We offer students a three-year Key Stage 3 and a two-year Key Stage 4 to expose them to as greater range of texts as possible through these formative years.
Key Stage 3 overview
The Key Stage 3 English curriculum is designed to provide students with a strong foundation in the English language and literature. It covers a wide range of essential skills, including reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
Students explore a variety of literary genres, from classic literature to contemporary texts, developing their ability to analyse and interpret them. Grammar and vocabulary are also emphasised to enhance students' writing and communication skills. Alongside this, students engage in creative writing, poetry, and drama, fostering their creative expression and critical thinking.
Overall, the Key Stage 3 English curriculum aims to nurture well-rounded and confident communicators and readers, preparing them for the challenges of higher education and beyond.
Key Stage 4 overview
The Key Stage 4 English curriculum is strategically designed to build towards the AQA GCSE English Language and AQA GCSE English Literature exams. Here's how it accomplishes this:
1. Textual Analysis: The curriculum progressively introduces students to their examination texts, fostering their ability to analyse and interpret literature. This skill is crucial for the GCSE English Literature exam, which involves in-depth analysis of texts from different genres.
2. Critical Thinking: Students develop critical thinking and evaluation skills, which are essential for both English Language and Literature GCSEs. They learn to assess the effectiveness of language choices and writer’s methods in texts.
3. Writing Proficiency: As students progress, they engage in various forms of writing, including transactional, fictional, and analytical writing. These writing skills are directly transferable to the English Language GCSE, where students are assessed on their ability to communicate effectively through written expression.
4. Grammar and Vocabulary: The continued focus on grammar and vocabulary enrichment ensures that students can express themselves clearly and precisely in both written and spoken English, a key component of the English Language GCSE.
5. Literary Genres: The curriculum exposes students to a variety of literary genres, including poetry, drama (Shakespearean and Modern), and prose, aligning with the texts students are expected to study in the English Literature GCSE.
6. Exam Preparation: As students progress through KS4, they undertake practice exams and assessment tasks that mirror the format and expectations of the AQA GCSE English Language and English Literature exams. This helps familiarise them with the assessment criteria and exam conditions.
8. Literary Themes and Concepts: The curriculum ensures that students gain a strong understanding of key literary themes and concepts, which are relevant for the English Literature GCSE's thematic questions.
By gradually building these skills and knowledge areas, the KS4 English curriculum equips students with the necessary tools to excel in their AQA GCSE English Language and AQA GCSE English Literature examinations, providing a seamless transition from middle school to these crucial qualifications.
Key Stage 5 overview
The Key Stage 5 English Literature curriculum for Edexcel at A-level is a specialised and rigorous program tailored to the study of literature in-depth. It engages students with a wide array of literary texts, from canonical works to contemporary and global literature.
The curriculum emphasises advanced critical analysis and the development of a deep understanding of literary theory and interpretation. Students hone their essay writing skills to craft nuanced and persuasive arguments, delving into the intricate thematic, historical, and cultural contexts of texts.
This curriculum readies students for the Edexcel A-level English Literature exams, where they will demonstrate their mastery of literary analysis and critical thinking. Ultimately, it equips students with the knowledge and skills to excel in higher education and pursue careers in literature, the arts, or related fields.
You can download Knowledge Organisers for each year group from our Knowledge Organisers page.
For queries about the English curriculum please contact Isaac French firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further details of the curriculum can be found below.
Words, in my humble opinion, are the most inexhaustible source of magic we have.” Albus Dumbledore.
English underpins all learning. Having the ability to read, write and communicate allows all pupils to gain access to the entire world. The possibilities are endless. “High quality literary instruction, enables pupils to speak and write fluently so they can communicate their ideas and emotion to others, and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them.” (Myatt:2020). Through the teaching of reading, pupils gain access not only to imaginary worlds - through the exploration of narrative, but it also enables access to different cultures, religions and socio-economic groups.
The importance of being literate has never been more important in our society. As the EU High Level Report on Literacy points out: “the digital world is centred around the written word”. Those who struggle to read and write are at a catastrophic disadvantage. In addition, a research study conducted by psychologists Betty Hart and Todd Risley called the “30 Million Word Gap” showed that children from lower-income families hear a staggering 30 million fewer words than children from higher-income families by the time they are four years old.
Not surprisingly, this word gap puts children from our communities at a significant disadvantage. Their vocabularies are approximately half the size of their higher-income counterparts, and they are unprepared for the early years of school curriculum. What’s more, the word gap also has long-term effects on education, career, and family.
At Harris Garrard we aim to provide all children with a high-quality education so that outcomes are not determined by family income. The ability to read, write, speak and understand are essential skills that all pupils must master in order to be able to access all other areas of learning. It is our aim that no pupil leaves our primary phase without these core foundations in place.
The rationale of the teaching of reading at HGA is:
- To provide pupils with the imperative strategies and skills required to read fluently.
- This is achieved by rigorous progression and assessment via the different stages of reading, to ensure that pupils are taught to read fluently, with good understanding.
- To provide access to high quality texts that reflect cultural diversity (within the community) so pupils can gain future aspirations.
- Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading and spoken language
Evidence suggests that there is a positive relationship between reading frequency, reading enjoyment and attainment. (Clark 2007) Reading enjoyment has been highlighted as a key factor to the contribution of educational success.
Regardless of a pupil’s socio-economic backgrounds, it is imperative that they have access to high quality texts and literature.
Parental engagement is key to ensuring the Accelerated Reader program is effectively reinforced at home, therefore giving the pupils the best opportunity to score well in their weekly AR comprehension quizzes.
The rationale of the teaching of writing at HGA is:
- To provide pupils with transcriptional and compositional skills to allow them to communicate through a different form.
- Write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.
- To provide a classroom environment that is conducive to writing and supports effective writing instruction for all learners, including struggling writers and English Language Learners.
- Apply the wide vocabulary and understanding of grammar (from reading and speaking and listening) into their writing.
Speaking and Listening
Speaking and listening are central to teaching and learning in all curriculum areas. Talk is also the foundation of literacy. Young children listen and speak well before they read or write. They learn that they can use speech to express their needs and wishes, find out about things, and engage in imaginative, exploratory play. Children need opportunities to listen to and speak about different topics in a range of contexts in order to develop their language skills, which will also enhance their school achievement.
In many classrooms, talk is often dominated by the teacher. However, the pupils’ attitudes to learning – together with their learning gains – improve noticeably when, through their own talk, they are actively involved in the learning process. Offering high quality questioning not only gets pupils actively involved in talk, but encourages quality responses that require articulation, reasons and detail.
Miss Woods, VP and Primary English Lead
Mr Butcher, AP and Primary Reading Lead
In Year 7, students start by exploring the novel The Breadwinner and ideas of power that exist beyond their own lived experience. The text is written from the perspective of a young girl, Parvana, and, through this, students engage with the characters in the story as well as the intentions of the writer. There is a contextual focus on the ideas of power, extremism and immigration that provide our students with a greater understanding of the world beyond their lived experience through Literature.
In Term 2, students’ study two topics. Firstly, Myths and Legends exploring the elements of symbolism and metaphor in these shared stories that can be beneficial for extended creative writing. In addition, the unit helps to foster pupils’ imaginations by thinking about how the stories are presented. This in turn benefits the moral and ethical lessons that are conveyed through these stories, further expanding the horizons of our students.
Students progress to student The Tempest, their first Shakespearean play at secondary school, focusing on the exploration of the dynamic between the ruler, Prospero, and the enslaved monster on the island, Caliban. The text builds on questions of power and moral choices whilst exploring Shakespeare’s language and beginning to build the decoding skills in preparation for further study.
In Term 3, there are two further topics: A Monster Calls and Poetry. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is an engaging and emotive piece of writing that we use as a springboard for students to consider their own creative writing. It again, builds on some of the elements that exist throughout our Year 7 curriculum, such as being written from a child’s perspective, adhering to the bildungsroman genre of writing, and addressing key moralistic and social questions that Literature often brings up.
Our poetry unit completes the year with students studying our Learning to Love Poetry collection. These poems are set to focus on the key ideas of love, our city, childhood and stereotypes which continues to build on the learning that has taken place so far in the year. Students study range from the traditional poets like Robert Burns, to the contemporaries such as Rupi Kaur giving students a breadth of experience in what poetry can be.
At Year 8, students begin to explore more challenging texts in terms of the writer’s choices and the writer’s intentions. In Term 1, students study Andy Mulligan’s novel, Trash. Set in Behala on a trash site, it follows the lives of three boys living in destitution as their lives look set to change forever through one fortunate event. The text explores the role of government in LEDCs and likelihood of corruption when individuals hold power. The important lessons and key ideas of misusing power, poverty and inequality are vital for further study of literature and to continue to build the critical thinking skills necessary for students to become engaged readers.
In Term 2, we look at the violence, love and inevitable heart break of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Here, there is the first introduction of Shakespeare’s tragic arc, which is followed in all of Shakespeare’s tragedies, as well as an opportunity to further understand the language of Shakespeare. Students will be introduced to the sonnet form of writing, the role of a prologue, and the effect of dramatic irony across the term as well as the moralistic questions of right and wrong, and of defiance and acceptance.
Term 3 is separated into two topics. Firstly, we further explore poetry with a unit focused on identity, specifically that of our students their lived experience, before looking at how other people’s identities are shaped throughout time, through the place they grew up and through morals or beliefs they grew up with.
Finally, students finish Year 8 with a creative writing unit which takes from a collection named Diverse Shorts. The Diverse Shorts are excerpts from a broad range of writers and stories including Benjamin Zephaniah, George Orwell and Angie Thomas to name a few. Students explore the moral and ethical questions posed in these stories before taking skills that each writer employs and using these skills in their own writing. The use of excellent literature to scaffold a students creative development only enhances the engaged and compelling creative writing they are capable of producing.
Once a student is in Year 9, they begin to explore Victorian texts in a more developed sense, previously the Victorian knowledge students will have will be based on the poems they have studied through Key Stage 3 and History. A Christmas Carol allows a clear exploration of poverty, gender and power within the context of the Victorian era. This framing of big idea through the Victorian era is vital for progressing to Key Stage 4 where students are expected to study one Victorian text for their GCSEs.
