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English

 

subject overview

As teachers of English, we want our learners to be critical thinkers and readers who are equipped with the knowledge and skills with which to make their own choices and decisions throughout their lives and who are compassionate, conscientious and creative. We want out learners to be effective communicators and we believe that mastery of the written and spoken word is fundamental to ensuring our learners have every opportunity to succeed in life.

unit overview - autumn term

Fantasy Unit – ‘Coraline’ by Neil Gaiman

Skills

Reading Skills

Language analysis – Learners will be able to retrieve explicit information from a fiction text and make developed inferences about character. Learners will be able to identify specific words and phrases used by a writer to describe a character and explain the effects of these choices on the reader. Learners will be able to use embedded quotes and subject terminology in their analysis.

Writing Skills

Descriptive Writing – Learners will be able to use vocabulary effectively to describe a fantasy character. They will be able to use a range of vocabulary and imagery in their own work.

Knowledge

Reading

Learners will need to know:

  • Conventions of the fantasy genre (including setting, characters, themes and conventional plots)
  • Key vocabulary related to the genre (see K.O.)
  • Character types – protagonist and antagonist
  • Subject terminology to identify language (adjective, verb, noun, adverb, imagery, simile, metaphor)
  • The concept of a quotation from a novel
  • Foreshadowing and tension
  • The purpose of an epigraph
  • The plot of a full-length novel and its key characters, settings and themes.

Writing

Learners will need to know:

  • Conventional characters from the fantasy genre
  • Key vocabulary related to the genre (see K.O.)
  • The success criteria for describing a character (adverbs, precise verbs, adjectives, tiny details to create imagery)

Rationale

The teaching of a novel in its entirety enables learners to engage fully with the plot, themes and characters of a fiction text. Year 7 learners in particular enjoy the genre of fantasy as it encourages and rewards creativity and imagination. Year 7 learners often arrive with these skills from primary school and we want to ensure that we continue to nurture these.

‘Coraline’ is a novel with very vivid character descriptions. This exposes learners to sophisticated vocabulary and a range of language devices through a simple yet engaging plot. This enables teachers to explicitly teach the identification and use of these language devices and to comment on the effect of these. This is a key reading skill (AO2) that learners will be required to master in order to succeed throughout KS3 and it is heavily assessed on both the Language and Literature papers at GCSE. It also allows learners to think critically about a writer’s choices and to begin to make personal and reflective responses to these. Further to this, the systematic analysis of language develops learners’ own writing skills, encouraging them to think about their own language choices in their written work and to also begin to acquire and develop their vocabulary.

‘Coraline’ has a young, adventurous and assertive female protagonist. Learners find her to be an inspiring and relatable character and she also provides teachers with the opportunity to dispel gender stereotypes. By focusing on characterisation in this novel, teachers are also able to develop learners’ empathy skills and encourage them to reflect on how they might act in Coraline’s situation. The fantasy genre in itself provides plenty of opportunities to discuss and debate important concepts of morality, bravery, resilience and responsibility. Knowledge and discussion of these concepts is not only integral to the understanding of many novels learners will read inside and outside of school, but will also encourage learners to reflect on their own character and behaviour as they transition from primary to secondary school.

                                                                                                               

unit overview - spring term

Subject:  Detective Fiction – ‘The Speckled Band’ by Arthur Conan Doyle

Skills

Reading Skills

Structural analysis – Learners will be able to identify specific language and structural devices used by a writer to build tension and explain the effects of these choices on the reader. Learners will be able to use embedded quotes and subject terminology in their analysis.

Writing Skills

Descriptive Writing – Learners will be able to use language, sentence types, and a range of punctuation to describe the scene of a crime and to build tension effectively. Learners will be able to use complex, compound and simple sentences for effect. Learners will be able to use full stops, commas, dashes and semi-colons.  They will be able to use a range of vocabulary and imagery in their own work.

Knowledge

Reading

Learners will need to know:

  • The context of social, historical, cultural and literary context
  • Historical context and conventions of the detective genre (including setting, characters, themes and conventional plots)
  • Key vocabulary related to the genre (see K.O.)
  • Historical context of The Sherlock Holmes stories and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The concept of tension and suspense
  • Human concepts of justice and retribution
  • The concept of language
  • The concept of structure
  • The concept of a quotation from a novel
  • Subject terminology to identify language (adjective, verb, noun, adverb, imagery, simile, metaphor)
  • Subject terminology to identify structure (shift in focus or tone, perspective, selective detail, order information is revealed in, pace, foreshadowing, repetition, sentence types)
  • The plot of a 19th century short story and its key characters, settings and themes.

Writing

Learners will need to know:

  • A range of sophisticated vocabulary to mimic Conan Doyle’s style of writing.
  • Key vocabulary related to the genre (see K.O.)
  • The success criteria for describing a setting (adverbs, precise verbs, adjectives, tiny details to create imagery)
  • The success criteria for building tension ( shift in focus or tone, perspective, selective detail, order information is revealed in, pace, foreshadowing, repetition, sentence types)
  • Correct use of full stops, commas, dashes and semi-colons.

