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The aims of the English curriculum at Severn Vale are:

  • to develop the students’ skills and interest 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 gaining knowledge and understanding of the world they live in and the people who have made significant contributions to that world.
  • to celebrate the wealth of interests, passions and expertise within the staff team in order to inspire the students.

What is taught and how?

During years 7, 8 and 9, students read and explore five whole fiction texts, two full 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.


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. Students complete several formal standardised assessments throughout the three years, but no marks or grades are given until the end of year 9 because the focus is on progress and improvement.


Homework is set regularly in years 7, 8 and 9 and is designed to be purposeful and relevant. 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. The rest of the year is spent studying a mixture of whole texts and extract-based units designed to provide a sound foundation for future study. This includes, but is not limited to, spoken word poetry, the Romantic movement, and Shakespeare.

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.

Year 9 

Students spend year 9 preparing for their GCSE course. They study a prose text and a full Shakespeare play in addition to a number of language-based units. We use these units to begin the transition to GCSE-style assessment structures and questions.

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. Full details of the course structure and specification can be found here: AQA | GCSE | English Language | Specification at a glance

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. Full details of the course structure and specification can be found here: AQA | GCSE | English Literature | Specification at a glance

All students study A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and either Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Teachers choose which modern text their classes will study based on their own interests and suitability for the class. Teachers also choose which poetry cluster they teach based on their personal interests.