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KS 3

About the course

The curriculum offered at Key Stage 3 (Year 7+8) aims to develop students’ language and literacy skills with a focus on a variety of texts. In preparation for KS4, students will be exposed to a range of classic British texts in addition to a range contemporary novels, plays, poems and short stories.

What they will learn

Students will study a variety of texts, both fiction and non-fiction. In both Year 7 and 8, groups are taught in streamed sets. Year 7 will study poetry from other cultures and traditions, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, in addition to a range of short stories and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet at the end of the academic year. Beyond fiction texts, a great deal of emphasis is put on extending students’ writing ability through non-fiction study across a range of materials including autobiographies, articles and essays.

In Year 8 students will study the novel ‘Private Peaceful’ and a range of war poetry. They will also study Sherlock Holmes and Richard III well as a range of non-fiction texts across the year.

Throughout Key Stage 3 emphasis is placed on the students’ ability to extend their reading and writing ability across a range of forms and styles. To encourage creativity and engagement, presenting and debating are of paramount importance in the classroom in addition to nurturing a love of reading.

Extracurricular activities include a debating club, creative writing club, trips to the Imperial War Museum, Bunhill Cemetery and regular theatre trips and visits from touring theatre professionals where possible.

How it will be assessed

Each unit is assessed through an end of unit assessment using the new GCSE criteria where possible with grading from 1-9. This is to enable an easier transition from KS3 to KS4 in English, and expose students to the demands of skills required at GCSE.


KS 4

About the course

Key texts include: ‘Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare; ‘The Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde’ by Robert Louis Stevenson; ‘DNA’ by Dennis Kelly and a range of poetry from classic and contemporary British writers.

From September 2015:
• Students will be graded from 9-1 not A*-C
• The curriculum is now 100% exam based – there is no coursework component
• Every student will sit the same paper – there are no separate foundation and higher tiers
• Students cannot take text books into the exam with them
• Students will have two language exams at the end of the two year course
• Students will have two literature exams at the end of the two year course

What they will learn
Students will learn to read, understand, critique and compare a challenging range of fiction and non-fiction texts from the 19th-21st century. These skills will be transferable and applied to their own writing for a range of genres, audiences and purposes in their English Language exam. It is essential that all KS4 students develop their understanding of classic literature in order to prepare themselves for the demands of the new course.

How it will be assessed
A total of four units will be assessed – 2 language units (1 GCSE) + 2 literature units (1 GCSE)
External examination: 100%

Exam board: AQA

Exam outlines

Language Paper 1: 1hr 30mins (50%)

  • Reading Section: Unseen fiction extract –  analysis and evaluation of language, structure, form and author intention
  • Writing Section: Creating an engaging and detailed descriptive or narrative piece of wrting

Language Paper 2: 1hr 30mins (50%)

  • Reading Section: Comparing perspectives in non- fiction extracts –  analysis and comparison of language, structure and author perspective
  • Writing Section: Creating a non fiction text (speech, letter or article)

Literature Paper 1: 1hr 45mins (40%) Shakespeare and 19th Century texts

  • Macbeth: Extract and whole text exploration of language, structure and form (30 marks)
  • Jekyll and Hyde or A Christmas Carol: Extract and whole text exploration of language, structure and form (30 marks)

Literature Paper 2: 2hrs 15mins (40%) Modern plays, poetry and prose

  • DNA:  Whole text exploration of language, structure and form (30 marks)
  • Conflict and Power Poetry:  Comparison of language, structure and form across two poems (30 marks)
  • Unseen Poetry : Analysis of meaning, language, structure and form of an unseen poem
  • Unseen Poetry Comparison : Comparison of language, structure and form of two unseen poems


KS 5
About the course

A-level English Literature broadens horizons by opening up a world of different cultures and experiences. Students read a broad range of texts, from Shakespeare to present day. Away from the set texts, the course requires them to read widely and independently throughout the two years, which means a love of reading is essential to success at this A-level. Literature develops your insight and empathy, and is invaluable in understanding the world and its complex relationships. The course also develops skills in writing critical, academic essays, which are essential for success in any discipline in higher education.

What they will learn

In Year 12 students study a variety of texts in the two genres of crime and tragedy. Genres are interesting because they set parameters for writers but contemporary genre writing has many elements of ‘cross-over’ – for example, a lot of crime writing has elements of the Gothic, particularly in the use of dark and foreboding settings.

We begin the course with Crime. Books in this genre are usually fast paced and ‘page-turning’ and are a fun start to the A level. From day one we encourage students to read around the subject using our Ks5 library, which is well stocked. In this first genre, for example, we have everything from classic crime novels by Agatha Christie to more contemporary works such as Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. In class, we consider crime from several different perspectives. For example – what is the difference between moral and legal crime? How far is crime determined by place and time? And what about crimes committed by the State (for example in the dystopian novel 1984)?

Our second genre is tragedy and we study both contemporary work and also two Shakespeare plays. Again, we encourage students to read around. In class, we consider Aristotle’s definition of the tragic hero and then look at the genre has evolved to include fate and the notion of an unavoidable destiny. We look at what characteristics bring a great person down and, exploring the idea of the fatal flaw, examine how writers craft work to evoke pity in us for the tragic hero no matter how terrible the nature of the crime. Students learn to distinguish between what is commonly referred to as ‘tragic’ and ‘a tragedy’ and the literary concepts going by the same name.

In Year 13 we look at two literary theories and apply them to texts the students have chosen for themselves, which could be novels, poems or dramas and from any selected era. We take Marxist literary theory and Feminist literary theory and write two pieces of coursework – each about 1500 words long. This newly independent study is a highly enjoyable end to the period of study before we move into revision for the summer exams. It is also an excellent preparation for university.

How it will be assessed

80% examination, 20% coursework

Exam board

AQA English Literature Spec B.

Future Career Paths in subject
In terms of university, many A-level English Literature students go on to study for degrees in History, Politics and Sociology, Journalism, Philosophy and, of course, English.

English forms part of many combined-subject higher education courses and can lead to a wide range of careers for example in the arts, journalism and the media, as well as business, the law and administration.

Head of Department
Mr Adams


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