English and Media

Key Stage 3 (Years 7, 8, 9) 1


In Years 7, 8 and 9, pupils explore a wide range of engaging, stimulating and challenging fiction and non-fiction texts across the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, with the purpose of developing strong reading, writing and speaking and listening skills. Our approach to the subject is underpinned by our belief in the power of language and stories to amaze, inspire and make us wonder; to inform and challenge us, making us think, question and reconsider; and to help us relate, empathise, understand, emote and feel. Our aim is for the students we teach to be moved by the power of language and stories in what they read, and to harness this power in what they write.


Our Key Stage 3 curriculum is structured to be continuous and cumulative, so that skills and key concepts are powerfully built on and re-visited over time with increasing depth, independence and sophistication in a spiral curriculum. With the power of language and stories as our foundation, each unit of work across the three years falls into one of the thematic/ genre categories below:

  • Narrative and story-telling
  • Literary heritage
  • Exploring society
  • Political fiction and non-fiction
  • Tragedy

In Year 7, the curriculum is focused on fiction, creative writing and students immersing themselves in our literary heritage. Exploration of the Gothic genre runs through three of the units of work, allowing students to build up key literary concepts that will inform their reading of texts right through to GCSE and beyond. Early on, we introduce students to an analytical reading tool which they will use throughout their time studying English – the use of Point-Evidence-Explain-Zoom in analysis (P-E-E+) to structure their interpretations of a text and their exploration of how a writer has crafted it for effect.

In Year 8, the curriculum shifts focus to more non-fiction, and to a wider variety of texts including poetry, plays, novels and literary non-fiction. The level of challenge is increased by reading overtly political fiction like Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’, fiction that has shaped our understanding of human nature like Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ and exploring how different forms of poetry over time, place and cultures work to impact the reader.

We treat Year 9 as pre-GCSE year, highlighting and developing all the skills and concepts they will need to succeed in English Language and English Literature at the end of Year 11. This culminates in all Year 9 students sitting an age-appropriate version of the GCSE English Language exam in May. This provides a real sense of students progressing along their learning journey and actively working on targets to achieve their best over time. The curriculum has been designed to create strong cohesion between the texts studied in Years 7 and 8 and those studied in Year 9, allowing students to powerfully build on prior knowledge as they interpret and assimilate the new. We end Year 9 with an introduction to the Shakespeare play that will be studied for their English Literature GCSE – ‘Romeo and Juliet’, creating a smooth gateway between Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4.

Every unit of work is designed to stretch and challenge each and every student we teach. However, we also offer a range of additional enrichment opportunities in the department:

  • Readathon
  • Book club
  • Creative writing club
  • Year 7 ‘Gothic writers’ after-school enrichment club in term 6
  • Paper Tigers creative writing anthology – a collaboration with the Art Department

English table


Formative assessment

Continuous formative assessment of students’ work through the school year forms the cornerstone of how we as a department help students to make their best progress. In Year 7, students are issued with a ‘best’ Feedback, Assessment and Progress Book, which is where our main summative marking and formative feedback is given. This book is also where students actively reflect on and respond to targets and feedback as they re-visit and improve skills in the spiral curriculum – and so it is a very powerful visual way of tracking your child’s learning journey from Year 7 all the way to the end of Year 9.  

The design of our assessments:

  • Ensures that students know the targets they are working on from previous feedback, encouraging them to actively work on these personal targets in each new assessed piece.
  • Develops independence and ownership of learning through self-assessment by students highlighting their own work to demonstrate where particular skills and targets have been met.
  • Flags up in marking whether, or to what extent, targets have been achieved, so that progress is measured through targets being met, re-set, or adjusted.
  • Flags up a student’s current areas of strength and areas for improvement through a number of methods, including verbal feedback, whole-class-feedback, self and peer assessment and written feedback for specific pieces of work.
  • Gives students opportunities to respond to marking and practise targets being set using our ‘purple pens of progress’: re-writing and improving paragraphs/ sections or work, or applying the targets in a different context for mastery of those skills.
  • Makes feedback, assessment and progress part of a shared dialogue between parents, teachers and students by sending the ‘best’ books home about once a term for parents to read, comment on and sign, so that every student is fully supported to reflect on their progress.

