Our Curriculum Intent for English
Our English Curriculum for KS3 aims to be a representation of the Discipline of English through taking a concept-led approach. Through the careful study and exemplification of carefully chosen disciplinary concepts, learners become masters of this domain and build disciplinary schemas around the subject of English. Throughout Key Stage three, learners will understand the concept that stories help us to understand the world around us, that writers make decisions that shape meaning for the reader and that characters are constructs, created to capture something about people in real life. They will study the concept that writers use setting to shape meaning and that writing is always informed by the context in which it is written and interpreted in the context in which it is read. They will learn that texts are made up of shapes and patterns and that in English writers build layers of meaning and things often have symbolic meaning. Finally, they will learn that groups in society are represented in texts, sometimes unfairly and that all writing intends to influence.
We want our learners to feel inspired by and to see the transformative power of great Literature. We want to expose them to diverse texts that they feel represent them and their lives and that teach them acceptance and empathy. Through our curriculum we aim to prioritise thought and discussion and to create learners who seek and relish challenge.
In term one, year 7 will begin by studying the disciplinary concept that people make sense of the world through stories. Here they will be introduced to the central idea that authors make specific choices and have specific intentions they want to portray to their readers. They will learn how character and setting are important parts of all storytelling and will look at different types of stories, from Greek and urban myths, stories with a moral and epic poetry to the modern novel ‘Kick’, by Mitch Johnson. They will then study how narratives are successfully created and have the opportunity to plan, write and re-draft a narrative of their own. Learners will also be introduced to classical and biblical allusion.
In term 2, year 7 will study the concept of authorial intentionality. This is the concept that writers make choices that shape meaning for the reader. They will study this concept through an exploration of the genius of Shakespeare, building on their prior knowledge from KS2 of Elizabethan and Jacobean England, for example by looking at the Great Chain of Being and witchcraft and superstition. Throughout this unit they will have the opportunity to closely analyse texts and explore how characters are presented through language choices. They will study the concept of villainy, specifically looking at four famous villains from Shakespeare’s plays. They will extend their knowledge of linguistic and poetic devices and improve their understanding of how to use these to present a point of view of their own. They will be introduced to the idea of ‘The Human Condition’ and how this impacts all literature and take their first steps to understanding gender stereotypes.
In term 3, year 7 will study the concept that writers use character to shape meaning for readers and how they do that, including through linguistic and grammatical devices. They will study this concept through reading the novel ‘The Way Past Winter’, by by Kiran Millwood Hargrave along with a range of satellite texts that further exemplify this concept. They will explore how relationships between characters are developed by writers as well as looking at whole text structure. They will have the opportunity to look at different character types and to create a character of their own, which they will them place into a piece of imaginative writing. They will further consolidate their understanding of the concept of gender, gender stereotypes and author subversion of these.
In term 1, year 8 will study the concept of context. This is the concept that texts are Informed by the contexts in which they are written and interpreted in the context in which they are read. This unit will take learners on a journey through some of the key literary periods across time. They will further explore the Human Condition and the things that mattered to people during different eras, with a focus on how these things influenced writers of the time. They will consider how texts are interpreted differently depending on the context of the reader. Learners will look in depth at Romanticism and the Victorian Era and be introduced to Dickens’ world as well as other more modern writers such as Simon Armitage along with reading a full novel ‘The Ruby in the Smoke’ by Phillip Pullman. They will build on their knowledge of authorial intention and how to write analytically about texts. They will study the modern era and look at some WWII poetry, including an introduction to Wilfred Owen. They will write analytically to compare why two different poets created their poems and how they conveyed their different messages.
In term 2, year 8 will study the concept of setting. This is the concept that writers use setting to shape meanings for the reader. They will study setting through an exploration of the Gothic genre as well as other satellite texts where setting is an important characteristic. Learners will look at how time, place and environment are important factors in any story and how those factors help us to understand meaning and author intention. They will also explore how writers use setting to establish mood and the use of pathetic fallacy and why it is an important component of setting. They will also have further opportunity to consolidate their understanding of previous concepts: context and characterisation. In this unit, learners will create a gothic setting using their knowledge of common conventions of these.
