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Lauren Haywood - Head of English - lauren.haywood@swale.at

Subject Overview

Our rich, research based English curriculum, delivered through high quality teaching, prepares our students for the wider world and the world of work, where English skills are vital and highly valued. Every unit of work has been designed to include: reading fiction, reading non-fiction, different styles of writing, learning and using challenging vocabulary and opportunities for developing oracy skills. We teach English as one subject, alternating between a Literature and Language focus. Students build their skills and knowledge through each scheme; they are assessed throughout the term formatively and work towards a half termly end of unit assessment. Students are regularly given opportunities to reflect on their progress and respond to feedback to improve their work. Homework is set weekly through Google Classroom and is differentiated to support and challenge. Students also have regular vocabulary and retrieval practice tests to support their literacy, introduce them to new vocabulary and consolidate their learning. 

English helps students connect with the world around them and the people in it; it enables them to develop emotionally, intellectually, culturally, morally, socially and spiritually. It is essential for students to be able to confidently express themselves in a variety of contexts, to communicate with others and to foster their creativity. We study a range of classic literary heritage and modern, inclusive literature texts that we believe engage and enrich our students, increase their cultural capital, help them to learn about the experiences of others and develop empathy, through texts about race, gender, the experience of refugees and children with special needs.

A main aim for English is to promote high standards of literacy by giving pupils a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through reading a variety of texts for pleasure. Our curriculum also has the PCS values of: resilience, reliability, rigour, respect and representation at its core. We also teach critical literacy, encouraging students to question the validity and integrity of texts they encounter.

We recognise that English skills are essential to all career choices and development and seek to make real world links within our curriculum wherever possible through the teaching of: journalistic and communication skills, including public speaking formal writing and collaboration through oracy that are essential in a work context. We also prioritise reading skills and regularly teach skills such as skimming, scanning, selecting specific information, emphasising to students that these are essential to navigate within the modern workplace.

Finally, through the study of English, we wish to instil in our students a lifelong love of learning, words and reading for pleasure.

Student quotes:

I enjoy English Language, especially creative writing. I have developed my ability to write in a range of different styles.

Teaching and Learning

Year 7

We begin the year in Year 7 by exploring two popular novels, Holes by Louis Sachar, and Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Through our reading of these texts we focus on developing analytical skills as well as instilling in our students a joy of reading. The analytical skills the students begin to develop in the first term are developed further through our poetry module which focuses on war poetry. We explore a range of voices through these poems and consider the importance of exploring an issue from different perspectives. The students’ own writing skills are developed through schemes which focus on travel writing and the sea. These are broad topics which allow for a plethora of texts to be explored as well as a wide range of writing styles to be practised and honed. Our drama text of Year 7 is Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Through studying this, the students are given the opportunity to embed their prior learning on detailed textual analysis as well as explore the more active learning styles that a dramatic text affords.

By the end of Year 7 we hope that all students will be able to approach English lessons with positivity and a growing confidence in their ability to be able to critically analyse a text.

Year 8

Our year 8 students begin with a focus on developing their reading skills and growing their own critical voice by looking at two texts consecutively: Now is the Time for Running by Michael Williams and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. Both novels deal with different cultural perspectives and allow students to engage and empathise with a range of diverse characters. This analytical approach is built upon further when we go on to examine the superhero genre. This will include creating a variety of different writing forms together and analysing recent film, image and text alike to explore the  manipulation of the viewer and representation in the media. They will also develop their understanding of the dramatic form with our performance and analytical work on both more contemporary (Blood Brothers by Willy Russell) and heritage plays (The Tempest by Shakespeare). We finish the year by looking at the world of work and focusing on signposting future career paths for students, utilising their English skills effectively, as well as revealing the gritty reality behind child labour - modern and historical.

With every topic we approach, students will feel increasingly confident in analysing different text types as we ensure an ambitious breadth of these are available for study in class. This will allow their reading and writing skills to continue maturing steadily along their journey towards Year 9.

Year 9

Year 9 opens with re-establishing diversity as a key part of our students’ educational journey, studying challenging texts like Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck from the 1930s, and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, from 2017. These texts both encourage students to explore the worldview of others and empathise with a variety of fictional voices across time.

Our gothic horror module then succeeds this, building on students’ knowledge of the genre from their study of Coraline in Year 7. Students love learning to direct their reader’s responses, building tension through narrative structure and characterisation, as well as continuing to expand upon their vocabulary and written accuracy skills established throughout earlier school years. We then move towards a focus on love and relationships through looking at an impressive collection of poetry, followed by tragedy in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. These classic concepts are examined from a multitude of angles, thereby allowing scope for students to develop their sense of self and reinforce healthy relationship ideals. Finally, we close the year with a look to the future. This is particularly timely as students are actively deliberating their own futures through considering careers and embarking on the next stage of their school journey through the climb to their GCSEs. The module consists of investigating the possibilities of the future through science fiction, poems, technology-focused news articles, dystopian texts and film. Students complete Year 9 engaged and confident in their reading, writing and oracy abilities, allowing them to tackle the even more challenging upcoming GCSE texts, skills and exams with aplomb.

Year 10

In Year 10, our students begin to study specific texts for their Literature GCSE. Building upon the critical analytical skills they developed throughout Key Stage 3, students in Year 10 engage with a range of texts written in different time periods, challenging students to explore linguistic evolution.

Starting with Macbeth, we guide students to further explore Shakeseare’s writing and intentions for a 17th century audience, considering how the form of a play influences audience response. This is followed by A Christmas Carol, where students draw comparisons between Victorian and modern contexts. They will also analyse Dickens’ use of language, structure and form to develop character.

Students will then turn their attention to anthology poetry, studying a collection of 15 poems which address the themes of Power and Conflict. Through studying the works of these diverse poets from the 18th century to present day, students will expand their understanding of the eternal struggles we have with power and conflict. The final text students study is An Inspector Calls. Students will revisit the form of a play, exploring how this is used to provide social commentary.

Alongside the study of each text, we will provide students with the opportunity to develop their narrative and critical voices as they explore their personal responses through a range of creative, persuasive and non-fiction writing tasks. They will also study fiction and non-fiction that complements the themes explored in their literature texts. They will examine how texts are constructed for effect and this will ensure that they are preparing for GCSE English Language through their study of Literature.

Year 11

Year 11 sees the culmination of students’ English education. All that they have studied in Years 7 to 10 has allowed them to refine their reading, writing and oracy skills. In preparation for their final exams, students will revisit each of the literature texts, to consolidate and expand their knowledge. They will also undertake the study of a range of short texts and extracts, both fiction and non-fiction. A thematic approach is taken throughout this year, with a focus on Conflict, Relationships and Protest. Students will explore the way that writers construct their texts for purpose and audience, evaluating their successes. They will also consider their own Media Literacy through the study of documentary, including the film Blackfish. Students will  continue to develop their writing skills in response to these themes, constructing narratives and non-fiction texts to mirror their analytical approach to reading.

Complementing their study of English at GCSE, students will complete the Spoken Language Component, which requires them to speak on a subject of their choice to an audience of their peers which will be independently researched and written and will be recorded for evidence. This activity allows students to further develop their critical thinking and verbal communication skills, leaving secondary school as confident, well-rounded individuals, able to take their next steps into the world of work and further education.


The AQA course is examined through 100% final exam, as stipulated by Government reforms to qualifications. Students are assessed throughout their course through formative and summative assessment in class, as well as through formal mock examination.


Homework is set once a week in accordance with the homework timetable. Homework always includes learning 10 spellings that are tested in lesson. All weekly spellings can be found on the website, on Show My Homework and students will also be provided with a paper copy.

Examples of homework tasks are:

• Research what school life was like in the early 20th century in the UK. Present your findings as a leaflet or a poster. Use the question sheet to help direct your research.
• Write a descriptive piece (one A4 side) or a poem about a friendship that has been important to you.
• Using your notes, practise your speech with a friend or a member of your family. Ask them to time you (it should last three-four minutes) and then ask you questions about your topic.

Homework is easily accessible to students through Show my Home