Literature and Language are taught concurrently to students in the lower school. At the end of Year 11, students sit two GCSEs with the AQA exam board: English Language and English Literature. In College VI, students follow a two-year A-level that works towards the AQA qualification English Literature A.
A thematic approach is taken to English in every key stage so that students become familiar with challenging literature in a way that allows them to simultaneously develop their reading and writing skills, broaden their cultural appreciation, hone their faculty for critical engagement with language and become fluent at expressing themselves clearly and convincingly.
English at KS3
Autumn Term – Using a primary novel as the key source, students explore important social and literary themes. They will learn to understand texts within their cultural contexts and begin to understand how to structure analytical and interpretative responses. There is an emphasis on their own ability to manipulate vocabulary and linguistic methods in their own writing to create tone or communicate theme.
Year 7 – Gothic Ghouls and Monsters (“Frankenstein: A play” by Philip Pulman)
Year 8 – Difference and Diversity (“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon)
Year 9 – Can You Share a Dream? (“Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck)
Spring Term – With a focus on Shakespeare, students will be asked to persevere with the challenges presented by typical examples of literature from the English literary tradition but will also look at other non-fiction texts that reveal how the themes of these great plays resonates in our own time. This will allow students to employ and develop many core reading and writing skills.
Year 7 – The Power of Redemption (“The Tempest”)
Year 8 – Blood, Guts and Gore (“Macbeth”)
Year 9 – What Makes a Man? (“The Merchant of Venice”)
Summer Term – A broader approach is taken to allow teachers the opportunity to develop core skills particular to their groups. A broad selection of texts is used to achieve this, with a focus on poetry (expect for Year 9 who explore a novel to consolidate reading skills in preparation for GCSE).
Year 7 – Travelling the Globe (poetry from other cultures and travel writing)
Year 8 – Our English Heritage (anthology of poetry and short fiction that traces the development of English Literature)
Year 9 – Clashes and Collisions (“Lord of the Flies”)
English at KS4
Year 10 (September to February) – Our World in Crisis (social conflict, displacement, power, inequality)
Students will be introduced to all the skills they will be expected to demonstrate in the GCSE public examinations. They will also be expected to complete the speaking component of their qualification: a prepared speech on a topic of their choice. Students will complete studying one of the three key texts: “An Inspector Calls”. They will also be introduced to the “GCSE Poetry Anthology: Power and Conflict” from which they will study five of the required works.
Year 10 (March to July) – The Human Heart (love, family, home, loss)
Students will improve on all the key reading and writing skills necessary to succeed in the Year 10 pre-public examinations (PPE) held at the end of the academic year where they will sit a full mock of both of the English Language exams and the second of the English Literature exams. The key text taught in this period will be Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and another five poems from the anthology will be studied.
Year 11 (September to February) – Our Shadow Side (corruption, good vs evil, morality, guilt, violence)
With an emphasis on more challenging content, students will need to master the full range of skills they will be expected to demonstrate in their final exams. At key moments in the school calendar, they will have the opportunity to complete mock exams. They will study the last five poems in their anthology and either Stevenson’s “Jekyll and Hyde” or Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”.
Year 11 (March to May) – Revision
Reacting to student outcomes in the mock exams, teachers will focus on the key skills and areas of knowledge that will help students fulfil their potential in the public examinations.
English at KS5
A rich and diverse range of literature offers the prospect of exploring a variety of novels, poetry and plays written from the 16th Century to the present day – two of which students are free to choose for themselves. English Literature in the sixth form builds on the foundations of the curriculum in the lower school and aims to develop a range of key skills: perceptive analysis of the way in which writers craft texts; fluent communication of personal insights; adept assimilation and synthesis of ideas from a wide range of sources, deep critical thinking.
Students sit two papers at the end of their final year; the theme of each is examined through three set texts:
Love Through the Ages – “The Great Gatsby”, Anthology of pre-1900 poetry, “Othello”
Texts in Modern Times – “The Handmaid’s Tale”, “Skirrid Hill”, “A Streetcar Named Desire”
Students must also submit a 2500-word essay in their first year where they compare two texts of their choice which they have studied independently.
Both papers also ask students to analyse previously unseen prose and poetry.