Learning Journey & Sequencing Rationale
The Key Stage three curriculum introduces learners to a range of fiction and non-fiction forms, aspects of narrative and rhetorical devices. Learners are introduced to fundamental concepts in English including context, form, language and structure and explore these through a range of texts and authors. Learners are also introduced to different narrative forms including plays, poems, novels and short stories and explore the aspects of narrative specific to each form. Learners explore texts from a range of literary periods, which are informed by diverse historical and social contexts and are taught to consider the idea of the literary canon, alongside authorial intention and responsibility. They revisit these substantive and disciplinary concepts across Key Stage three, encountering them through more complex texts and learning to master understanding and application of key concepts in English.
In Year 7, learners are taught the history of the English language ensuring that learners understand the origins of English as a language and literature as a concept. Learners are introduced to the context, plot and themes of the epic poem ‘Beowulf’, discuss its significance in English literary history and read a Heaney translation of an extract. Learners are also introduced to ‘The Canterbury Tales’ as a seminal literary text in Middle English before moving on to the study of Shakespeare. Learners are introduced to Shakespeare’s life and work and begin to explore his use of language. This unit teaches learners about key periods in the development of the English language and introduces them to the notion of the literary canon. Through this unit, learners read, retrieve and infer information from both non-fiction texts and literary extracts and apply this knowledge to their own extended writing, producing their own information articles. In the second part of this unit, learners build on their understanding of Shakespeare’s language and the context in which he wrote through the study of two of his sonnets, where they are also introduced to key concepts in English including figurative language and poetic meter.
In spring term, learners learn how society and literature developed between Shakespeare’s era and the Victorian era. Learners study the genre of detective fiction and explore its origins in the context of the rapid social changes taking place in Britain at this time. Learners explore the short stories of Sherlock Holmes and are introduced to the concept of genre, the short story form and key aspects of narrative such as characterisation, setting, plot and narrative perspective. Learners are taught to identify genre specific conventions, analyse these and emulate them in their own creative writing.
In summer term, learners build on their understanding of genre through the study of a full-length children’s fantasy novel and revisit a key aspect of narrative (characterisation). Learners also revisit their knowledge of figurative language and are taught a wider range of terminology in order to analyse the presentation of character. Learners are explicitly taught the conventions for analytical writing, producing their first analytical essay at key stage three.
In Year 8, learners are reminded of the importance of social and historical context when reading and interpreting texts. Learners study the novel ‘War Horse’ alongside a range of non-fiction literary texts and poetry from world war one to develop an understanding of the war and its influence on literature. Learners are introduced to the concept of authorial intention and are taught to embed contextual detail to develop interpretations of a whole novel. Learners also revisit key aspects of narrative such as characterisation, setting and narrative perspective. Learners are also taught about how to produce their own literary non-fiction texts to express attitudes towards war.
In spring term, learners study the origins of gothic literature and draw on prior knowledge of the Shakespearean era and Victorian eras to understand the way in which the origins of the gothic were a reaction to the changes in society at the time. Learners revisit the concept of genre and develop their understanding of how figurative language contributes to generic conventions. Learners continue to develop their repertoire of terminology and practise refining their analytical writing to explore character and setting. As in Year 7, learners use their knowledge of generic and stylistic conventions to create a piece of writing in the style of the gothic genre.
At the end of year 8, learners revisit the short story form with a focus on narrative perspective through their study of a range of contemporary short stories. Learners draw on their understanding of the ways in which contemporaneous contexts influence writer’s choices about narrative voice and perspective, linking this to authorial intention and the responsibility of the writer.
In autumn term, learners study an example of 20th century American fiction (Of Mice and Men) alongside poetry and non-fiction texts from this era. Learners once again revisit the concepts of context - exploring social, historical, political and literary contexts of the time and compare the ways in which writers in 1930s America communicate their attitudes and beliefs. Learners are introduced to the notion of the writer as a social critic and explore the limitations surrounding Steinbeck’s ability to comment on the experiences of marginalised people as a white, middle class man. Learners re-visit the concept of characterisation as a tool to communicate authorial intention, linking text-level analysis to whole text purpose.
Learners spend fourteen weeks studying a full-length Shakespeare play (Macbeth). Learners revisit the context of Shakespeare and the form of a play and look at the conventions of tragedy in preparation for their study of Romeo and Juliet at key stage four. Learners revisit the concepts of characterisation and theme, and are also introduced to methods unique to the dramatic form (stage directions, asides, soliloquies). Learners revisit and practise key analytical skills needed for key stage four (annotation, inference, interpretation) and practise honing their ability to write critically about both character and theme.
In the final 8 weeks of year 9, learners study the art of rhetoric, exploring its history and being taught the key concepts of rhetoric. Learners identify and analyse the use of these concepts in a range of 20th and 21st century speeches from Michelle Obama to Greta Thunberg. Learners make inferences about writer’s viewpoints and perspectives in preparation for their study of non-fiction texts at key stage four. Informed by this knowledge of rhetoric, learners plan, write and deliver their own speeches about a contemporary issue of their choice, as part of their spoken language component of their English language GCSE.
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.