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English

subject overview 

As teachers of English at Harrow High, 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 

Subject: English Year 8 Term One – War Unit – ‘War Horse’ by Michael Morpurgo

Skills

Reading Skills

Interpretation and Context: Explore the Impact of War –Learners will be able to develop a personal response soundly related to the text with focused supporting textual references. Learners will be able to relate the text to its historical context in order to develop their interpretations further.

Writing Skills

Writing to Present a Viewpoint: Write a letter to the British government expressing your objections to WW1 – Learners will be able to write a letter in a register matched to audience and purpose. Learners will be able to use a variety of devices and effective vocabulary to express a viewpoint.  Learners will be able to structure their argument in coherent paragraphs using punctuation (full stops, capital letters, commas and question marks) effectively.

Knowledge

Reading

Learners will need to know:

  • Context of World War One including the use of horses in the war, propaganda and recruitment and realities of trench life.
  • The concept of a quotation from a novel
  • The concepts of empathy, compassion, loss, friendship, morality and ethics
  • The concepts of duty and honour
  • The plot of a full-length novel and its key characters, settings and themes.
  • Writer’s purpose

Writing

Learners will need to know:

  • The format of a formal letter
  • A range of persuasive devices  
  • The concept of a paragraph
  • The concept of a range of punctuation
  • The purpose of an introduction and conclusion

Rationale

The teaching of a novel in its entirety enables learners to engage fully with the plot, themes and characters of a fiction text. In Year 8, learners are exposed to more complex and challenging themes and are encouraged to think critically by developing a personal response to a text which is rooted in a real-life historical contexts. The reading skills are complimented by the writing task, which encourages learners to express a personal viewpoints in an effective and formal manner.

‘War Horse’ introduces learners to the importance of considering the historical context of a fiction text, which is a key skill needed at GCSE level. The emotional subject matter of the novel encourages learners to develop personal responses and explore writer’s purpose in more depth. The historical context of this novel (World War One) provides a good foundation for the study of another World War One text (‘Journey’s End in Year 10) as well as introducing learners to the key concepts and themes explored in the GCSE Conflict anthology. 

‘War Horse’ is, in many respects, a coming of age novel and exposes learners to themes such as loss, friendship, loyalty and compassion through the experiences of a thirteen-year-old boy.  This also unit provides teachers with the opportunity to explore the morality and ethical nature of war and encourages learners to make links between a pivotal event in British history and wars around the world today.

unit overview - spring term

Subject: English Year 8 Term Two – Gothic Unit – ‘Frankenstein’ by Phillip Pullman

Skills

Reading Skills

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

Writing Skills

Descriptive WritingLearners will be able to use vocabulary effectively to describe a gothic setting. They will be able to use a range of language devices in their own work, with focus on the use of pathetic fallacy. Learners will be able to write in paragraphs using punctuation (full stops, capital letters, commas and semi-colons) for effect. Learners will able to use a range of sentence types for effect.

Knowledge

Reading

Learners will need to know:

  • Conventions of the Gothic genre (including setting, characters, themes and conventional plots)
  • Key vocabulary related to the genre (see K.O.)
  • Character types – protagonist and antagonist
  • Key features/terminology of a play – audience, stage directions, dialogue, staging, monologue, asides
  • Purpose of prologue and epilogue
  • Subject terminology to identify language (adjective, verb, noun, adverb, simile, metaphor, personification, pathetic fallacy, specific sentence types)
  • The concept of setting and atmosphere
  • The concept of a quotation from a play
  • Foreshadowing and tension
  • The plot of a full-length play and its key characters, settings and themes.

Writing

Learners will need to know:

  • Conventional settings used in the Gothic genre
  • Key vocabulary related to the genre (see K.O.)
  • The concept  punctuation marks are used (commas, semi-colons)
  • The reasons why paragraphs are used
  • The reasons why language devices are used (focus on use of pathetic fallacy)
  • The reasons why different sentence types are used (complex, minor sentences)

Rationale

This unit introduces learners to the reading of a play, providing the foundation for reading two plays at GCSE. The teaching of a play in its entirety enables learners to engage fully with the plot, themes and characters of a different type of fiction text. The Gothic genre is also a favourite amongst learners, exploring a range of engaging and complex themes and concepts such as the supernatural, morality and religion. Furthermore, the Gothic genre provides necessary challenge, exposing learners to a more sophisticated range of vocabulary and devices. The unit will also provide a foundation for approaching texts from similar eras using similar styles including ‘Oliver Twist’ and ‘A Christmas Carol’ and those including Gothic elements such as ‘Macbeth’.

