KS3 Curriculum

Our English curriculum is designed around the explicit teaching of conceptual knowledge students need in order to master the discipline. In Year 7, all pupils read the classic Greek myths, Chaucer and a nineteenth century novel. By the end of KS4, pupils will have studied four Shakespeare plays in-depth and a selection of classic texts, seminal world literature, poems and plays. In English, pupils study the foundations of literature, composition, linguistics and rhetoric to deepen their understanding of more complex texts and to support their own creative, transactional and analytical writing. Below are the five broad areas of study that underpin our curriculum from year 7 - 13.

Reading for Meaning – Texts become increasingly more complex but from year 7 onwards students are reading about and examining challenging universal themes, events and ideas. Poetry and non-fiction are woven through each unit so that students are regularly encountering language in all its forms; from the informative and rhetorical to the concentrated and distilled. Debates around gender, power, politics, kingship, theocracy, religion, class, evil, ambition, persecution, alienation, the monstrous, honour and civilisation are central to our study of our chosen texts. Students have the opportunity to debate how our texts address arguments that are still ongoing e.g., technology and artificial intelligence, freedom of speech and the individualist vs the collectivist debate.

Authorial Methods – From year 7 we are building up a repertoire of literary methods used by writers so students can see how meaning is created. This allows them to analyse the writer’s craft but also become proficient writers themselves. E.g. Creative writing begins with alternative/marginalised viewpoints of ‘familiar’ stories and experimenting with tenses used for effect. Students move on to imitating crafted, established forms of writing in the sonnet and soliloquy, progressing into figurative methods using symbol and foil characters through year 8, eventually culminating into experimenting with more complex narrative viewpoints and perspectives in year 9 ready for GCSE. By the time students study ‘A’ Level English they will have mastered a complete compendium of the techniques by which writers shape meaning.

Composition – Writing begins with the imitation of established forms and styles, moving into experimentation, practise and eventual mastery of different types of writing through the study of its different components. For example, analytical writing begins with exploring character development and arcs, moving into thematic concerns, eventually marrying the two in year 9 with a consideration of alternative viewpoints added ready for GCSE and ‘A’ level. We study rhetoric through Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ and consider how the foundations laid down by Aristotle and Cicero are still part of our greatest contemporary speeches.

Context - Key periods and movements are studied so that students can understand and make connections between what they are learning more easily. How a text may have been shaped by external social, political and historical forces is a consideration of all texts studied. We study aspects of ancient Greece, the Renaissance, the Romantic movement, the Victorian period, American Civil War, The Harlem Renaissance, Post-War and Post-Colonial periods. This focus on context allows students to gradually build knowledge and cultural capital so that they are able to access not only the texts they are reading; but also, the historicist approaches to English study at GCSE and ‘A’ Level. Context is considered in growing depth culminating in a deeper exploration of how political and social forces may have shaped Shakespeare’s writing in year 9.

Grammar and Vocab – Being proficient in the mechanics of language not only helps students become better writers but also helps students to understand what they have read. A limited vocabulary can be a barrier to comprehension and the articulation of complex ideas, so we place vocabulary and etymology at the heart of learning in English. Grammar drills, common errors and misconceptions are revisited continually until they become automatic and overlearned.