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Welcome to the English Department

Within these pages you will find lots of information about the subject and how the department operates.

If you have any queries regarding English please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.

Louise Tickell
Head of English

Newman Catholic School, Carlisle

Key Stage 3

Improving pupils’ literacy skills is a whole school focus. It is vital that all pupils read for pleasure at least 3 times a week as this will develop and enrich their vocabulary. 

In KS3 English, pupils are taught the following skills in accordance with the government’s New Secondary Curriculum: speaking and listening, in particular, discussion skills, presentation, listening and responding and drama; reading, in particular, reading for meaning and understanding the author’s craft; writing (generic conventions, language analysis); generic conventions; language analysis, such as learning the conventions of writing and composing.

New long-term plans have recently been developed for KS3 pupils and are available to pupils and parents if required.

One assessment piece per year at KS3 takes the form of a spoken presentation as part of a Speaking and Listening Unit called ‘Newman Presents’. This Unit is designed to build on pupils’ confidence when speaking aloud in front of their peers through public speaking, performance and debate. The topics covered in the Unit encourage pupils to think about topical issues, Cultural Capital and British Values. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing so we place a great emphasis on all pupils experiencing a range of spoken language tasks.

Year 7

In Year 7, pupils embark on their Learning Journey through English with a Transition Unit which covers a selection of extracts from 19th Century literature. This unit is designed to build on pupils’ decoding skills from KS2; pupils will continue to learn new vocabulary and grammatical structures through reading these extracts.

Pupils will discover the joys of creative writing through a unit called ‘Escape from Kraznir’ where, alongside writing, pupils will also be actively encouraged to work in groups to make decisions. Pupils develop their written skills from KS2 as they will plan their writing by identifying the audience and purpose for the writing, draft and write their writing by selecting appropriate grammar and vocabulary and they will then evaluate the success of their own and their peers’ written work.

The journey of learning for Year 7 pupils continues in English as they will study a selection of poetry based on ‘Experiences from School’. A range of contemporary and non-contemporary poets have been chosen from both genders to ensure that pupils get a wider range of experiences; pupils are also further exposed to the local poet, William Wordsworth. Pupils will build on their prior knowledge of poetry from KS1 and KS2 as they continue to build up a repertoire of poems and learn to recite a selection by heart.

In the spring term, pupils will study a Shakespeare play. Having read a play in KS2, pupils will be familiar with the format and structure of a play text; however, the language of Shakespeare will challenge pupils in their English lessons. Through this unit, pupils will lean about Shakespeare’s comedy and characterisation through his play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.

In the summer term, pupils will be analysing a range of Gothic narratives to build on their inference and deduction skills. Focussing on ‘The Woman in Black’ pupils will develop their analytical skills as well as creative writing abilities.

Pupils are also encouraged to read modern texts in their own time.

Year 8

In the autumn term, pupils will read ‘The Hunger Games’ and gain appreciation for whole text study. They will learn the conventions of a Dystopian story and be able to analyse features such as language and structure.

In the spring term, pupils will study a variety of poems as part of an ‘Other Cultures’ Unit of Work with the aim of developing their analytical skills. A range of male and female poets are studied to ensure pupils are exposed to a range of styles and voices. Pupils will also be given the opportunity to write their own poetry, which is entered into a National Competition and may be published.

The journey for pupils continues as they complete a Unit of Work on Shakespeare’s Villains. This Unit is designed to build on pupils’ more general exposure to Shakespeare’s work in Year 7. Plays such as ‘Macbeth’ and ‘King Lear’ are explored in a way that further improves analytical skills and ability to decode challenge vocabulary and grammar.

In the summer term, pupils will read non-fiction texts based on the life of Charles Dickens and this will enable them to contextualise the fictional work of the author in the final half-term. Following this, they study ‘Oliver Twist’. Again, this provides the opportunity for whole text study.

Pupils are also encouraged to read modern texts in their own time.

Year 9

In Year 9, pupils study ‘A Speckled Band’ and ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ in the autumn term. These detective genre texts provide the opportunity for pupils to engage with the structure of texts and analysis of tension and characterisation. In the autumn term, pupils also study ‘Of Mice and Men’ to further support understanding of the importance of contextual understanding when approaching texts. This also provides an opportunity for pupils to appreciate whole text reading to better understand the use of structure and character development.

In the spring term, pupils move on to an Unseen Poetry Unit. This unit builds upon earlier studies of poetry at KS3 with exposure to challenging poems to prepare them for GCSE standards.

Further preparation for GCSE begins when pupils learn the story of ‘An Inspector Calls’. This Unit looks at themes, context, language, stagecraft, and how all aspects of theatre craft are influential in shaping meaning.

At the end of the academic year pupils study five of the poems from the ‘Love and Relationships’ Anthology.

Key Stage 4

GCSE English Language and Literature: All pupils will study both GCSE English Language and English Literature.

