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Key Stage 4 

At Key Stage Four, learners revisit the substantive and disciplinary knowledge from Key Stage three,  building on their learning through more complex texts and learning to master understanding and application of key concepts in English.  Learners follow the Edexcel Literature specification, studying ‘Journey’s End’ by R.C. Sherriff, ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘A Christmas Carol’ and the conflict anthology of poems. Alongside this, learners are taught approaches to comprehend unseen literary fiction and non-fiction texts, and learn the conventions of a range of nonfiction text types in preparation for their AQA Language GCSE.

Learning Journey & Sequencing Rationale

Year 10 

In the first term of Year 10 learners study the first of their GCSE texts: ‘Journey’s End’ a World War One play by R.C Sherriff. Learners revisit contextual knowledge of World War One to inform their understanding of the plot, characters and themes.  Learners also revisit key aspects of narrative from key stage three, including characterisation and symbolism and build on their knowledge of the dramatic form. Learners are taught to write critically about the play, integrating contextual details to develop their interpretations and comment on authorial intention. Learners are also introduced to the concepts of literary criticism, dramatic interpretation and audience reception across time. 

Alongside their study of this play, learners study the war poems from the conflict poetry anthology. Beginning with ‘Exposure’ written during world war one, learners explore attitudes to war and its representation in literature over time, before moving on to the rest of the anthology. Learners revisit a range of poetic devices first encountered in Year 7 and revisited throughout key stage 3. Learners are also introduced to the comparative element of the poetry unit and are taught how to make connections between context, authorial intention and methods. 

In spring term, learners move on to the study of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, revisiting their knowledge of Shakespearean context, language and form. Learners explore types of conflict (informed by their study of the conflict anthology) and become adept at identifying and analysing a range of figurative devices in unseen extracts. Learners also learn the significance of the themes of the play in relation to the context and are taught to form thesis statements to structure their thematic essays. 

From spring term and in preparation for the language GCSE, learners are introduced to the content and structure of AQA Language Paper 1. They are reminded of the aspects of narrative they have studied throughout key stage three and are taught to apply this knowledge to unseen extracts from a range of authors. Learners are taught exam techniques, but are encouraged to make connections between their prior learning of genre, figurative language, characterisation, setting and symbolism. Learners then apply this knowledge to produce their own pieces of creative writing. They are reminded of how to emulate a writer’s style in order to make their own work convincing and compelling and are taught to plan and write in exam conditions. 

Year 11 

In autumn term, year 11 are introduced to the final text of the GCSE Literature course: ‘A Christmas Carol’. Learners revisit their knowledge of Victorian literature and the context of Victorian Britain from Year 8. They also revisit the features of the form of the novella previously studied in Year 9. Learners revisit all aspects of narrative in their study of this novella: dialogue, characterisation, setting, symbolism, plot and theme. They practise close text level analysis and whole text thematic responses. Learners have previously encountered these question types in their study of Romeo and Juliet and once again, learners are taught how to formulate thesis statements to ensure essay responses are coherent. Learners practise honing their critical voice and explore literary criticism to support more advanced interpretations. 

For the language GCSE, Year 11s draw on their knowledge of studying non-fiction text types throughout key stage 3 and practise identifying and making inferences about writers’ viewpoints and perspectives in unseen texts. Learners are encouraged to draw on their knowledge of comparing texts to make connections between writer’s attitudes and beliefs in order to fulfil the requirements of the exam. 

For the writing component of this unit, learners will draw on their knowledge of rhetorical devices taught in Year 9, as well as other text types they have produced throughout their study at key stage three. Learners are taught how to plan and produce non-fiction texts to convey a viewpoint in exam conditions. 

English language Term overview

Unit overview - conflict poetry anthology

Subject: English Literature GCSE (Edexcel) Conflict Poetry Anthology


Learners will be able to:

AO1 - Learners will be able to identify the theme and distinguish between themes; support a point of view by referring to evidence in the text; recognise the possibility of and evaluate different responses to a text, make an informed personal response that derives from analysis and evaluation of a whole text.

AO2 – Learners will be able to analyse and evaluate how language (including figurative language), structure, form and presentation contribute to quality and impact; use linguistic and literary terminology for such evaluation

AO3 - Learners will be able to use their understanding of writer’s social, historical and cultural contexts to inform evaluation of the text. This includes the author's own life and situation, including the place and time of writing, only where these relate to the text, the historical setting, time and location of the text, social and cultural contexts, the literary context, the way in which texts are received and engaged with by different audiences, at different times


Learners will know:

  • Concept of a poetry anthology
  • Definition and various interpretations of conflict
  • Social and historical contexts of each poem (including author’s life, historical setting, social and cultural context, literary contexts and the way the texts are received by different readers, at different times)
  • A range of subject terminology to identify language and structure (noun, verb, adverb, adjective, imagery, metaphor, simile, personification, oxymoron, juxtaposition)
  • Specific poetic devices (rhyme, rhythm, enjambment, caesura)
  • Human concepts, emotions and experiences (war, internal conflict, honour, glory, anger, doubt, morality, repressed emotions, revenge, betrayal, loss of innocence, racism, sexism, classism)


Learners will draw and build on knowledge of studying poetry in both Year 7 and 8 to study the GCSE Conflict Poetry Anthology as part of their English Literature GCSE. This component of the GCSE course is arguably the most challenging but the learners arrive well-prepared for an exploration of the language, structure and context of fifteen poems, having practiced these skills in various contexts throughout the Key Stages.

