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Key Stage 3

KS3 Syllabus at a Glance

  • In all three KS3 years, students need to study a full range of subjects including: prose study, poetry, Shakespeare, modern drama, non-fiction, media and writing skills.  See below for more details.
  • All KS3 teaching needs to reflect the NC Assessment Focuses and the more specific skills being tested in the school’s end of year exam (see relevant document).
  • All formal assessment to be delivered through the National Curriculum framework, marked using National Curriculum Levels and Sub-Levels.
  • Teaching of KS3 classes, especially year 9, should also prepare pupils for the demands of the iGCSE course, for example, empathy writing, summary writing, etc. (see iGCSE specification)


Year 7

1) Where Do Stories Come From?

This unit looks at the origins of storytelling, with a specific focus on stories from other cultures. Throughout the module, pupils will learn about the oral traditions of storytelling, narrative conventions, genre conventions (and the subversion of such conventions).  Suggested texts/resources: Greek Myth, fairy tales, creation myths & parables, ballads, oral tradition, fable, ‘1001 Arabian Nights’, and the films, ‘Coraline’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

2) Who am I?

This unit focuses on autobiographical and biographical writing.  The module explores the conventions of these forms and how they often blur the boundary between fiction and non-fiction. The key skills of writing to inform/explain are covered as well as a revision of narrative conventions (in the form of autobiographical/biographical anecdotes). Suggested texts/resources:

‘Boy’, ‘Chinese Cinderella’, ‘My Left Foot’, a comparison of autobiographies and diaries (e.g. extracts from Anne Frank), comparing autobiography with contemporary internet forms such as Social Networking, Blogging and Vlogging.

3) Stand Up For Shakespeare

An introduction to Shakespeare, drawing on lots of active approaches to study (using the RSC package).  The module includes a history of The Globe theatre, Elizabethan drama and key extracts from a variety of plays.  Suggested texts/resources: ‘Stand Up for Shakespeare’ (RSC package), ‘Inside the Globe Theatre’ resources, selected extracts.

4) Superheroes Project or Design a New Product

A module developing media and film literacy, where pupils create their own, new superhero, influenced by existing Marvel characters.  The course covers a range of areas including: marketing, pitching, presenting, genre and parody/pastiche, as well as the key skills of writing to persuade and writing to explain.  Alternatively, pupils will study a media unit about designing and marketing a new product (for example, a new chocolate bar, perfume or time-saving gadget). This module covers the same skills but has more of a focus on advertising. Suggested texts/resources: ‘Thor’, ‘Spiderman’, ‘X-Men’ and the ‘Film Education’ website.

5) Freedom and Captivity

A thematic study, drawing on real and fictional struggles for personal and social freedom. The module allows pupils to study a range of diverse contextual issues, ranging from the holocaust to contemporary human rights issues. By comparing prose fiction and non-fiction texts, pupils will confront some of the fundamental struggles affecting mankind throughout the centuries, exploring how writers portray the personal, social, moral and philosophical themes.     

Suggested texts/resources: ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’, ‘Holes’, non-fiction articles (‘Prison Reform’ etc.), looking at literature of an organisation, such as Amnesty International, modern day extracts like ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, film education resources for ‘Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’, transcripts of holocaust survivors, debates surrounding crime and punishment.

6) Action and Adventure

An exciting module of drama and film, with a focus on action and adventure. Pupils will be introduced to a range of techniques for analysing the visual arts, including stagecraft, dramatic techniques and analysis of the moving image. They will be introduced to 19th century classics and their modern equivalents with a view to thinking about how texts stand the test of time or are updated for modern audiences.

Suggested texts/resources: ‘The Three Musketeers’ (play), ‘The Count of Monte Christo’ (abridged and film), ‘Man in the Iron Mask’ (abridged and film), ‘Bridge to Terabithia’ (novel and film).

7) The Canterbury Tales

A study of Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘The Canterbury Tales’, featuring an etymological study of the English language.  This very active and engaging module draws on elements of drama, poetry, comedy, narrative structure and an appreciation of the history and richness of language.   Students will learn about life in the Middle Ages and how the area in which they live was so important, both culturally and religiously.

Suggested texts/resources:  Play version of the tales, extracts from the tales, trip to ‘Canterbury Tales’


Year 8

1) Other Worlds (19th Century fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, belief)

A module of prose fiction study, focusing on the popular genres of sci-fi and fantasy. Students will study some of the key genre conventions which allow writers to create fantastic yet highly believable worlds and scenarios.  As well as analysing some of the genre classics, pupils will be inspired to create their own fantasy/sci-fi worlds and stories, drawing on their understanding of the genre.   

Suggested texts/resources: ‘The Time Machine’, ‘The Lost World’ (extracts and TV adaptation), ‘Kensuke’s Kingdom’, ‘Elsewhere’

2) Murder Mystery

In this multi-media unit, pupils will study a range of texts on the topic of crime.  From TV and film clips to extracts from Sherlock Holmes, pupils will study the wide range of techniques used by writers to create a sense of mystery and intrigue. In particular, pupils will be studying the ways readers and viewers can be ‘guided’ by narrative structure, applying these techniques to their own creative fiction.

