Exam board: AQA
Key Stage 3
The aim of our Key Stage 3 curriculum is two-fold: to develop creativity and passion for reading and writing, and to sufficiently challenge students in preparation for the GCSE courses. Each student will have four lessons of English per week.
All Key Stage 3 schemes of work blend Language and Literature skills, and are rooted in a fiction text in order to develop an appreciation of reading. These texts have been chosen to deliver a challenging mix of classic and contemporary plays and novels. They are:
Year 7 – A Monster Calls, Trash and The Merchant of Venice
Year 8 – Of Mice and Men, The Lord of the Flies, Romeo and Juliet
Year 9 – A View from the Bridge, Pigeon English, Macbeth
Each scheme of work is developed by the department’s leadership team and in consultation with the Harris Federation’s English team. The schemes also incorporate:
- Creative writing: a hugely enjoyable part of our curriculum and now a significant part of the English Language GCSE.
- Reading and writing of non-fiction texts (articles, letters, reports) to develop comprehension, analysis and critical thinking: all crucial to the new English Language GCSE.
- Poetry modules embedded at the end of each term, across every year group, in order to develop crucial analysis skills ahead of GCSE.
- Regular Speaking and Listening lessons are included to prepare children for their GCSE Spoken Language Certificate and to nurture the confidence and oracy skills crucial to wider school life and beyond.
Assessment at Key Stage Three
Students will sit two summative assessments each term: one in Language and one in Literature. These are set centrally by the Harris Federation. This allows us to compare our students’ progress across a much wider cohort. Each assessment will be given a ‘most likely grade’ on a 1-9 scale. This is suggestion on what they might get at GCSE if they continue to make the same progress towards Year 11.
Prior to sitting these summative assessments, students will sit formative assessments. This allows teachers to check for any gaps in learning and to then tailor lessons and intervention to address these gaps.
Key Stage 4
Each student will study the AQA English Language and the AQA English Literature courses. These are two separate GCSEs (each comprising two exams) and students will be awarded two separate 1-9 grades.
The courses are much more rigorous than previous English specifications, with an increased focus on deep knowledge of literature texts, analysis of unseen texts and writing skills – all assessed through challenging final exams (coursework is no longer used at GCSE).
Each student will have four lessons of English per week, with the two courses being taught side by side (typically, two lessons each per week).
The Literature course is divided into four sections across two exam papers. We have opted to study the following texts and poems. We have found that students are enthused by this mix of texts, resulting in higher engagement and a greater chance of success.
Literature Paper 1
Shakespeare - Macbeth
19th Century Fiction – A Christmas Carol
Literature Paper 2
Modern play or prose – An Inspector Calls
Poetry – Power and Conflict Poetry (15 poems)
In addition to the Power and Conflict poetry cluster, students must also analyse unseen poems and so this skill is taught throughout Key Stages 3 and 4.
The department has produced a Knowledge Organiser for each section – this is typically an A3 sheet with all key information (quotations, plot, context etc) for each text. Students must use these in lesson, for homework and during revision.
Texts will be read in lesson although students are encouraged to pre-read and revisit texts as much as possible. Having their own copy of the text to annotate and to use for revision will be invaluable (details below).
- A Christmas Carol (Scholastic Classics) – approx. £4.99 on Amazon
- An Inspector Calls and Other Plays (Penguin Modern Classics) – approx. £6.45 on Amazon
- Macbeth CGP The Complete Play - approx. £5.50 on Amazon
(Power and Conflict Poetry Anthologies will be provided for students)
Further details on the English Literature course can be found at:
As in Literature, students will sit two exams for their Language qualification.
Language Paper 1 – Explorations in creative reading and writing
Section A: Reading and analysis of unseen 20th Century fiction
Section B: Creative Writing
Language Paper 2 – Writers’ viewpoints and perspectives
Section A: Reading and analysis of two non-fiction texts
Section B: Non-fiction writing (article, letter, leaflet etc)
These core reading and writing skills will be taught alongside, and often as part of, the Literature course. Students can further develop their English Language skills through regular reading of fiction and non-fiction (quality newspaper, magazine and website articles).
Students will also be provided with Knowledge Organisers for the two Language courses. These are ‘skills-based’ and should be used as a guide on how to approach the exam papers.
Further details on the English Language course can be found at:
Assessment and Intervention at Key Stage 4
In Year 10, students will sit regular formative assessments allowing teachers to track progress and identify gaps in skills or knowledge. Students will then sit a summative assessment at the end of each term. These are set by the Harris Federation and allow us to award students an accurate 1-9 grade based on data from across the whole of the federation.
For those students with the most significant progress gaps, after-school intervention sessions will be delivered in order to help them catch up.
In Year 11, students will sit regular mock exams allowing us to gain accurate data on student progress. These will take place in October/November and in February/March. These will be in the sports hall, allowing students to adjust to the pressures of a formal exam.
Students with progress gaps will attend after-school intervention. Most of Year 11 will attend these sessions at some point in the year, allowing learning gaps to be quickly addressed.
Useful links for Key Stage 4
This is a great quiz website and app where we set quick assessments to assist students with revision. Please encourage your child to download the app and use it regularly. Our accounts are ‘HAGREnglish’ and ‘tigermcmillan’.
Website for Language and Literature:
Great websites for Literature revision: