Curriculum Vision


The English Department at St Michael’s is fully committed to ensuring that every student makes progress. The team instils in students an understanding of the importance of the subject, generating creativity alongside teaching essential skills to ensure that students understand the power of language. Enjoyment and adapting the curriculum to suit the needs of individual cohorts helps drive curriculum change and adaptation year on year. Beyond the curriculum, the department is committed to nurturing a love of reading and helping students to develop an understanding of their place in the world.

Our curriculum will provide our students with:

  • Opportunities to discover our literary cultural heritage in conjunction with an awareness of its impact upon modern modes of thought and expression. Students will explore the power of the word in a variety of genres and time periods.
  • Opportunities to discover their own place within our shared culture and to make explicit some of those links in the chain of thought that have led to our modern entertainment, principles, philosophies and national identity.
  • The understanding that we can and should make predictions about any text (both fiction and non-fiction) by asking a set of initial questions and becoming our own theorists. It will provide students with the powerful knowledge that can too often be hidden from view and in doing so help to make the implicit, explicit.
  • The knowledge that there are a set of fundamental universal and timeless themes/ideas that influence the intentions of writers and this spans the entire chronology of literary canon including what will become the canon of the future as these ideas/themes transcend the boundaries of time. E.g. Class divide, abuse of power, gender boundaries and inequality. The span of study will allow students to understand the development of English within its national context and the British values that canonical writings have shaped.
  • An understanding that they too are connected to these universal and timeless themes/ideas and this can inform their own personal responses to a text and have an impact on their view of the world.
  • An ability to acquire a control over language (both written and spoken) so that they can discover the potential power it can have and can give. They will explore the nature of our language, its connotations, universal symbolisms and signification with which we, and the creators of culture, communicate.
  • An exploration of intertextuality – an empowering element of our shared cultural capital.


Learning is embedded through the development of knowledge and skills over time and through overlapping concepts and skills through a blended curriculum for Language and Literature in KS3 and then a more subject-specific curriculum in KS4. Assessments combine stand-alone and cumulative assessments in order to assess what skills have

been developed throughout the year. A series of formative, standardised assessments allow for an accurate picture of performance across the subject and the adaptation of schemes to react to the data gathered from these assessments. Progression is mapped against school-based targets and the evaluation of current cohorts (in relation to KS2 data) provides opportunities for reworking and reshaping the curriculum for the needs of each new cohort. Adapted and differentiated schemes and texts allow for effective differentiation, marking and feedback and stretch for more-able students through STAR challenges, text choices and higher level schemes of work.


By the end of KS3, pupils will have experienced a wide selection of texts and writing styles from across the canon and our shared linguistic milieu. Pupils will be able to comment upon the effect of language, its purpose and intent, effectively evaluate the successes and demerits of linguistic and figurative devices and offer sophisticated interpretations of writers’ messages. Furthermore, pupils will be able to understand texts within the historical and cultural context in which they were composed and explore the allegorical teachings of those texts and how their social, moral, cultural, and spiritual messages may impact upon the reader.

In addition to the cultural impact of their learning, pupils will be able to compose analytical essays that interpret metaphors and their wider allegorical implications, write for specific purposes and for a wide range of audiences by constructing creative and entertaining texts.

By the end of KS4, pupils will be able to apply a set of analytical, evaluative and interpretive skills to a varied range of texts. Pupils will have a secure understanding of the role of context in the production of texts and how the linguistic content is conceived with a set of specific purposes and intents. In addition to the acquisition of cultural capital, pupils will gain the ability to approach both their English Language and Literature examinations with a deeper awareness of the requirements of the assessment criteria and will be able to confidently tackle texts with which they have not been previously acquainted. Overall, the cumulative impact of skills acquired at KS3 and KS4 will enable pupils to confidently engage with the linguistic world that they inhabit and effectively manage the demands of their summative examinations in Year 11.

Curriculum Journey

Curriculum SMSC & British Values

SMSC and the Curriculum

The English Department at St Michael’s is proud to offer a range of Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural experiences through English lessons and extra-curricular activities. Our curriculum allows students to extend their spiritual, moral, social and cultural appreciation and understanding of society. Students express their creativity and understanding of other cultures through their study of literature and non-fiction texts which allow students to develop and showcase their skills, knowledge and experiences through SMSC in English. The English department teaches a range of literature that develops spiritual development through discussion and debate. For example, the study of the classic novel ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’, amongst others, encourages the discussion of the difference between good and evil, considering the impact of conscience. The study of texts like this gives students the opportunity to think about the consequences of right and wrong behaviour, applying this to their own lives. Creative writing and the study of poetry gives students the opportunity to reflect on their own beliefs and helps them to establish their own relationship with language. Writing is expressive and allows for a reflective process and the freedom to be creative and experiment.


