‘’I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.” – Socrates

Click here for English curriculum outline

Why do we study English?

The English curriculum is intended to teach students about the value of reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. Not only does proficiency in these areas enhance their understanding of the texts explored in lessons, but these key skills are of vital importance in other curriculum areas and they underpin successful study at all levels. The Key Stage 3 Programme of Study is designed to aid and assess such development. It encourages learners to be inspired, moved and challenged by following a broad and balanced course of study. The heart of teaching at Key Stage 3 is to allow our students to learn through creativity and critical thinking. We believe that success at Key Stage 4 begins with effective preparation at Key Stage 3, and therefore all of our Key Stage 3 units have been written to address and develop the skills needed for GCSE. At Key Stage 4, pupils build upon these skills and a greater emphasis is placed on Assessment Objectives and examination technique.

English programme of study at Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9)

Our Key Stage 3 programme of study is designed to encourage learners to be inspired, moved and changed by following a broad, coherent and worthwhile course of study. It will prepare learners to make informed decisions about further learning opportunities and career choices and to use language to participate effectively in society and employment.  Our Key Stage 3 English curriculum covers Years 7, 8 and 9 with students studying both English Language and English Literature alongside each other.

Our Key Stage 3 units of study are grouped together under a key heading for each term in order to encourage deeper thinking and an understanding of how English lessons fit in with a broader educational framework. This also allows our students to make connections between their different units.

In Year 7, the order of study is as follows:
Autumn Term – ‘Origins of English’
Spring Term – ‘Our British Heritage’
Summer Term – ‘My Voice’

In Year 8, the order of study is as follows:
Autumn Term – ‘Voices of the Past and Present’
Spring Term – ‘Mistaken Identity’
Summer Term – ‘Representation Matters’

In Year 9, the order of study is as follows:
Autumn Term – ‘Altered Perspectives’
Spring Term – ‘Great Lives’
Summer Term – ‘Literature Greats’

During Year 9, the structure of the units is slightly different to that which is followed in Years 7 and 8.  Alongside their curriculum based lessons, students have the opportunity to study a ‘Broader Text’ and take part in a co-curricular lesson (with at least one of these lessons each week).  Students continue to study a range of texts in Year 9, as well as enhancing their creative and transactional skills.

Reading is actively encouraged to promote and accelerate learning in all areas.  In Key Stage 3, students have a designated reading lesson every week.  Through their studies, students have opportunities to reflect on a range of spiritual, moral, ethical, social and cultural issues as well as the opportunity to develop individual citizenship.

English programme of study at Key Stage 4 (Years 10-11)

Students begin more in-depth studying for their GCSE in English Language and English Literature in Year 10. This enables learners to revisit topics over the 2 years and to secure their understanding and use of key skills. For both English Language and English Literature, assessment is 100% exam. For Literature the set texts are:

‘A Christmas Carol’ – Charles Dickens

‘Blood Brothers’ – Willy Russell Or An Inspector Calls – J. B. Priestley

‘Romeo and Juliet’ – William Shakespeare

AQA Conflict Poetry Anthology (15 poems from a variety of poets)

In Paper 1 of the English Language exam, students will be required to write an engaging story which tests their ability to write creatively and imaginatively, as well as their technical accuracy. This paper also has a reading element which tests students’ skills of inference, deduction, analysis, synthesis and evaluation based upon a piece of 20th Century fiction.

In Paper 2 of the English Language exam, students will be required to write a piece non-fiction piece of writing, for example: a letter, a review, a report, a speech or an article. As with Paper 1, this tests their ability to write skilfully, adapting their writing to the purpose, format and audience. This paper also has a reading element, requiring students to examine two non-fiction texts (one modern and one pre-20th century) and to respond to them using skills of inference, deduction, analysis, synthesis, comparison and evaluation.

Homework expectations

In English, we are using an online homework platform, Sparx Reader for our home learning. This programme offers personalised reading provision pitched at an appropriate level and designed to help students improve their reading skills. Our students are familiar with this programme from their maths home learning. Students are expected to read for 30 minutes per week at home on Sparx Reader to earn 300 SRP. Students who wish to read for longer may do so and earn extra points in the process!

In addition, our KS4 students are expected to complete one essay-based piece of homework per fortnight. This is to help students build their writing stamina ahead of their GCSE exams and to inspire those thinking about A Level English to write more freely and extensively.

How can parents and guardians support at home?

As well as monitoring homework and supporting with independent reading, there are a range of ways in which parents and guardians can help to support their child with developing their English skills.  Students cannot take the texts into the Literature exam at GCSE, so unless they know a range of relevant quotations from their two set texts, they are not going to succeed.  Teachers will incorporate effective revision strategies into their teaching, but we are always grateful for the support offered at home to reinforce these techniques.  Look out for A3 pieces of paper dotted around their bedrooms with ‘Mind-maps’ of their texts! If they’re not there – quiz them and ask why not?

Some other techniques that might help students when preparing revision materials are:

  • Using images (not works of art, just simple sketches) to connect key quotations together.  Such images can really help some students to remember content;
  • Using colour – this will often help students to remember different concepts as well as the different sections in the exam;
  • A different mind map for themes and characters;
  • Identifying and recording a wide range of short quotations from the text – they are easier to remember and help to offer a better coverage of the text than longer quotations;
  • Making sure that your child has read the novel, poems and the plays (multiple times if possible) to help develop their familiarity with the texts;
  • Buying a study guide and asking your child the questions for each section to check their understanding of the main plot and characters.  Study guides can be purchased via our English department for a reduced price;
  • Reading the set texts yourself to help show empathy and an understanding of the learning processes involved!

How can I help with English Language?

  • Ensure your son/daughter has prepared revision cards;
  • Time your son/daughter with practice questions (often made available via the online ‘blue tab’ or through their class teachers) and encourage them to be handed in to be marked by their teacher;
  • Help with short spelling tests of key words highlighted in timed writing;
  • Encourage your child to read a wide selection of fiction, non-fiction and media texts in the run up to the exam – encourage timed reading.

Useful websites for revision:





Extra-curricular opportunities

We pride ourselves on providing a range of excellent opportunities outside of the classroom.  As well as helping to consolidate students’ understanding of the set texts (often through watching local live performances, where available), these experiences help to foster a love of English and interest in what our subject has to offer.  Across the academic year, such opportunities include:

  • The National Poetry Competition
  • Theatre trips (including to the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon, The Birmingham REP theatre, Alexandra Birmingham and the Birmingham Hippodrome)
  • The Harry Potter Studios Tour
  • Shakespeare workshops with ‘Aunty Jen’ theatre
  • Visits from Quantum Theatre with ‘A Christmas Carol’
  • Poetry Live!
  • Author visits