Rationale

The teaching of Detective Fiction introduces learners to the concept of historical, social, cultural and literary context and the importance of considering these when reading a text. The concept of context is fundamental to the study of literature at GCSE level, assessed by Assessment Objective AO3. The teaching of Conan Doyle’s, ‘The Speckled Band’ introduces learners to the context and language of the 19th century, which is further developed in Year 8 (Oliver Twist) and at GCSE level (A Christmas Carol).  

This unit introduces learners to a key AO2 skill (structural analysis). This is a skill that learners have struggled to master at KS4, where it is assessed on both the Language and Literature specifications. It introduces learners to key structural devices (including explicit teaching of sentence types and punctuation) in an accessible way and allows learners to begin to consider the effect of these on the reader. ‘The Speckled Band’ is an accessible and engaging short story, with an abridged version for lower ability learners.  

Learners are then able to demonstrate their understanding of structural devices by applying them to their own descriptive writing. Skills learned from the descriptive writing task in Autumn Term are consolidated further at this point. However, the requirement for learners to build tension in their writing requires learners to use a range of sentence types and punctuation for effect.

Human concepts of justice and retribution are taught through this unit encouraging learners to reflect on key moral and social issues. The themes of justice and retribution and integral to learners understanding of texts taught in Year 9 (Frankenstein, Macbeth)and at GCSE Level (A Christmas Carol and Romeo and Juliet).

Unit overview -  summer term 

Subject:  Introduction to Shakespeare – A selection of extracts and sonnets

Skills

Writing Skills

Persuasive Writing Learners will be able to communicate clearly, adapting tone, style and register for a specific form, purpose and audience.  They will be able to organise information and ideas, using structural and grammatical features to support coherence and cohesion of texts.  Learners will be able to write in the form of a speech, adapting tone and style for an audience of year 7 learners. Learners will be able to use a range of vocabulary and devices (AFOREST) effectively to express a point of view. Learners will be able to write in paragraphs using punctuation (full stops, capital letters, commas with specific focus on exclamation marks and question marks) for effect. Learners will able to use a range of sentence types for effect.

Reading Skills

Language and structure in poetry – Learners will be able to comment on, explain and begin to analyse the language, form and structure used by a writer to create meanings and effects, using relevant subject terminology where appropriate

Knowledge

Writing

Learners will need to know:

  • Social, historical, cultural and literary context of the Elizabethan times
  • Context of Shakespeare’s life and work
  • The key forms of play (tragedy, comedy, history)
  • The key features of a play (prologue, stage directions, characters, audience, dialogue, monologue)
  • The arguments for and against studying Shakespeare in the present day
  • The concept of persuasive writing
  • The concept of purpose, audience and form
  • The concept of a speech 
  • A range of persuasive and rhetorical devices
  • The concept of an introduction and conclusion
  • The concept of paragraphs and discourse markers

Reading

Learners will need to know:

  • The context of love in Elizabethan times (unrequited love, courtly love)
  • Brief plot of Romeo and Juliet
  • The definitions of emotive language, imagery, juxtaposition and oxymorons.
  • The concept and features of a sonnet
  • Human concepts of love, power and gender.

Rationale

This unit provides learners with an introduction to the life and works of Shakespeare and exposes learners to the language, structure and forms of Shakespeare’s plays and poetry. Learners will build upon their knowledge of Shakespeare’s work in Year 9 (Macbeth) and at GCSE level (Romeo and Juliet). The non-fiction focus in Summer 1 allows for…

The first half of the unit focuses on contextual knowledge of Shakespeare’s life, times and works, and provides learners with the basis on which to form their own personal views regarding the value of studying Shakespeare in school today. This is the first time learners are expected to write a non-fiction text and will be explicitly taught a range of persuasive devices to use in their own writing. Learners will be required to write a speech. This is one of the three key forms of non-fiction text that learners must be able to demonstrate mastery of by GCSE level. It also provides leaners with the opportunity to perform their speeches, encouraging learners to see the value in spoken language and presentation skills. Whereas in Autumn and Spring terms, the focus has been on descriptive writing, this writing task requires leaners to think and write in a way that demonstrates a clear personal view with justifications for their viewpoints and perspectives. Leaners should be able to demonstrate a sequence of linked and relevant ideas using effective introductions and conclusions, paragraphing and discourse markers.

The second half of the unit serves two purposes. Learners are exposed to the richness of Shakespeare’s figurative language, as well as the features of a key poetic form. Learners acquire the knowledge and skill with which to approach what can seem like intimidating poems and are encouraged to make personal interpretations with support from the text. Learners revisit their knowledge of key subject terminology from Autumn term and develop this further by learning a number of key poetic devices.

knowledge OrganiserS

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.