The play adaptation of the novel ‘Frankenstein’, 1ith it’s iconic characters and simple, yet engaging, plot, proves to be an effective text to teach high order skills and concepts needed at GCSE. In particular, the learners are exposed to various devices (including pathetic fallacy) used to create setting and atmosphere. This enables teachers to explicitly teach the identification of these and to comment on their effect. This is a key reading skill (AO2) that learners will be required to master in order to succeed at KS3 and is heavily assessed in both Language and Literature. Further to this, the analysis of these devices develops learners’ own writing skills, encouraging them to think about their language choices and also begin to acquire and develop their vocabulary, particularly to establish effective setting and atmosphere in their own descriptive writing, an integral component in the GCSE Language course.

This play also exposes learners to range of topical issues in our current world such as the risks associated with technological advancement and prejudice. Learners will have the opportunity to discuss and debate these issues, encouraging them to reflect on the nature of the world around them and how they can effectively contribute to their society. Furthermore, the characterisation of the monster and his turbulent relationship with other characters often elicits an emotive reaction from the audience, thus enabling learners to develop a genuine and empathetic personal response to the play, as required in the criteria at GCSE.

unit overview - summer term

Subject: English Year 8 Term Three – Dickens – ‘Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens

Skills

Reading Skills

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

Writing Skills

Writing an opinion articleLearners 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 an opinion article. 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.

Knowledge

Reading

Learners will need to know:

  • Concept of historical context
  • Key events of Dickens’ life
  • Concept of social class
  • Life in Victorian Britain (Industrial Revolution, Social Class, Poverty, Workhouses)
  • Key vocabulary related to the Dickensian context and texts (see K.O.)
  • Character types – protagonist and antagonist
  • Key features/terminology of a Dickensian novel
  • Subject terminology to identify language (adjective, verb, noun, adverb, simile, metaphor, personification, specific sentence types)
  • The concept of characterisation
  • The concept of a quotation

Writing

Learners will need to know:

  • The concept of persuasive writing
  • The concept of purpose, audience and form
  • The concept of an opinion article and key features
  •  A range of persuasive and rhetorical devices (emotive language, anecdotes)
  • The concept of an introduction and conclusion
  • The concept of paragraphs and discourse markers
  • Key vocabulary related to the historical context (see K.O.)
  • The reasons why punctuation marks are used (exclamation marks, question marks)
  • The reasons why language devices are used (emotive language, anecdotes)
  • The reasons why different sentence types are used

Rationale

This unit introduces learners to Dickensian context, style and language, providing the foundation for the reading of ‘A Christmas Carol’ at KS4. Study of a classic novel from the 19th century, will not only build confidence in accessing more challenging Literature texts in Year 9/KS4, but also expose learners to a more sophisticated style of writing that will develop confidence when analysing unseen extracts as part of the English Language course. Furthermore, a thorough engagement with the historical context, will help learners to understand the importance of time and place of texts and also support the understanding of Dickens at KS4. Learner will be

‘Oliver Twist’, whilst a challenging text, includes a range of iconic and memorable characters. The protagonist, ‘Oliver’, a young boy facing adverse circumstances, serves to inspire and engage, whilst highlighting the importance of qualities such as resilience and determination. The study of his character also contributes to developing learners’ personal response to a text, often evoking sympathy due to his circumstances. Additionally, the learners will analyse the characterisation of Fagin, identifying specific language features and commenting on the effect of these. This is a key reading skill (AO2) that learners will be required to master in order to succeed at KS3 and is heavily assessed in both Language and Literature.

This text also introduces the learners to a range of complex concepts including social class and philanthropy that will be central to Literature texts studied at KS4. These concepts remain relevant in our society today, thus contributing to their moral and emotional development. The learners will discuss and debate the treatment of the impoverished in the Victorian Era (using ‘Oliver Twist’ and other non-fiction texts to support) to produce an opinion article expressing their point of view on the issue, using a range of persuasive devices. This will develop skills needed to access Section B of Language Paper 2 at KS4.  

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.