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Key information about English

It’s important we feel confident with our English skills.  Whether speaking in public or being able to write a letter of application for a job, having a good understanding of the workings of the English language has a huge impact on our social and professional lives.

In our English lessons, students will be challenged to improve and refine their English skills as they study a range novels, poems, plays and non-fiction texts.  They will write a range of poetry, short stories and essays.  They will also perform in short plays within the lesson, record podcasts, and participate when a travelling theatre company visits the school.  Whatever the task, the outcome remains the same: students will improve their confidence and dexterity in English.

English in Years 7 & 8 is taught via 4 lessons a week.  Year 9 pupils have five lessons a week and the majority of Years 10 and 11 also have five lessons a week.  Parents and students should ensure that a minimum of two hours a week is committed to reading, writing and preparation at home. Students who would like to achieve a good grade should also read a range of literature on a regular basis. 

Key Stage 5 English lessons are taught over 6 lessons a week and the attributes of a successful student is one that reads high quality literature from different periods in history.

Key stage 3


Year 7 topics covered

Autumn 1

First impressions of secondary school. 

Study of short story collection (Roald Dahl ‘Tales of the Unexpected’)

Finish introductory module.  Students will now be set according to data.

In new teaching groups, start teaching autobiography writing genre through the use of ‘Boy’ by Roald Dahl.

Autumn Half Term

 Autumn 2

Continue with studying the writing genre of autobiography and prepare students to write an autobiography for themselves.

*writing assessment* students write their own autobiographies

Preparation for reading assessments (e.g. Bird Table, Gorgon’s Head, Harry Potter).

*reading assessments* from a variety of extracts and short stories.

Christmas Holiday

 Spring 1

Students start to learn different styles and forms of poems.

*writing assessment* students write their own poems which are collected into an anthology

Spring Half Term

 Spring 2

Drama study with students learning about play-scripts and performance from plays such as ‘Demon Headmaster’, ‘Two Weeks with the Queen’ or other appropriate plays available.

*speaking & listening assessment*students perform scenes inspired or taken from their studied play.

Easter Holiday

 Summer 1

Animals in fiction. Dip into ‘Animal Farm’ and introduce and start reading from a variety of possible texts, such as ‘Wind in the Willows,’ ‘the Jungle Book’ and ‘War Horse.’

*reading assessment* students evaluate how the writers have used animals in the text.

Half Term

 Summer 2

Cross curricular environmental study based around Minet Park visit, in connection with the Science department.

*speaking & listening assessment* based on environmental study visit.

Local author study, e.g. George Orwell, Tony Lee (graphic novel author) or Benjamin Zephaniah.

*reading assignment* based on local author study.

Set summer holiday reading assignment.

Year 8 topics covered

Autumn 1

English Literary Heritage Study, with focus on myths, fairy tales and other classic pieces of writing.

*reading assessment* based on a piece of reading.

*writing assessment* where students rewrite a classic piece into a modern telling or different genre.

Autumn Half Term

 Autumn 2

Study of Shakespeare, using a variety of plays such as A Midsummer Nights’ Dream, The Tempest, Othello and Twelfth Night.

*reading/writing assessment* based on character, theme or extract of studied Shakespeare play.

Genre study of either detective or gothic styles of writing.  Students will prepare the script for speaking assessment using the stylistic criteria for their genre of study.

*speaking &listening assessment* where students record their scripts for the genre or deliver them in class.

Christmas Holiday

 Spring 1

Study of the play ‘Our Day Out’ by Willy Russell.

*Speaking & listening assessment* inspired scenes and ideas from Our Day Out (in the MPR).

Preparation for writing assessment based on Our Day Out.

*writing assessments* based on students’ understanding of the play

Spring Half Term

 Spring 2

Unit of study focused on the study of ballads, a form of poetry.

*writing assessment* in which students show their understanding of a ballads components by creating their own.

*reading assessment* by comparing two ballads.

Easter Holiday

 Summer 1

20th century historical novel study ( ‘Boy in the Striped Pyjamas).

*reading and writing assessment* based on historical novel (using Pre Public Exam material).

Half Term

 Summer 2

Non-fiction study which will result in students creating their own magazine, home page, etc.

*writing assessment* of students creating a magazine for a non-fiction topic of their own choice.

