In Year 7, all pupils take part in the Accelerated Reader programme. This is a computerised programme that aims to encourage and motivate children to read widely and often. Pupils are set personalised targets each term and work towards these during Study Centre lessons, tutor time and at home. Diagnostic tests are also used to determine pupils’ reading and spelling ages, thereby allowing pupils to focus on improving areas of development whilst building on their strengths.
The Year 7 English curriculum is designed to develop pupils’ skills and expertise in reading, writing, speaking and listening. The pupils study a variety of different texts including novels and plays, and also complete an Introduction to Poetry unit. In the spring and summer terms, students explore how news is presented in different forms, and consider the variety of media through which texts can be displayed and interpreted. Throughout the year pupils are taught about different styles of writing and how to tailor their own work to suit the selected purpose and intended audience.
The Year 8 curriculum builds on the work undertaken in Year 7. The Accelerated Reader programme continues throughout the year. In classrooms, students study units of work on autobiography and literary heritage, including a detailed examination of a Shakespeare play. The students’ expertise in media is further developed through a unit of work on advertisements, considering both how they are constructed and the role they play within society. Year 8 teachers will also select a novel to explore with their class. Throughout Year 8 an increased focus is placed on developing students’ speaking and listening skills, both formally and informally.
Throughout KS3, at least one reading, writing or speaking & listening assessment is carried out every half term.
In Year 9, pupils continue to develop their English Language and Literature skills in preparation to start their GCSEs. The course follows the structure of the AQA examinations for Literature and Language to enable the pupils to acquire their first experiences of GCSE examinations within a classroom setting. The texts covered includes a selection of challenging novels historically examined in GCSE examinations – such as ‘Lord of the Flies’, ‘of Mice and Men’ – and a selection and inspirational and multi-cultural poetry. The pupils also have opportunities to refine their writing skills in a range of styles by examining and emulating the different text types – both fiction and non-fiction – that they will encounter in their examinations.
In the summer term of Year 9 students begin their GCSE studies in earnest by studying the Modern 20th Century text that they will be examined on at the end of Year 11.
Years 10 and 11
Throughout Year 10 and 11 pupils study two GCSEs: English Language and English Literature. The students will follow the AQA syllabus. This comprises two papers for English Language: Paper 1, Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing; and Paper 2, Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives. These challenging papers require students to analyse and evaluate how writers influence their reader in both fiction and non-fiction writing, and to demonstrate that they can use these skills themselves.
The English Literature GSCE also comprises two exam papers. The first paper examines students’ ability at analysing a Shakespeare play and a novel published before 1900. The second paper sets questions on a piece of drama from the Twentieth Century, a collection of fifteen poems drawn from the last 200 years, and unseen poetry.
In addition to these examinations, the GCSE syllabus requires students to be formally assessed on their speaking and listening skills. This assessment typically takes the place of a formal presentation to their classmates.