In term 3, Year 8 will return to Shakespeare, with an in-depth study of his famous play Romeo and Juliet. The play will be taught with a focus on how Shakespeare’s play is made up of patterns from the wider generic rules such as what elements make a tragedy, and how is the play structured, to the more granular elements like Shakespeare’s use of motif. Gender stereotypes, family relationships and a patriarchal society are also considered in this unit.
In year 9, learners will begin to consider some of the more complex concepts within the domain of English. They will begin in term one by exploring the concept that all writing intends to influence a reader in some way. They will revisit the concept of authorial intentionality and how this influences our understanding of a text and its wider concepts. They will also begin to consider how and why writers represent certain groups or individuals, sometimes in an unfair way or in an attempt to influence the reader. Understanding this concept of influence will support learners in exploring all texts, both fiction and non-fiction and help them to understand a writer’s wider purpose. They will explore this concept through reading the modern novel ‘Refugee Boy’ by Benjamin Zephaniah, as well as looking at a number of poems and extracts and analysing how and why they influence the reader.
In term two, learners will explore the concept of symbolism: the concept that in writing, one thing can represent or be symbolic of something else. It can have a wider meaning. Here, they will learn how writing often has a deeper meaning than the surface level one. They will discover how writers use symbols to communicate complex ideas and will see this exemplified in a modern play ‘Blood Brothers’, by Willy Russell. They will also explore the social context of the play, revisiting the importance of the how context influences writing. They will look at examples of symbols in art, poetry and other literary extracts and how these symbols can help to shape meaning for the reader, exploring different types of symbols and the ways in which they are used.
The final unit of year 9 focuses on the concept of representation: The concept that groups within society are represented in texts, sometimes unfairly. Learners will study this concept through exploring how different groups are represented in John Steinbeck’s controversial novella ‘Of Mice and Men’ as well as how these particular groups are represented differently across different texts and why. They will counter these representations by looking as well at authentic voices from these groups. They will be introduced to the concept of ‘The Single Story’, the idea that often people have prejudices that come from a lack of understanding a ‘balance of stories’. They will explore the deeper concept of marginalisation.
By mastering our nine carefully chosen concepts at key stage three, learners will have solid disciplinary knowledge that they will be able to transfer and apply to their studies of our GCSE texts as they move into key stage 4.
Throughout years 10 and 11, learners will move on to their GCSE studies. Over the course of KS4, learners will study two GCSEs: English Language and English Literature both of which are accredited individually. At Upper Batley High School, we follow AQA’s specifications for English Language and English Literature and the two subjects are taught concurrently, culminating in non-tiered terminal examinations at the end of Year 11. Both subjects are assessed with 100% examination.
In English Language lessons learners will look in detail at a range of fiction and non-fiction texts, applying their knowledge of author intention to demonstrate understanding of how writing is crafted. They will consider how writers use language and structure to create effects and use their inference, evaluative and comparative skills. They will also then learn how to craft their own writing, both to describe and narrate and to present a point of view.
In English Literature, learners will study a range of texts from poems, to novels and plays. English Literature Paper 1 is entitled Shakespeare and 19th Century Novel. At Upper Batley High School, we study Shakespeare’s Macbeth and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. English Literature Paper 2 is called Modern Texts and Poetry. For this paper we will study J.B Priestley’s modern play ‘An Inspector Calls’, an anthology of poetry on themes of Power and Conflict and finally look at approaches to analysing unseen poetry.
In literature examinations learners will be assessed on their ability to read, understand and respond to texts, write in a critical style and give a personal response to each text. They will also be assessed on their ability to analyse language, structure and form in writing and how well they understand the relationships between texts and the context in which they were written.
The final component of the English GCSEs is the Spoken Language element. This is accredited separately, with learners assessed against a pass, merit, distinction criteria. This is an opportunity for learners to write and perform a speech about something they are passionate about. Learners will independently research a topic and create a speech using on Aristotle’s principles of rhetoric.
Please see below for our English GCSE Learning Journey, which shows show how the courses are broken down and the order in which all of the elements of both GCSES will be taught.