As a result of the way the ‘best’ book is used, your child’s class book is used more as a drafting book for collating ideas and practising skills in whole-class contexts, with teacher support and guidance. This work is checked through whole-class feedback of answers, teacher circulation and checking of work and verbal feedback during lessons. While these class exercise books may be marked at key moments as deemed appropriate by the class teacher, as a department our policy is that the ‘best’ Feedback, Assessment and Progress book is the place where our core Key Stage 3 feedback happens.


The two mid and end-of-year summative assessments reported on your child’s progress reports follow the design detailed above, and, in addition, are ALSO marked using abridged GCSE mark schemes, so that we can generate a percentage in line with the school’s assessment policy. The percentage will fluctuate depending on whether reading or writing skills are being tested, and so percentages from one assessment point to the next are not directly comparable. There is also the possibility of a dip as we introduce new English skills, or as we introduce increasing levels of student independence in the assessments. We would emphasise, therefore, that engaging with your child and teacher through the ‘best’ Feedback, Assessment and Progress book is the most fruitful way to facilitate the important joint discussion about how your child is progressing in English. Please do not hesitate to contact your child’s class teacher or the Head of Department if you require any further clarification on assessment in English or how your child is progressing.

Key Stage 4 (Years 10, 11)


English Language and English Literature are compulsory subjects at Key Stage 4, and, as we believe that literature texts can be enjoyed and appreciated by all students, our aim is to enter every student for two GCSEs. You will be aware that there has been significant national curriculum change in English over the past three years. This means that there are no longer any tiers of entry, there is no longer any coursework or controlled assessment in the subject at KS4, and all assessment is done by four examinations at the end of Year 11.


In Years 10 and 11, students are working towards the following qualifications:

  • English Language (GCSE)

Specification: AQA GCSE in English Language (8700)

  • English Literature (GCSE)

Specification: AQA GCSE in English Literature (8702)

Full details in KS4 brochure

Throughout the course, we integrate English Language and English Literature to provide a richer experience where the skills of one qualification can be used to enrich work in the other.

In Year 10, we cover:

  • English Literature Paper 1. 19th century novel: ‘The Strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’
  • English Language Paper 1. Creative writing
  • English Literature Paper 2. Modern play: ‘DNA’
  • English Language Paper 2. Writers’ viewpoints and perspectives in non-fiction texts
  • English Literature Paper 2. Poetry: Power and Conflict cluster (Poppies, Exposure, Bayonet Charge, My Last Duchess, London, Checking out Me History, The Emigree, The charge of the light brigade)

In Year 11, we cover:

  • English Literature Paper 2. Poetry: power and conflict cluster (Kamikaze, War Photographer, Remains, Ozymandias, Storm on the Island, Prelude, Tissue) and unseen poetry
  • English Language Paper 1. Explorations in creative reading and writing
  • English Literature Paper 1. Shakespeare: ‘Romeo and Juliet’
  • Revision – interleaved throughout the year.

Key Stage 5 (Sixth Form)

We enter students for the A level in English Literature and/or Media Studies at the end of Year 13.

  • English Literature

Examination board: AQA (B)

  • Media Studies

Examination board: Eduqas

Other opportunities at KS5 in English

  • King Prize for Creative Writing
  • Reading Buddy Scheme – Citizenship Award
  • English classroom support scheme  - Citizenship Award
  • Author visits
  • Sixth Form Book Club
  • Oxford University English Days
  • Theatre trips and visits organised to support the key texts throughout the two years.

Full details in Sixth Form brochure

Departmental Team

Miss S Marcus (Head of Department)
Mrs N Banks (Second in Department and Key Stage 4 co-ordinator)