English at Alderbrook School seeks to encourage creativity and to provoke wonder through the opportunities to learn from a broad range of sophisticated texts. We are therefore very proud of the variation within the fiction and non-fiction literature that we teach. The department understands that variety can breed a lifelong love of reading. A broad range of genres have been carefully chosen to study throughout KS3 and should be read and experienced in order to meet and exceed the skilled requirements of the Language and Literature GCSEs. Schemes of Work are regularly reviewed, updated or reordered. Staff and pupil voice are also used to assess effectiveness of Units of work.  Books are selected for engagement and contextual relevance with an eye on Cultural Capital and Diversity as well as satisfying exam criteria. The idea to study beyond the curriculum can also be shown within our Schemes of Work – for instance, the idea of the Russian Revolution; immigration and adversity in both fiction & non-fiction are all powerful topics that we believe students need to acknowledge in our current political climate.

As well as this, by assessing and analysing the reading ages of all students, we can consistently check for reading progress. Reading ages are monitored and published from the beginning of year 7. This enables staff across the whole school to use the information to find appropriate reading material in each subject areas. All staff can then provide supported intervention and adaptive teaching within lessons. Outside of lessons our librarian can then recommend ability appropriate reading material, when students are seeking new books to read for pleasure. Pupils who do not progress as expected are then placed into an intensive reading intervention programme for 6- 12 weeks, once or twice a week depending on skills gap. We have a wide range of reading interventions from phonics for our weaker readers to speed reading and comprehensible skills for our more able students.

At Key Stage 3 there is an obvious emphasis on textual variation, but also on the accumulation and progression of skills. We wanted a curriculum where learning was also a well-sequenced tool to build on prior knowledge and skills. This can be shown through the new structure of our curriculum. Within Years 7 & 8 we provide pupils with the building blocks to become confident with both the comprehension and expression of the English language. This can be demonstrated by both Reading & Writing assessments becoming progressively more challenging from Years 7-8, as well as there being a through-line linking prior learning.  As pupils develop through their KS3 learning journey the English Faculty also believe that Year 9 pupils should be given a diet rich in sophisticated and high-quality texts; texts that have both GCSE weighting and others that are not repeated for another two years in KS4. However, what makes Year 9 so different to Years 7 & 8 is that we have introduced skills-based assessments that focus on GCSE language. We did not want to confine Year 9 to a curriculum predominantly lead by our current KS4 GCSE texts, but we do acknowledge that by Year 9 students should have developed the critical and creative skills to access higher level questioning.

By the time students enter our KS4 curriculum we want them to possess the skills-based knowledge to be able to answer any GCSE-style question. We are therefore starting to create a new Year 10 & 11 sequence of learning that will use retrieval methods, metacognitive practice and ideas surrounding checking for understanding to not only enable pupils to succeed in their GCSEs but also to allow them to develop life skills. In all Key Stages retrieval activities have been fundamental in allowing prior knowledge to be accessed both within individual lessons and through schemes of work. To develop this idea further, we have begun to trial a metacognitive mode of learning within Year 11, whereby the main aim of our lesson is focused upon students recalling prior learning as well as being guided through the lesson via both modelling and strategic feedback. If pupils then choose to take either English Language or English Literature at A-Level they would have already acquired the necessary skills to interpret a heightened level of academic text.


Key Stage 3

In Key Stage 3, English groups are mixed ability except 7y6 & 7z-9z who will be mainly based in the Archer Clive building or in smaller classrooms. There are 5-6 groups on each side of the year group. Pupils follow a different scheme of work every half term. These schemes of work are designed to encourage a love of fiction & non-fiction texts, as well as building up to a skills-based curriculum at GCSE level.

Year 7
  • Autumn 1: Dystopian Fiction
  • Autumn 2: Identity Poetry
  • Spring 1: Myths & Legends
  • Spring 2: Much Ado About Nothing
  • Summer 1: Introduction to Persuasion
  • Summer 2: 19th Century Child
Year 8
  • Autumn 1: Grisly Gothic
  • Autumn 2: Crime & Detective Fiction
  • Spring 1: Love & Relationships Poetry
  • Spring 2: Inequality & Diversity within Non-Fiction
  • Summer 1: The Taming of the Shrew
  • Summer 2: Revolution
Year 9
  • Autumn 1: A Christmas Carol
  • Autumn 2: Frankenstein
  • Spring 1: Writing to Engage
  • Spring 2: Introduction to Macbeth
  • Summer 1: Creating a Viewpoint
  • Summer 2: War Poetry

Key Stage 4

In Key Stage 4, English groups are set by ability based on KS3 performance. There are 5-6 sets on each side of the year group. Both AQA English Literature & English Language are examined at the end of Year 11 in sets 1-5, whilst most set 6 groups focus on the skills-based course of Step Up to English and the GCSE English Language qualification. Literature is not assessed for this group.

Year 10
  • Autumn 1: English Literature Paper 1 – A Christmas Carol
  • Autumn 2: Paper 1 Language Section B & Conflict Poetry
  • Spring 1: English Language Paper 2- Question 4 & 5 only
  • Spring 2: Unseen Poetry
  • Summer 1: English Literature Paper 1 – Macbeth/Speaking & Listening
  • Summer 2: Language Paper 1 Section A & An Inspector Calls Language
Year 11
  • Autumn 1: Retrieval of Literature Paper 1 & Main Focus on Language Paper 1
  • Autumn 2: Retrieval of Literature Paper 2 & Main Focus on Language Paper 2
  • Spring 1: Retrieval of Language Paper 1 & 2 & Main Focus on Literature Essays
  • Spring 2: Retrieval of Language Paper 1 & 2 & Main Focus on Literature Essays
  • Summer 1: Revision of all key components of both Literature & Language examinations


Key Stage 5

English Language

Exam Board: AQA

Why A level English Language?

The study of English Language is a complex, yet inspiring, journey into communication in its most diverse forms. Alongside the exploration of grammatical structures, students will have the opportunity to analyse how language impacts on individuals and communities, within a rigorous and academic framework.

What will you study?

A level English Language is quite different from the experience at GCSE, as it focuses on how the language is learnt, used and changed in different contexts, at different times.

University degrees that require or often prefer English include:

English Literature, English Language and Linguistics, History, Media Studies, Drama, Modern Foreign Languages, European Studies and American Studies.

Entry requirements:

Minimum grade 6 in GCSE English Language.


English Literature

Exam Board:  AQA

Why A level English Literature?

English Literature has enabled mankind to express itself and in return, we are able to question and affirm our own values and beliefs through the power of literature. By exploring a range of texts, we are able to enhance our experiences of different cultures, philosophies and eras.

What will you study?

A level English Literature provides a deepening insight into the social and historical contexts which influence writers. The exploration of literature enhances critical thinking and analysis, developing excellent communication skills. In the study of English Literature, classical and modern texts come alive and have relevance to our ever-changing world.

University degrees that require or often prefer English include:

English Literature, English Language and Linguistics, History, Media Studies, Drama, Modern Foreign Languages, European Studies and American Studies.

Entry requirements:

Minimum grade 6 in GCSE English Literature


Contact the Head of Department

For further information, please contact the Curriculum Leader for English, Jess Palmer.