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The purpose of the KS3 curriculum is

  • to develop the students’ skills in reading, writing and spoken language.
  • to engender a knowledge of and love for Literature from a range of genres, times, cultures and places.
  • to equip students with the tools to use language appropriately in a range of contexts and for a variety of purposes. To support students in becoming young people with a knowledge of the world they live in and the people who have made significant contributions to that world; and young people who form and can express viewpoints about that world

What is taught and how?

In years 7, 8 and 9, students read and explore five whole fiction texts, three Shakespeare plays and a range of shorter fiction, non-fiction and poetry. They learn to engage with texts by identifying and interpreting information, exploring how writers convey meaning through their linguistic and structural choices; identifying writers’ ideas and perspectives and developing personal and critical responses to texts. Across all three years, students learn to write for a range of purposes and audiences and in a range of forms, selecting language for effect and structuring their writing appropriately. They learn to write with accuracy and clarity and to develop a wide vocabulary. Across Key Stage 3, students learn about a broad range of historical periods and cultures and the people who have made a significant contribution to those times and places. The teaching and learning cycle is used in lessons to deconstruct, co-construct and independently construct written responses. More detail on what is studied in each year is shown below.


Teachers assess formatively throughout every unit and give a combination of individual and whole class feedback to help students make further progress. Teachers use this work to address common misconceptions and plan future learning. At least once in each unit, students complete a formal standardised practice task, which is marked and individual targets for improvement are set. These tasks are a combination of reading, writing and spoken language. Students are regularly given Progress scores so they know if they are making the expected level of progress. No marks or grades are given until the end of year 9. Students sit formal exams at the end of year 7 and 8, which assess their reading comprehension and English spelling, grammar and punctuation skills. At the end of year 9, students sit two GCSE style English Language papers which are marked and given a Working Towards Grade.


Homework is set weekly in years 7, 8 and 9. Tasks range from: independent reading; learning spellings and new vocabulary; short practice tasks; revision and self-testing; research activities in preparation for future learning. Homework tasks are peer or self-assessed or teachers may give whole class feedback on the short practice tasks. 

Year 7 

Students study Treasure Island at the start of the year following on from work done on induction day and a summer writing project. They also study two full prose text and a Shakespeare play as well as a themed unit on ‘The Natural World’.  Within these units they develop a range of reading, writing and spoken language and have opportunities to practice these skills and receive feedback. 

Year 8 

Students study 3 themed units: Heroes and Villains; Change and The Unknown. Within these units they develop and are assessed on a range of reading, writing and speaking and listening skills. They also study one full prose text and a Shakespeare play. Within these units they develop a range of reading, writing and spoken language and have opportunities to practice these skills and receive feedback. 

Year 9 

Students spend year 9 preparing for their GCSE course. They study a prose text and a Shakespeare play. They are assessed during these extended units using GCSE style exam questions. They also study different styles of writing as well as responding to unseen fiction and non-fiction texts. Students in year 9 sit two practice GCSE exam papers in term 5. At the end of the year they study a range of poetry skills analysing both seen and unseen poetry. 

Throughout Key Stage 3 drama is also delivered through English lessons. 

Key Stage 4 

In years 10 and 11 all students study for two GCSEs: English Language and English Literature. We use the exam board AQA for both of these subjects. 

English Language: 

Students study a range of reading and writing skills using unseen fiction and non-fiction texts from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries in preparation for two exams at the end of year 11. 

Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing​ 

Students answer four reading questions about one 20th or 21st century fiction text and complete one piece of creative writing based on an image stimulus. 

Paper 2: Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives​ 

Students answer four reading questions about two non-fiction texts, including a 19th century text, and complete one piece of viewpoint writing​ in response to a given statement. 

English Literature: 

Students will study three complete texts and a collection of themed poetry in preparation for two exams at the end of year 11. 

Paper 1:  Shakespeare and the C19th Novel​ 

Students answer one question on each text they have studied. Students need to analyse an extract from the text and make links to the wider text. 

Students study either ‘Macbeth’ or ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for the Shakespeare text. They study either ‘A Christmas Carol’ or ‘Frankenstein’ for the 19th Century text. 

Paper 2: Modern Texts and Poetry 

Students answer one question from a choice of two on the Modern Text they have studied. They then answer one question comparing two of the poems they have studied. Finally, they analyse an unseen poem before comparing it to another unseen poem. 

Students study one modern text from a choice of the following: 

  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 
  • Blood Brothers by Willy Russell 
  • An Inspector Calls by JB Priestley 
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding 
  • Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman 

Students study one cluster of 15 poems: either Power and Conflict or Love and Relationships from the AQA anthology.