In Term 2, students study one of Shakespeare’s more morally engaging plays, with a more complex relationship between race, faith and power. Merchant of Venice explores Shakespeare’s language further as well as looking at how interpretations of characters alter over time. There is a broad range of opportunities to debate the moral questions of the text that involve social diversity, social equality and broader questions of acceptance and tolerance. The questions raised by the text lead efficiently into the questions we want our students to be asking of Shakespeare’s Macbeth which student will study for GCSE.
Term 3 is comprised of two units: Blood Brothers and Step up to the Mic. Willy Russel’s seminal play, Blood Brothers, explores questions of class, gender as well as ideas surrounding how our upbringing informs our character. The core themes of violence, love and class are explored in this modern play which allows students to consider questions that will also be prevalent in Year 10.
The Step up to the Mic unit of work explores the oral communication that comes with English and specifically how we can write and speak about ourselves authentically and effectively. The unit looks at how our ability to talk improves our appearance in formal settings and, in turn, improves the opportunities that come up in future life. Students will do a speaking endorsement in their GCSEs and so this unit is an ideal introduction to the skills of speaking naturally and authentically in front of others.
In Year 10, each term will have a focus on English Literature for most of the term with the last two weeks focused on the skills for GCSE English Language. There are skill-based overlaps between the two qualifications, so the course is focused on content teaching and clear understanding of plot, characters and key ideas in Year 10. With this concrete base of knowledge, Year 11 then allows for further study, engagement, and emphasis on analytical writing.
In Term 1, Students study An Inspector Calls and two weeks on Creative Writing. The modern text is permeated by themes of class, gender and social responsibility. Students analyse the characters, plot and the key ideas, tracking the changes in the text to prepare for constructing arguments on the text in response to GCSE style questions.
The two weeks on creative writing uses a recognisable narrative structure for students to create their own fiction piece. By practicing in this writer’s room approach, students build on skills they have acquired through Key Stage 3 and progress these through using excellent literary examples that inform their own writing and improve their final written response.
The second half of Term 1 then explores Unseen Poetry and Analysing Fiction. Unseen Poetry is a section of the English Literature exam that requires students to consider the skills of identifying ideas in a poem they have not seen before and detailing how the writer has presented a given theme in the poem. They must also compare the methods used by two poets, again unseen. For the English Language component of this term students will build on analytical skills looking at language, structure, and the evaluation of writing to answer questions in the style of GCSE English Language Paper 1.
Term 2, students examine Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Transactional Writing and Analysing Non Fiction. The unit on Macbeth will explore the relationship between characters, plot, key ideas and context for students to build on their ability to decode Shakespeare’s language and be clear on the changes that take place throughout the play. In addition, students will develop their understanding of genre, specifically that of a Shakespearean tragedy.
AQA English Language Paper 2 tests students’ ability to analyse non-fiction and to write in a non-fiction (transactional) style. We focus on these in two, two-week windows in Term 2 exploring good examples of article writing, matching register of writing to the audience it is intended for; and considering the authenticity of the writer’s voice. For non-fiction analysis the students explore summarising, analysing and examining attitudes in a writer’s work.
By Term 3, having covered the English Language course, we study two English Literature units: Power and Conflict Poetry and The Stange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a Victorian novella that examines the role of respectability and deception within the context of Victorian London. There is a development of the ideas explored in Year 9 (A Christmas Carol) whilst ensuring that characters, plot and key ideas are sufficiently covered to provide an excellent base for Year 11.
The Power and Conflict anthology comprised 15 poems that students study around the theme of how power is used and what can be meant by conflict. Students are asked, in an exam, to compare two of these poems on a given theme within the larger topic of Power and Conflict. Students will only have one poem in the exam as the other poem is their choice and so there is a requirement to explore each poem, understand the message and the writer’s intentions. In some instances, some of these poems will be completed at the beginning of Year 11.
For Year 11, the course, which has been covered in full in Year 10, is revisited throughout the year and ideas are developed further. There is a focus on the resilience required for extended exam writing and the mental dexterity required to move efficiently from examining one text in one section of the exam to examining a separate text in another.
Year 11 priorities are determined by the mock examinations and in class assessments. Every text and section of English Literature and English Language is re-covered throughout the year prior to the final examinations.
English is a crucial subject and significantly increases a student’s employability later in life. Students who do well in English are given fantastic opportunities to pursue a number of careers. Some examples are listed below:
- Professions (law, human resources, banking, accountancy, insurance)
- Public sector (administration, civil service, health service, local government, police, armed forces)
- Teaching (schools, colleges, universities, teaching English aboard)
- Media (journalism, publishing, television and radio, copywriting, events management)
- Influencing (advertising, public relations, marketing, retail management, sales)
- Helping (social work, youth work, probation work, nursing, housing)
- Information (librarianship, archives, information officer, bookseller)
English is also a subject which can be taken to a high academic level with students studying MAs and PhDs.
Find out more about the careers programme at Harris Garrard Academy.