As a subject, English is essential to enable students to access the curriculum across the school, but also, fundamentally, to prepare them for the social, cultural and emotional demands of the 21st century. Through the study of literature, students will have insight into the experiences of others from across different cultures and times, and through the study of language, they will learn to explore the way our language represents us and how we can use it to shape experiences. We aim to provide students with a wealth of different text types, from canonical literary texts, to examples of spoken English and media texts. This range will enable them to become critical readers and thinkers, with an appreciation for the way language is manipulated in the modern world.
Through year 7, students follow a programme which builds upon the skills of KS2, developing their understanding of reading, writing and spoken language. Initially, the students study a range of narrative extracts, developing key analytical skills and applying them to the unseen texts, looking at aspects of voice, devices to open stories and how language is used for effect. Then they develop a technical skill base, exploring ‘forensic linguistics’ by applying language analysis techniques to pieces of real evidence to solve an actual crime. From there, we jump into the enchanted world of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, learning about the dramatic genre and analysing character. We then study a further play, this time focusing on writing drama pieces. The class novel for the year is the award winning ‘Smart’ by Kim Slater, a detective story from a different perspective and the year ends with a unit on the media and how journalism works.
As students enter year 8, the level of challenge increases as we start to explore works from the 19th century. They begin by looking at story writing techniques and then apply the methods to analyse works by Dickens, followed by some stories by Roald Dahl to show the contrast. Then they study a unit of spoken language – asking ‘big questions’ about moral and ethical dilemmas, to encourage students to form reasoned arguments and debate effectively. For the class novel, we read A Monster Calls, an extraordinary and heartbreaking tale of love, loss, healing and, above all, the courage it takes to survive. We move onto exploring a range of non-fiction texts from different time periods, finishing the year with a unit on poetry through time.
Year 9 starts with the study of a range of dystopian texts; they range from classics like 1984, to modern texts like The Hunger Games and the more obscure, like The Ones who Walked Away From Omelas. The students then hone their writing skills, creating a portfolio of works as they journey through the ‘Adventure of Writing’. We explore conflict in Shakespeare’s tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, then explore similar themes through the genre of protest poetry. Finally, the year comes to a close with the classic Of Mice and Men and a unit on short unseen texts, exploring and creating fiction.