St. Mary's

English Subject Overview

Includes English Language and English Literature

Statement of Intent

As stated by C. S. Lewis: “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.”

This perfectly encapsulates the English curriculum intent at St Mary’s Catholic Academy; we aim to enrich every students’ life through reading and writing experiences.

At the heart of the English curriculum at St Mary’s is the development of the individual person. We aim to offer every student who enters the English classroom a rich and broad experience of both English Language and Literature. We aim to create the very best communicators, readers, writers and thinkers. By exposing students to a plethora of text types, literary styles and writers, we not only develop literacy skills; we are also able to enrich students’ lives by augmenting their cultural capital and life experiences.

The functions of literature and language in enabling students to lead the best possible lives are at the forefront of the curriculum. Through English Language, we seek to provide students with the language capacity to navigate and succeed in their daily lives, encouraging students to be able to apply English functionally and accurately in the wider world. Furthermore, we wish to inspire those students who wish to pursue more language-based careers, such as writing, journalism, speech therapy, education and media production. Through English Literature we seek to develop students’ ability to think deeply about humanity and to discover the riches of their Literary Heritage, whilst developing the critical faculties to evaluate the ideas and the craft in these texts. We challenge students to think, act and speak like those working in the field would: to read like writers, to write like readers, to speak like orators.

Our curriculum goes far beyond what is taught in lessons, for whilst we want students to achieve the very best examination results possible, we believe our curriculum goes beyond what is examinable. We do this by regular exposure to a wide range of the finest fiction and non-fiction texts, exploring them through practical, creative and analytical approaches (consolidated through the whole Academy reading programme – The Literary Canon). We offer extra-curricular clubs in creative writing and debating. We support productions and take students to the theatre and poetry events and work with writers both in and out of the Academy. Participation in local and national competitions is also supported; we are proud to have our very own Poet Laureates within our Academy. We even encourage some healthy competition between our own Hogwarts style ‘Houses’ – our 4 Literary Houses are The Brontes, Dickens, Shakespeare and Shelley! World Book Day is celebrated each year and through this, we aim to capture the imagination of our students and teachers alike.

Our Key Stage 3 curriculum is designed to engage our students and fuel their love of English. Whilst we begin working on the skills required for GCSE at the very start of Year 7, GCSE examination success is not our driver; rather, we teach students how to appreciate a range of literary and non-fiction texts, using these reading experiences as ‘springboards’ for students’ own writing and speech. In doing this, we are able to build on students’ skills in each of the threshold concept areas. Each of our topical modules covers both reading and writing; skills are developed cumulatively.

To allow students to build up their skills across the 3 year curriculum, we begin with a focus on the writer’s craft in Year 7, developing the students’ ability to analyse language. In Year 8, we introduce students to the concept of evaluating and analysing narrative structure. By Year 9 students are equipped to tackle synthesis and comparison across multiple texts. Interleaved along these analytical reading methods is the development of a student’s ability to write creatively, accurately and for stated audiences and purposes.

Our chosen topics allow us to open up each one of our young person’s mind to the world beyond their own. Seminal world literature, texts across time, modern media and non-fiction texts and writing styles, as well as classic canonical texts, all feature across the 3 year curriculum. Some schools choose a chronological approach, taking students on a linear journey through historical literature. For us, the structure of the course is designed so that the skills progressively increase in challenge, and thus sometimes, text types may seem to regress in difficulty. This is to allow students to become comfortable with applying more challenging skills to less challenging reading material and writing stimuli.

When students reach Key Stage 4, they will have a strong foundation to help them tackle the demands of GCSE. We follow the AQA GCSE English Language and English Literature specifications. Schemes of learning for each of these are interleaved, with lesson starters and home learning tasks revisiting previously taught topics for revision. This spaced practice approach, and interleaving between Language and Literature, helps us to support students’ retrieval practice whilst also teaching new content and skills. All students are taught the same Literature texts, regardless of MTG or class teacher.

As a Catholic academy, our ethos runs through everything we teach; English is the perfect subject to encourage our students to be caring members of our community. Through English lessons, we challenge prejudice, equip students with the skills needed to express their thoughts and beliefs; we use literature as a window to explore humanity across the world. It is not possible to teach English at St Mary’s without incorporating the essence of our Catholic ethos.

