Intent and Aims
As a department, we hope that students leave us appreciating the significance of English in their lives - the authorial craft and intention of writers who have gone before them equipping them to become excellent communicators themselves in the future. This is achieved through exposing students to texts from the literary canon and beyond, ensuring students have an appreciation of the diversity and history of both language and literature. Students work on their analysis of a wide variety of texts, expand their cultural capital and knowledge, and develop skills in empathy, understanding and identifying nuances of meaning that will be vital in helping them to communicate and thrive within our modern world.
We support students to achieve highly throughout their time in the English Department at MSSC. Recent changes at Key Stage 2 mean that our students join us in Year 7 with a keen grasp of a range of textual and grammatical concepts. Our schemes of learning are designed with academic rigour and ambition in mind, ensuring students are challenged at every point of their school career and build on knowledge and skills acquired through previous study. We encourage students to become resilient and independent learners, who take pride in their work and conduct themselves courteously both inside and outside of the classroom.
- To encourage a love of literature and language within and beyond the classroom
- Encourage students to consider the application of skills from their study of language and literature in a range of real-life contexts and to see the value of oracy and literacy
- Ensure students are able to read widely and independently both set texts and others that they have selected for themselves
- Ensure that students engage critically and creatively with a substantial body of texts across periods and genres, and develop ways of responding to them
- Develop pupil’s ability to effectively apply their knowledge of literary and linguistic analysis and evaluation in writing
- Explore the contexts of the text’s students are reading and explore others’ interpretations of them
- Encourage students to empathise with people from varied backgrounds and explore how literature and language affects and expresses our humanity
- Develop students’ understanding of different viewpoints and perspectives to enable them to advance culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually
- Encourage students to become enquiring, critical individuals, who have explored a wide range of concepts and issues relating to the lives and experiences of others
- Enable students to understand why English has a pre-eminent place in education and society, and appreciate the fundamental importance of storytelling and communication to our humanity
- demonstrate their appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage through reading for enjoyment, developing the habit of reading a range of increasingly varied and challenging texts, for both pleasure and information, reading with ease, fluency, excellent comprehension, and with increasing independence, resilience and analytical insight;
- write with increasing levels of flair, imagination and precision, displaying a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences;
- analyse different types of texts in detail, making links within and between texts, demonstrating an understanding that texts are constructed by writers who convey ideas to their readers using a range of methods to achieve their aims, showing increasing confidence when discussing how and why a writer presents ideas, and be able to construct increasingly well-developed arguments;
- make formal presentations and use discussion in order to learn, elaborating and explaining clearly their understanding, emotions and ideas, considering the views of others critically, sensitively and with empathy, showing an increasing appreciation of the use of role, intonation, tone, volume, mood, silence, stillness and action to add impact to the spoken word.
- The key components of different styles of writing including diaries, letters, articles, journals, blogs and reports.
- The ability to scan, skim and closely read a literary and non-literary fiction text
- How to synthesise and summarise texts, including how to use comparative connectives
- The meaning of a complex vocabulary of words
- A variety of complex grammar, text structure and organisational features
- A range of figurative language and rhetorical language devices and show an understanding how these have been used for effect
- The need to contextualise different texts in terms of social historical context (for texts from an older time period) and in terms of the purpose, audience and form of Non-Fiction texts.
- Different critical linguistic theories and concepts.
- Aspects of form, narrative and literary devices as applicable to:
- The ability to scan, skim and closely read a literary text
- How to synthesise and summarise texts
- The meaning of a complex vocabulary of words
- The need to contextualise texts in terms of their socio-, historic and cultural contexts and how these affect the production and reception of a text by readers over time
- A variety of complex grammar, text structure and organisational features
- A range of figurative language and show an understanding of how these have been used for effect
- Different critical and literary interpretations of the set texts
Our programmes of study
In Years 7, 8 and 9, students build on their Key Stage 2 knowledge and begin to apply this in a range of more challenging ways. Schemes of learning are designed to build upon one another, so that students feel supported in tackling a range of new concepts. Our curriculum aims to be knowledge rich, using a wide range of challenging texts to introduce generic study, appreciation of a variety of forms and structures, and ensuring that students are exposed to both modern texts and texts from our literary heritage. Our curriculum focuses on students receiving a broad and ambitious diet, which builds in complexity year on year in preparation for their study at Key Stage 4.