In this unit, learners will embark on a thorough exploration of some of English Literature’s most well-known poems from the Romantic Poetry of William Blake to more contemporary poems written by John Agard and Benjamin Zephaniah exploring race and identity in modern Britain. As a department, we chose the Conflict Anthology as it is a theme the learners will have explored in depth, having studied ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Journey’s End’ prior to this unit. This unit will provide an opportunity for close analysis of the language and structure of each poem and encourage learners to make links with the social and historical context and other poems in the anthology.  The comparative element of this unit, albeit challenging, will provide the foundational skills for further study at A level, whereby learners will be expected to compare both the poetry of William Blake and unseen non-fiction extracts. The skills honed in this unit will also aid the development of skills for the unseen element of the Literature paper.

The Conflict Anthology, aside from providing the opportunity to explore some of the most famous poems in the English literary Canon, is a chance to explore a range of complex human experiences and emotions that remain relatable and relevant in our society today. Conflicts between family and friends, experiences of discrimination based on gender and race and the turmoil and suffering caused by war, remain compelling and important in our modern society. Many of the poems will expose learners to important moments in our human history, thus developing their understanding of how our world is shaped today whilst also providing a foundational knowledge for further study of subjects such as history, economics and politics.

Unit overview - a Christmas carol

Subject: English Literature GCSE (Edexcel) 19th Century Novel:  ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens


Learners will be able to:

AO1: Read, understand and respond to texts. Learners should be able to: maintain a critical style and develop an informed personal response and use textual references, including quotations, to support and illustrate interpretations

AO2:  Analyse the language, form and structure used by a writer to create meanings and effects, using relevant subject terminology where appropriate


Learners will know:

  • The historical, social, political, cultural context of Victorian Britain
  • The literary context and audience receptions of a Victorian novella –didactisim in Victorian Literature
  • Features of a novella as a literary form
  • The plot of a full-length play and its key characters, setting, events and themes
  • Literary concepts of foreshadowing, tension, imagery and figurative language, cyclical structure, characterisation and symbolism, narrative voice
  • Linguistic concepts and terminology used to identify them including imperative verbs, compound adjectives, asyndetic and syndetic listing, interrogative and exclamatory phrases, sibilance, assonance, juxtaposition.
  • Human concepts of morality, philanthropy, misanthropy,  fear, poverty, redemption, forgiveness, greed
  • Concept of literary criticism


Year 11 learners study the novella ‘A Christmas Carol’ as part of Edexcel Literature’s Component 2: 19th Century Novel.  Learners draw on their knowledge of Victorian Britain from their study of Oliver Twist and Coram Boy at Key Stage Three, demonstrating their understanding of the inequalities in society during the 19th century, whilst being introduced to the notion of didactisim in literature.  They will continue to develop their ability to analyse language, structure and form at a more advanced level and will be introduced to a range of linguistic terminology in preparation for their GCSE examinations; this also provides a good foundation for further study of English at A Level.   

The study of ‘A Christmas Carol’ gives all learners the opportunity to study a canonical literary text from nineteenth century Britian and to develop a personal and critical response to its characters, themes and message. Learners are also taught to understand the way in which literary purpose and readers’ receptions change over time and are introduced to literary criticism alongside this.

The novella explores issues around wealth inequality, the role of benevolence and the need to show empathy and compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves. There are opportunities for learners to discuss the relevance of these themes in 21st century Britain and, in doing so, to understand the universal nature of literature, whose message, characters and themes often transcend the centuries.  

Exposure and engagement with the language and syntax of a nineteenth century literary text also aids learners with their study of AQA English Language Paper 2,  where they must read and demonstrate their understanding of the language and content on unseen nineteenth century texts.

knowledge Organiser

A knowledge organiser is an important document that lists the important facts that learners should know by the end of a unit of work. It is important that learners can recall these facts easily, so that when they are answering challenging questions in their assessments and GCSE and A-Level exams, they are not wasting precious time in exams focusing on remembering simple facts, but making complex arguments, and calculations.

We encourage all pupils to use them by doing the following:

  • Quiz themselves at home, using the read, write, cover, check method.
  • Practise spelling key vocabulary
  • Further researching people, events and processes most relevant to the unit.