stage 5
English Language: Students focus on Child Language Acquisition and Language Change- both in the UK and globally. Throughout the course, students engage with wider discourses and deepen their appreciation of the power of language in society. The Non-examined assessment offers an opportunity for students to conduct their own language investigations and produce creative texts.
English Literature: The texts are examined as expressions of social and political protest. The Non-examined assessment essays provide students with the opportunity to examine a novel and a collection of poetry of their choosing from a number of critical perspectives, including from a feminist, Marxist, and eco-critical perspective.
Qualifications which we offer at KS4 and KS5 (including links)
Key Stage 4
- GCSE English Language (AQA): All students
- GCSE English Literature (AQA): All students
Key Stage 5
- A level English Language (AQA): A Key Stage 5 Option
- A Level English Literature (AQA B): A Key Stage 5 Option
Enrichment and extra-curricular opportunities in the subject
The English faculty provide a diverse range of enrichment opportunities for students to help contextualise and bring the curriculum to life. Periodically, students undertake Bronte lectures at KS4, which enables literature texts to be presented, discussed and collectively analysed. Opportunities for writing are fostered through a writing club and creative writing trips e.g. to York Dungeon. The faculty also undertake theatre trips, and invite guest speakers in e.g. Huddersfield University.
Where could English ultimately take you?
The study of English is excellent preparation for the workplace and Higher Education. It provides a skills base which will support you in a wide field of career options. In a fast paced society, the skills developed through the study of English are widely appreciated. A high proportion of students who choose English at a Higher level, will follow careers in law, marketing and public relations, education, event management, leisure, hospitality, tourism and administration.