‘Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body’ – Joseph Addison

‘Fit for Life’ through English

“Change is legitimate and inevitable; for our language is a mighty river, rolling on and changing course, picking up silt and flotsam here and discarding it there, but growing ever wider and richer.”   R. MacNeil

English, as the term for language and literature combined, exposes and explores the beauty of our rich and developed language, culture and heritage from across time and place. To study English is to study people and contexts, both real and imagined, so that we are able to develop a sense of who we are, where we are and how we got here. By reading and writing about challenging issues and literary genres, and how they have impacted the world we live in, we are helped to create and define a sense of self and purpose. Themes such as the power of people, places, conflict, forces of nature etc. encourage students to develop a passion for language, literature and moreover a wholesome desire to learn. As we travel the mighty river of language we grow ever richer.

Skills and Knowledge

Over the course of Key Stage 3, we read a range of texts from different contexts and genres. This gives students both an opportunity to foster a love of literature but also to inform an understanding of how English has changed over time and has impacted on the words we use today. By springboarding from these texts we are able to explore both creative and non-fiction reading and writing where students learn how to confidently and creatively express themselves whilst considering the power of language and exploring how it can be used to manipulate and guide the reader. Key skills in reading, writing and oracy are developed so that students are able to communicate clearly, assuredly and effectively for a range of audiences and purposes.

In Year 7, students study a 20th Century short story by H.G.Wells, a selection of poems from different cultures, persuasive speeches delivered by powerful leaders, ‘The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas’ by John Boynton, as well as being reintroduced to Shakespeare through his play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. These inspirational texts aim to ignite a sense of wonder at the power of the written word, whilst providing students the opportunity to explore different times, people and places. In Year 8, students draw on a range of genres in order to develop their own creative and non-fiction writing. A sample of thrilling Gothic literature from across time is explored to show students how modern day stories and films are influenced by stories from the past. Students will then read Shakespeare’s famous tragedy ‘Romeo and Juliet’ before exploring the language of the news as they write newspaper articles reporting on the events of the story. Poetry about time and place, and the reading of ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck further develop their understanding of the world around them. In Year 9, students will study a selection of powerfully emotive wartime poetry by Wilfred Owen and the thoroughly gripping play ‘Blood Brothers’ by Willy Russell. Students will then explore the theme of ambition through a range of newspaper stories from different times, poetry and extracts from Shakespeare, before ending the year looking at a selection of 19th century short stories.

At Key Stage 4, students work towards 2 GCSE qualifications: English language is the study of fiction, non-fiction and literary non-fiction texts from the 19th century onwards, including the requirement to write creatively and in the style of nonfiction; and English Literature which is the study of a range of texts from across time. Thematically linked texts from different contexts and genres are studied chronologically and in depth. Students are taught to develop their analytical skills through the exploration of language use to engage the reader. Moreover, using the set texts as inspiration, students develop the skills necessary to write in a range of formats and for a range of purposes, both fiction and non-fiction. 

The English literature texts studied at Key Stage 4 are Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’, ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Robert Louis Stevenson and ‘An Inspector Calls’ by J.B. Priestley. Interspersed throughout all of the study of these texts is a range of poetry from across time on the theme of ‘Power and Conflict’: the power of people, places, conflict and forces of nature. In addition to this, students also explore a range of fiction, non-fiction and literary non-fiction from the 19th century onwards in order to develop the necessary skills to approach both the English language GCSE examinations and the world beyond school. The requirement here is to read and understand a number of previously unseen texts, answer reading questions that require the skills of comparison, analysis and evaluation of the use of language and the writers’ perspectives and ideas. Students are also required to demonstrate their own creative and nonfiction writing. 

Communication and Community

What lies at the heart of every living thing is words, information and instruction. The study of English in all its forms is to develop the key skills necessary to communicate clearly, express ideas and convey information in all aspects of life. Communication is vital in the course of the study of English; learners must be open receivers of communication conveyed by the texts they read and, likewise, their own communication must be clear in order to be received with clarity by its audience. Through the exploration of a range of topics, from different times and places, students are encouraged to become socially aware of the community around them, on a local, national and global scale.