We develop a wide range of personal skills through exploration of textual and moral dilemmas, the holding of debates and the continual development of empathy. A wide range of challenging issues prompted by textual study help students to develop their ability to reason, appreciate the views of others and communicate their thoughts with clarity and respect. We embed the British values of respect and tolerance throughout our classroom practice, and create opportunities for students to ask questions, build confidence and become resilient in their learning.
Explicit vocabulary instruction, high quality examples of writing from teachers and embedded teaching of grammar, as well as their consistent exposure to excellent literature, help students to improve their literacy and oracy skills.
Students develop these personal skills during KS3:
- How to discuss a wide range of issues with sensitivity and thought, such as the impact of grief in A Monster Calls
- Guided to develop empathy skills using texts studied, such as exploring concepts of prejudice against the working class in Blood Brothers
- An understanding of how views have developed and changed over time, including concepts of religion, societal structures, gender roles, family dynamics and the experiences of writers from diverse backgrounds. We explore this through writers from different backgrounds in poetry, considering how they reflect the attitudes of their circumstance.
- How to consider alternative interpretations and synthesise these with personal opinions, such as the motivations of the characters in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
- Using personal skills like time management, independence and resilience in preparation for Spoken Language study
- Development of literacy skills to improve access to the whole curriculum
Each unit contains a midpoint assessment, where students are assessed on their knowledge so far and given specific, incisive feedback on how to improve in readiness for their final assessment, which assesses all knowledge and skills taught in the unit. We support students to be successful in their assessed work by exposing them to high quality examples, ensuring they are entirely familiar with the skills they are being taught and how they relate to their assessment criteria, and providing support and scaffolding where necessary to ensure every student achieves their potential.
In Years 10 and 11, students take the foundations they have built from KS3 and begin to apply them to exam texts and questions to prepare for their GCSEs. Schemes of learning have been carefully sequenced to introduce more accessible texts and papers first, before building in complexity and challenge later in the course. Students are exposed to drama, poetry and prose, and through our choice of texts we again place the author’s intentions at the heart of our teaching. We focus on building real insight and perception in years 10 and 11, knowing that students arrive from Year 9 with rich knowledge and a range of transferable reading and writing skills.
Students explore a wide range of concepts throughout their study, and all of our texts have common themes and dilemmas: what it means to be human, the fallibility of man, the way that literature can reflect and critique a society. We embed the British values of respect and tolerance throughout our classroom practice, and create opportunities for students to ask questions, build confidence and become resilient in their learning as we did throughout KS3.
Explicit vocabulary instruction, high quality examples of writing from teachers and embedded teaching of grammar, as well as their consistent exposure to excellent literature, help students to improve their literacy and oracy skills. Students are encouraged to recall previous content regularly through the use of retrieval starters which aims to ensure that vital content is not forgotten over the two year course.
Students gain cultural capital and awareness through their study of seminal works of English Literature throughout history. In Year 10, students grapple with the concepts of power, conflict, love, change, time and nature through their exploration of poetry, and consider the social and moral implications of texts like An Inspector Calls and A Christmas Carol as studied in their contexts of production. In Year 11, students build further, applying their understanding of authorial intention to Macbeth and its complex themes, and using their resilience and confidence with 19th century texts to engage with the non fiction comparative reading.
Each Literature unit includes a midpoint knowledge tests which allows us to diagnose any misconceptions that students may have and reteach these. Students are then assessed more holistically at the end of the unit (both Language and Literature) using a GCSE style question for which they receive both numerical scores and feedback on how to improve at their next attempt. We support students to be successful in their assessed work by exposing them to high quality examples, ensuring they are entirely familiar with the skills they are being taught and how they relate to their assessment criteria, and providing support and scaffolding where necessary to ensure every student achieves their potential.
At KS5, we follow the OCR specification for English Language. Two exam papers make up 80% of the final mark that the students can obtain. Each exam requires the students to answer three questions. On the first exam, students are asked to analyse how a writer of a non-fiction text has used words and constructed sentences to achieve their aims, then write a speech or blog that explores a topical language issue (such as whether the English language is sexist or how technology is affecting the English language), then analyse how language is used in different ways in a spoken text and another text.
On the second paper, students are asked to evaluate the language development of a child speaker, then analyse how a media text represents people and ideas, and finally, discuss how two texts on the same topic but written centuries apart present similar ideas in different ways.
In Year 13, we introduce and complete the Non Examination Assessment (NEA) part of the course, which counts for 20% of the final grade awarded. This enables the students, who have developed their ability to evaluate a range of different linguistic methods and comparative skills throughout Year 12, to independently complete their coursework on a language topic of their choice. Throughout the remainder of Year 13, time is dedicated to building on students' knowledge of assessment criteria, essay skills and linguistic concepts and issues in preparation for their final exams.
AQA Specification (For Current Year 12, taking exams in Summer 2024)
With Current Year 12, we now follow the AQA ‘A’ specification for English Literature. Two exam papers make up 80% of the final mark. Each exam focuses on separate concepts. Paper One is titled ‘Love Through The Ages’. Students study Othello, and write a response to a question based upon an aspect of love. The second part of this paper requires students to compare two unseen love poems. Lastly, Paper One requires students to compare ideas about love in The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald and an anthology of pre-1900 love poetry. Although not an exhaustive list of aspects of Love through the ages, areas that can usefully be explored include: romantic love of many kinds; love and sex; love and loss; social conventions and taboos; love through the ages according to history and time; love through the ages according to individual lives (young love, maturing love); jealousy and guilt; truth and deception; proximity and distance; marriage; approval and disapproval.
The second paper, Modern Times, takes the end of WW2 as its historical starting point and explores both modern and contemporary literature’s engagement with some of the social, political, personal and literary issues which have helped to shape the latter half of the 20th century and the early decades of the 21st century. We study One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams, and Feminine Gospels by Carol Ann Duffy. Although not an exhaustive list of aspects of WW1 and its aftermath, areas that can usefully be explored include: imperialism and nationalism; recruitment and propaganda; life on the front line; responses on the home front; pacifism; generals and soldiers; slaughter; heroism; peace and memorials; writers in action and writers looking back; the political and social aftermath; different and changing attitudes to the conflict; impact on combatants, non-combatants and subsequent generations as well as its social, political, personal and literary legacies.
Students also complete two pieces of Non-Examined Assessment across the course, forming 20% of their final grade. Students complete a close reading of a prose extract, and a comparative piece on two pieces of drama and poetry.
Students also complete two pieces of Non-Examined Assessment across the course, forming 20% of their final grade. In Texts across time, students write a comparative critical study of two texts on a theme of their choice. Possible themes include, but are not limited to:
- the struggle for identity
- crime and punishment
- minds under stress
- nostalgia and the past
- the Gothic
- satire and dystopia
- war and conflict
- representations of race and ethnicity
- representations of sexuality
- representations of women
- representations of men
- representations of social class and culture.
OCR Specification (For Current Year 13, taking exams in Summer 2023)
With Current Year 13, we are following the OCR specification for English Literature. Two exam papers make up 80% of the final mark that the students can obtain. Each exam focuses on separate concepts – Drama and Poetry pre 1900 asks students questions on their study of Hamlet, Chaucer’s The Merchant’s Tale, and Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Students are asked both an extract that focuses on dramatic significance, and a whole text question that focuses thematically on the whole text. Students are then asked to compare Chaucer and Ibsen’s texts through a choice of questions.
On the second paper, students undertake a comparative and contextual study of Dystopian literature, reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood, 1984 by Orwell and a range of unseen prose extracts in the genre. Students undertake a close analysis of an unseen extract on these paper and are also asked to write about their set texts and wider reading through the lens of Dystopian concepts.
Students also complete two pieces of Non Examined Assessment across the course, forming 20% of their final grade. Students complete a close reading of a prose extract, and a comparative piece on two pieces of drama and poetry.