By the end of Year 11, we hope to see as many of our students continue their English studies at A-level, and we offer both the Language and Literature A-Level courses. For those pursuing alternative pathways, we believe that the English curriculum experienced at St Mary’s will have enriched their lives whilst also allowing them to succeed as communicators in their future endeavours.

KS3 Curriculum Map

KS3 Overview

At KS3, our intent is to expose students to a wide variety of literary and non-fiction texts, as well as teaching them how to express themselves through different forms of writing, with accuracy, functionality and creativity. Every single one of our KS3 units covers both reading and writing skills. Whilst gaining knowledge about literary contexts, styles and conventions under the ‘umbrellas’ of the unit themes, students are also cumulatively building their skills in reading and writing.

Year 7 Topics
Year 8 Topics
Year 9 Topics

KS4 Curriculum Map

KS4 Overview

We follow the AQA GCSE English Language and English Literature specifications. Schemes of learning for each of these are interleaved, with lesson starters and home learning tasks revisiting previously taught topics for revision. This spaced practice approach, and interleaving between Language and Literature, helps us to support students’ retrieval practice whilst also teaching new content and skills. All students are taught the same Literature texts, regardless of MTG or class teacher.

Year 10 Topics
Year 11 Topics

A Level Curriculum Map

A Level English Literature Overview
We follow the AQA Literature Specification A, option B curriculum. Not only are passionate about the texts taught on the course, we also thoroughly enjoy developing our Literature A-level students into avid wider readers through our book club and regular theatre trips. By choosing Literature, students will embark on exciting reading opportunities, exposing them to literature from a multitude of genres, forms and time periods. However, English Literature is not ‘just’ about reading books; it opens doors to a plethora of cultures, philosophies and emotions, allowing students to explore subjects beyond that which you expect to find in a literary classic.
Year 12 Topics

Unit 1: With an overarching theme of ‘Love Through the Ages’, students will develop skills of language analysis to discover love, loss, suffering, grief and heartache. Across the two years of study, students will read and explore modern day literature as well as the classics. It will be an unforgettable journey as students explore personal and alternative interpretations of these literary texts.

Texts covered: Shakespeare’s Othello; F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby; AQA Poetry Anthology including John Donne, John Wilmot, Thomas Hardy, Andrew Marvell and Christina Rossetti. We also prepare students to respond to unseen poetry comparatively.

Year 13 Topics
Unit 2: Modern Times: Literature from 1945 to the present day; This unit opens up to themes of insanity, identity, gender and society, crime and morality. We explore Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire; Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Carol Ann Duffy’s Feminine Gospels. NEA: 20% Coursework – Students will be given the opportunity to embark on a non-exam assessment independent study. They will choose two texts with a common theme (1 text must be pre-1900) and will explore and investigate their own topic focus. Some of the texts our students enjoy for this unit are: Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Charlotte-Perkins Gillman’s The Yellow Wallpaper.
A Level English Language Overview
English Language EDUCAS A level enables students to become linguistically fluent in analysing how language is used and to explain, in significant depth, how writers exploit and manipulate language for purpose and effect. Following the reformed GCSE English Language, it is the next step in language analysis, building upon critical skills acquired at GCSE. A wide range of topics are studied throughout the course including an Original Writing unit which allows students to flex their creative muscles! English Language A Level study units enable opportunities for independent research on a sociolinguistic topic. Such a variety within the syllabus provides range and dynamism for the English Language students, keeping it fresh, interesting and relevant. We look at language in a wider context and study the social, historical and cultural impact of the written and spoken word. One key area of study is exploring how the English language developed and continues to adapt, change and evolve over time.
Year 12 Topics

Language Concepts and Issues – Analysis of spoken language transcripts and key issues (ranging from language acquisition to language and power).

Language Change over Time – Wide range of language change studied ranging from Early Modern English to how English is used in the C21st.

Creative and Critical Use of Language—Two original writing tasks and one commentary.

Coursework: Language and Identity — Independent Extended Essay ( 20% of overall A-Level).

Year 13 Topics
Development of and revision of Year 12 Units