Suggested texts/resources: Detective fiction, genre, creative writing, the game ‘Whodunnit?’, narrative writing, plotting.  Suggested texts/resources: Sherlock Holmes stories and TV versions, Agatha Christie plays/graphic novels, ‘Murder at the Cathedral’, ‘Penny Dreadfuls’.

3) Vice and Villainy

A study of selected texts from the ‘golden age’ of the English novel, with a particular focus on Charles Dickens. The module presents Victorian fiction through a combination of traditional analysis of 19th century texts, alongside more contemporary adaptations, including the popular graphic novel format.

Suggested texts/resources: ‘Oliver Twist’ (graphic novel or abridged version or Polanski film), extracts from other 19th century novels.

4) Horror/ghost stories

A module of poetry analysis through the thematic study of ghosts and horror, drawing on elements of non-fiction and modern drama. Pupils will a read a range of spooky poems, learning how poets create an eerie sense of mystery and suspense. The module aims to foster a love of language, particularly the aural effects created through poetry.   Suggested texts/resources: ‘The Ancient Mariner’, ‘Haunted Houses’, ‘The Listeners’, ‘The Apparition’, ‘Ghost House’, ‘Black Harvest’, local ghost stories.

5) Survival – the Island Project

This module is all about creativity and group work.  Pupils will be given project guidelines but, essentially, will have the freedom to design and create a range of texts and materials for a project on survival.  To help inspire and catalyse the pupils’ work, extracts from ‘survival’ literature texts will also be studied.

Suggested texts/resources: ‘The Hunger Games’, ‘Lord of the Flies’, ‘Robinson Crusoe’, extracts from ‘The Tempest’

6) Shakespeare

Building on the Year 7 introduction to Shakespeare module, Year 8 pupils will have the chance to study one of Shakespeare’s plays in more depth, analysing plot, character, imagery and theme.  Like the Year 7 module, the focus is on an active study of the text, with lots of opportunities for drama and group work (using the RSC package). 

Suggested texts/resources: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, ‘Richard III’, ‘Henry IV’


Year 9

1) Satire

A fascinating study of one of England’s finest traditions, drawing on a range of extracts from TV, film and print.  The module will include the study of techniques such as pastiche, parody, rhetoric and comedy.  The module will also provide pupils with an opportunity to master the skills of building an argument, drawing on persuasive writing and debating techniques.

Suggested texts/resources: ‘A Modest Proposal’, ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, ‘1984’, ‘The Guardians’, contemporary satirists like Chris Morris, Armando Iannucci and Charlie Brooker, satirical cartoons like ‘The Simpsons’.

2) The Gothic

An artistic and philosophical study of all things ‘Gothic’: the historical and etymological background, gothic architecture, art and music and, of course, gothic literature.  The module allows pupils to study a wide array of texts and periods, including extracts from the novel, ‘Frankenstein’ to more gothic such as the contemporary films of Tim Burton, ‘The Woman in Black’ (Susan Hill) and ‘I Am Legend’.   

Suggested texts/resources: still images of gothic architecture and gothic art, extracts from ‘Frankenstein’, ‘The Castle of Otranto’, ‘Dracula’, extracts from Tim Burton films, ‘The Woman in Black’, ‘I Am Legend’.                                                  

3) Genre Fiction

A close study of either: science fiction, detective fiction or war literature, looking closely at the key conventions (and subversions) of the genre. The module is designed to inspire independent reading and a life-long love of reading.  Pupils will also study a range of literary techniques in preparation for the demands of GCSE Literature.  Suggested texts/resources (Sci-fi or detective fiction): Bradbury, Wyndham, ‘Flowers for Algernon’, ‘First Ladies Detective Agency’, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time’, ‘The Big Sleep’, ‘Avatar’ (film education site), Casino Royale (film), Stand By Me (film). Suggested texts/resources (War): extracts from ‘Henry V’, ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’, a selection of WWI poetry.

4) Narrative Verse

A module of poetry analysis, where pupils will study some of the greatest narrative poems in the English language. The course is designed to build on the poetry modules taught in Years 7 and 8, and ensure the pupils have the confidence and techniques required for next year’s GCSE course.  Throughout the unit, pupils will have opportunities for creative writing, drawing on the techniques of poets such as Browning and Keats.  Suggested texts/resources: ‘My Last Duchess’, ‘Porphyria’s Lover’, ‘Isabella Pot of Basil’, ‘The Laboratory’, the Pre-Raphaelites, painting, etc.

5) Shakespeare

A module of Shakespeare study, allowing the pupils the chance to explore another of Shakespeare’s classics.  The module is designed to be an active study of Shakespeare’s language and stagecraft, reinforcing the Year 9 modules on verse and genre (using the RSC package).  Suggested texts/resources: ‘Macbeth/Merchant of Venice/Romeo and Juliet.

6) The Representation of People and Place

A module of fiction and non-fiction, which aims to develop media and film/modern drama literacy. Through a thematic focus of ‘people’ and ‘place’, pupils will develop their understanding of staging, filming and editing techniques, drawing links with literary concepts like symbolism, motif and pathetic fallacy.   Suggested texts/resources: ‘The Crucible’ (Salam, identity), Persepolis’ – comic or film –(Iran, Islam), ‘Slumdog Millionaire (India), ‘Of Mice and Men’ – film (California), ‘Amelie’ (Paris), all resources on Film Education site), ‘The Outsiders’, travel writing.