The new GCSE- the main changes:

  • The final award will be a number between 1 and 9 (9 being the highest) rather than A*-G.
  • There will be no tiers of entry.
  • Pupils will be expected to read more challenging unseen and previously studied texts.
  • Pupils will, for both Language and Literature, have to study texts from the nineteenth century.
  • The Literature exams are all ‘closed book’, which means they will not be permitted to take a copy of the text into the exam.


English Language AQA

There will be two exams, each lasting one hour 45 minutes. Both of these exams will require pupils to respond to a series of questions on unseen texts: one literary fiction, one literary non-fiction (diary, travel writing etc) and one fiction. These texts will have been written in the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century (one from each century).

Paper 1: ‘Explorations in creative Reading and Writing’. 50%

Section A: Reading 25%

Four questions on one literature fiction text from either the 20th or 21st century.

Section B: Writing 25%

One question, out of a choice of two narrative or descriptive tasks.

Paper 2: ‘Writer’s viewpoints and Perspectives.’ 50%

Section A: Reading 25%

Four questions on two texts, one literary non-fiction and one non-foction. One of these texts will be from the nineteenth century.

Section B: Writing 25%

One question out of a choice of two discursive tasks.

English Literature EDEXCEL

There will be two exams, the first lasting one hour 45 minutes and the second lasting two hours 15 minutes. Pupils will read and study a variety of whole texts, including a play by Shakespeare, a nineteenth century novel, a modern novel or play and an Anthology of poetry.

Paper 1: Shakespeare and Post-1914 Literature 40%

Section A: Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

For this section, pupils will be given an extract from the play which they will be expected to analyse. They are then required to link this to the rest of the novel. There are NO choices of questions.

Section B: Post-1914 Literature: An Inspector Calls (J.B. Priestley)

For this section, pupils will be given a quotation from the play which they should use as a stimulus for answering the question. There is a CHOICE of two questions from which pupils must choose.

Paper 2: 19th Century Novel, poetry and unseen poetry 60%

Section A: 19th Century Novel: A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens) For this question there will be an extract and no choice of question

Section B: Poetry: Relationships cluster from the Edexcel Anthology. One poem from the cluster will be printed on the paper, then the pupils will select a further poem and compare the two in relation to the given theme.

Section C: Unseen poetry: For this section, there are two questions. The first is on a single poem and the second is a comparison with a second poem. Again, there is NO choice of question.

Key Stage 5

OCR English language and English Literature

The qualification develops pupils’ ability to apply and integrate linguistic and literary approaches to a wide range of spoken and written texts. The texts are from different periods and include prose, poetry, drama and non-literary texts.

Component 01: Exploring non-fiction and spoken texts

Pupils focus on the study of an OCR (EMC) anthology of twenty spoken and written non-fiction texts from different time periods, types of text and contexts. Some of the spoken texts in the anthology will be spontaneous or semi-spontaneous talk, but will be confined to texts that are for a public audience.

Texts will be refreshed after three years; centres will be notified in advance.

Component 02: The language of poetry and plays

Pupils explore poetic and dramatic texts through stylistic and dramatic analysis.

There are two sections:

  • Section A focuses on one poetry collection from a choice of six, each with 15 poems identified for study.
  • Section B focuses on one drama text from a choice of six.

This component draws on the discipline of stylistics to foster an integrated study of linguistic and literary approaches to poetry and drama.

The set texts will be reviewed after three years and may be subject to change. Centres will be informed of any changes one year in advance.

Component 03: Reading as a writer, writing as a reader

Pupils explore the nature of narrative in one prose fiction text from a choice of six and produce an original piece of writing in the narrative genre.

There are two sections:

  • Section A focuses on the nature of narrative in one prose fiction text from a choice of six set texts.
  • Section B requires pupils to draw upon their understanding of how narratives work as the basis for their own original writing in the genre. This allows them to demonstrate expertise and creativity in the use of English to communicate in different ways.

The set texts will be reviewed after three years and may be subject to change. Centres will be informed of any changes one year in advance.

Component 04: Independent study: analysing and producing texts

There are two parts:

  • In task 1 pupils pursue a particular interest and develop their expertise through an analytical comparative essay on one non-fiction set text (selected from a list of twelve) and a second text of their own choosing. At least one text must have been published post-2000.
  • In task 2 pupils produce a piece of original non-fiction writing in an appropriate genre.

Library Services for Schools

Cumbrian secondary schools` book award

Spellbinding is all about fostering a love of reading and broadening reading horizons by being exposed to exciting new authors and titles.

The award gives pupils aged 11-16 the opportunity to read, review and vote for their favourite book out of a shortlist of ten pupil-nominated titles. The interactive website allows them to share their views and opinions with pupils from other schools across the county.

Cumbrian secondary schools` book award
Think U Know
Young Writers
Catholic Teaching Alliance
Accelerated Reader
Microsoft Office Specialist
Ofsted ParentView