Speaking & listening activities based on non-fiction related scenarios (the newsroom, etc.) and set summer holiday reading assignments.

Year 9 topics covered

Autumn 1

Non- fiction topic study with more in depth focus on persuasive language and preparation for two assessments – a persuasive leaflet and speech.

*writing assessment* in which students create a persuasive leaflet.

*speaking & listening assessment* for students to persuade other students on a topic of choice.

Begin study of a contemporary novel (from teachers’ choice of: ‘Pig Heart Boy,’ ‘Noughts and Crosses,’ ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ ‘Of Mice and Men’ or ‘Face.’

Autumn Half Term

 Autumn 2

*reading assessment* of contemporary novel with a focus on students’ understanding of characters, themes or extracts.

Begin a 19th Century novel study: A Christmas Carol.

Christmas Holiday

 Spring 1

*reading assessment* of students’ understanding of 19th century novel using Pre Public Exam material to introduce students to GCSE assessment requirements.

An introduction to sonnets (looking at Shakespearean and Petrarchan styles).

*writing assessment* for students to create their own sonnets and show their understanding of descriptive language features.

Shakespeare study: Romeo and Juliet.

*speaking and listening assessment* inspired by Romeo and Juliet.

Spring Half Term

 Spring 2

Further study of Shakespeare.

*reading assessment* a study of a character from Romeo and Juliet.

Pre-GCSE creative writing unit – writing to inform, describe, entertain, argue, advise, review.

Easter Holiday

 Summer 1

Year 9 exam preparation – exact date of exam tbc.

*examination* date to be announced for examination based in Pre Public Exam material from AQA or EdExcel exam boards.

Contemporary drama: teacher’s choice of appropriate and available scripts (e.g. Millions, Educating Rita, etc.).

Half Term

 Summer 2

*speaking &listening assessment * on scenes and ideas inspired from play script studied.

Local author study – a more in-depth look at the more advanced work of local authors, e.g. Animal Farm.

Set summer reading and research homework linked to Year 10 introductory topic.

Key stage 4


Year 10 and 11 topics covered

Students will follow a combined course which will give them two GCSEs; English Language and English Literature.  

There will be a study of texts and extracts that will be common to both English Language and English Literature.  These will involve the play ‘An Inspector Calls’ by J.B. Priestly; the play ‘Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare; and Robert L. Stevenson’s book ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.’  In addition to these students will study poetry from the AQA anthology with a focus on the theme of Power and Conflict.  There will be further studies in English Language to look at contemporary function, use of grammar, language devices and styles of writing.

Functional English Skills are incorporated into the syllabus and involve improving skills in reading and writing of non-fiction. This will include the study of persuasion, argument, advice, description and explanation amongst other styles.

Assessment / Exam info

Unlike previous years, there will be no controlled assessments or coursework.  Students will therefore sit a total of 4 eternally marked exams.  Two of the exams will be for GCSE English Language: Paper 1 Explorations in creative reading and writing; Paper 2 Writers’ viewpoints and perspectives.  Two of the exams will be for English Literature: Paper 1 Shakespeare and the 19th Century novel; Paper 2 Modern Texts and Poetry.

GCSE English Language

  • 50% of mark = Paper 1 Explorations in creative reading and writing (1 hr 45 mins)
  • 50% of mark = Paper 2 Writers’ viewpoints and perspectives (1 hr 45 mins)

GCSE English Literature

  • 50% of mark =  is Paper 1 Shakespeare and the 19th Century novel (1 hr 45 mins)
  • 50% of mark =  Paper 2 Modern Texts and Poetry (2 hrs 15    mins) 

NB: Speaking and Listening is now awarded separately.  Therefore, on results day students will receive a separate certificate for the speaking and listening assessment they have completed over the course of two years.

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Year 12

The title for the first component of the course is Love Through the Ages.  As the title suggests, students study a range of texts – plays, poetry and prose – from a wide time period.  They can either decide to finish the course at the end of Year 12 and sit two AS exams or, as most of our students do, continue with the course into Year 13.

Year 13

In Year 13, students complete a ‘World War I and its Aftermath’ component in which plays, poetry and prose relating to the First World War are studied. 

At the end of the course, two exams are sat (each worth 40% ) and a 2,500 word independent critical study is completed (20% of the final grade).