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English KS3 Curriculum

Curriculum Intent 

English is a special subject which occupies a privileged place in the curriculum because of its unique nature. Not only are young people taught the essential skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening, they also learn about how to explore and interpret great works of literature in English from this country and across the world; to see things from other points of view; to question and critique viewpoints and perspectives; to learn how history shapes texts and how texts shape history; and to develop their own voices and modes of expression. This has never been more important or more relevant to young people’s lives.

The special nature of the subject places a great burden of responsibility on English teachers and the English department and it is our constant desire to provide the best experience of English to all of our young people through high quality teaching, a challenging, exciting and relevant curriculum and a wide range of enjoyable and stimulating extra-curricular opportunities. These aims are supportive of the Five Goals of Sacred Heart and the philosophy and practices of High Performance Learning.


From Y7 to Y13, we build and develop the core knowledge, skills and attitudes which allow all students not only to achieve their potential in GCSE and A Level exams, but also to develop their own voice, build their confidence and spark the fires of enthusiasm and engagement which will inspire a lifetime of reading. These are:

  • How to write increasingly sophisticated, confident and accurate texts for a range of purposes including critical essays
  • How to read, analyse, interpret and critique an increasingly-challenging and wide range of high quality novels, plays, poems and non-fiction texts, understanding the significance of contexts and other interpretations
  • How to speak and listen with increasing confidence, clarity and sophistication for a variety of situations and purposes.
Core Skills – Literacy

Literacy is taught explicitly in English lessons and is also developed through online learning. Pupils in Y7 and Y8 are expected to complete vocabulary and grammar tasks on the Bedrock Learning platform. This platform is also used for literacy intervention at KS3 and KS4.

Core Skills – Critical Thinking

Pupils in Y7 and Y8 follow the Let’s Think in English critical thinking programme of lessons to develop critical analysis skills and ask critical questions about texts. These lessons are based on developing responses to a text through discussion, listening, responding and developing a critical viewpoint.

Core Skills – Reading for Pleasure

All pupils in KS3 have fortnightly reading lessons where they are encouraged to read for pleasure as part of an increasingly-challenging programme of reading called Reading Passports. Pupils’ reading for pleasure is a very important part of our ethos and various events take place throughout the year to support engagement with reading and encouraging an independent love of literature. The school has an excellent library and students are encouraged to visit and take books out regularly. At KS3 and KS5 all form groups read together as part of the form group weekly routine.

Extra-Curricular Opportunities

The English department ensures that every year group is catered for with a range of extra-curricular opportunities accessible by all. These include theatre trips, residentials in KS5, public speaking training in Y10, debating clubs, reading groups and creative writing clubs.

Themes (knowledge & understanding)


  • Pupils are taught to develop their understanding of fiction and non-fiction texts from an increasing range of complexity and from a variety of times, backgrounds and cultures.
  • Pupils are taught a range of high-quality fiction, non-fiction, drama and poetry texts and will learn how to make connections between these texts, looking at how different writers have explored and presented similar themes and ideas


  • Pupils are taught to improve the quality and range of their writing, looking at the use of language and vocabulary, sentence structure, paragraphing and whole text structure.
  • Pupils are taught the building blocks of language and grammar, using the appropriate terminology.


  • Pupils understand the techniques that effective speakers use to engage their audiences, structure their speech and make effective points, for a range of different purposes.


  • Pupils are taught to apply an increasingly complex range of skills from basic understanding of texts, through interpretation, close reading and analysis to comparison and contextual evaluation.
  • Pupils are taught to understand and analyse writers’ use of language, form and structure and to apply appropriate critical concepts and terminology to the analysis of texts from different genres.


  • Pupils are taught to develop their writing through a focus on word, sentence and text level skills for a range of writing purposes including formal essays, argumentative speeches, short stories, poems, newspaper articles and diary entries.


  • Pupils are taught to develop their skills of public speaking in a range of contexts including formal presentations, debates and speeches.

Modules Taught

Year 7
Year 8
Year 9

Novel Study
The Giver by Lois Lowry

Poetry Study
Phenomenal Female Poets

Drama Study
The Tempest William Shakespeare

Speaking and Listening
Formal Debating

Short Stories and Creative Writing


Novel Study
The Outsiders by SE Hinton or Animal Farm by George Orwell

Poetry Study
Romantic and Victorian Poetry

Drama Study
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Speaking and Listening
Formal Debating

Short Stories and Creative Writing




Novel Study
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Gothic literature creative writing

Drama Study
Blood Brothers by Willy Russell

Poetry Study
Poetry of WW1

Speaking and Listening
Formal Debating


  • Ongoing assessment is carried out by teachers in pupils’ books
  • Pupils carry out a range of self and peer-assessed tasks
  • Pupils sit formal exams in November and May
  • Pupils undertake one formal written assessment each half-term in either reading or writing
  • Pupils are also assessed in their debating skills during the course of the year

Stretch & Challenge

  • Pupils carry out an independent reading project called the reading passport. This is based on a reading list which is shared with pupils at the start of the year and requires them to read six texts from different genres throughout the year.
  • Pupils take part in Let’s Think in English lessons in Y7 and Y8. These are cognitive development lessons which explore texts through structured talk and pupil-led discussion.
  • Pupils are expected to read around the topics with novels, play and poetry suggested on the cover sheet of each unit

Enrichment Opportunities

  • Debating – we currently run debating clubs in KS3 and take part in debating contests with other schools
  • Reading Clubs – we run reading clubs in all year groups at KS3