Spiritual development in English 

At St Michael’s Church of England High School, we encourage all students to reflect on the things that are most important to us in our school community. Students may have a religious outlook or they may prefer a humanist approach, either way, we encourage the students to enjoy a common sense of well-being and fulfilment. Being spiritual can sometimes help us to achieve this.

The school symbol, which includes the Archangel St Michael’s wings, reflects both religious and humanist values and is integrated into the English Curriculum; MERCY, INITIATIVE, COURAGE and COMPASSION, HUMILITY, ACHIEVEMENT, ENTHUSIASM, LEADERSHIP and SERVICE. Spirituality and reflection can take place at any time in all areas of our school community.


  • English Yr10 & Yr11 GCSE texts – religious imagery and meaning (‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘Silas Marner’).
  • English Yr8: Speechwriting and rhetoric – self – worth.
  • English Yr7: ‘Refugee Boy’/’Of Mice and Men’ – reflection, self-worth and history.
  • English Yr10: Conflict Poetry – an increased sense of identity.
  • English Yr7: Discovery curriculum – an increased sense of identity, understanding of diverse groups.
  • English Yr9: Jekyll and Hyde – a sense of identity, good versus evil, the duality of human nature.

Moral development in English

In Year 7, we teach a Discovery curriculum which encourages moral thinking through the recognition of values such as goodwill, humility and kindness. Students are able to analyse character and events to explore the consequences of negative actions through a range of different text types. During the study of fiction, students are given the opportunity to consider different perspectives and empathise with other characters. For instance, the study of Zephaniah’s ‘Refugee Boy’ poses a range of topics and themes for debate such as racism and prejudice. 

Class readers studied at Year 7 and Year 8 deal with moral questions, such as race, homelessness, alcoholism, sexism, giving students the opportunity to produce their own writing on complex moral issues. Writing non-fiction texts such as newspaper articles, leaflets, reports and reviews help to develop students’ ability to apply fiction to real-life scenarios.


  • English Yr8: Rhetoric and speech-writing – social class division and prejudice
  • English Yr8: Shakespeare unit – ‘The Tempest’– exploring choices made – moral values
  • English Yr11: Shakespeare unit – ‘Macbeth’/’Romeo and Juliet’ – exploring choices made – moral values
  • English Yr7: Discovery curriculum – exploring choices made – moral values
  • English Yr10: ‘An Inspector Calls’ – prejudice; social values
  • English Yr10:  ‘A Curious Incident’ – prejudice; difference
  • English Yr8: ‘Of Mice and Men’, Steinbeck/Heroes – discrimination; social values
  • English Yrs 7– 11: Speaking and Listening discussions and debates on topical issues
  • English Yr11:  media and non-fiction unit – how different genders and cultures are portrayed in the media through a variety of extracts.

Social development is English

English lessons promote co-operation and teamwork through being able to work in groups, listening to each other and asking questions. Real issues encourage students to think about the world outside of school and give opinions on topics that may affect them in the future, for example, imagining it has been proposed that a new supermarket is to be built in the local area (non-fiction writing). Students are required to take on a role and argue a point of view. 

We also give students the opportunity to speak in different contexts and regarding a range of different real-life issue, applying learning to careers and life after school. Peer assessment is an integral part of our teaching and we encourage focused feedback between students, whereby they support and encourage each other, reflecting and giving advice using their own method for success. Students are all given the opportunity to be independent, self-reliant and responsible for their own learning. Debate is an important aspect of the subject, giving logical arguments with respect, rationality and thoughtfulness. 


  • English Yrs7 – 11: Speaking and Listening – group discussions and presentations; drama role play and hot seating – team learning.
  • English Yr8: ‘Of Mice and Men’ – social values and theme of power within society.
  • English Yr10: ‘An Inspector Calls’/’A Curious Incident’– social values; theme of power/inequality within society.

Cultural development in English

Students learn about respecting others through the study of poetry from different cultures. These are taught in both Year 7 and for GCSE. Many poems deal with conditions faced by those in impoverished or less fortunate situations. Students are able to appreciate a range of different cultures and empathise. The study of Victorian Literature gives opportunities for students to appreciate British history and culture.  Speaking and listening activities promote the opportunity to share their own experiences and appreciate other students’ perspectives and experiences. Theatre trips and visits give all students the opportunity to access cultural activity alongside the viewing of DVDs of plays in performance, which otherwise some students may not have the opportunity to experience. The department is a member of the RSC so we have access to live performance streaming.


  • English Yr10 and Yr11 – Literary Heritage Poetry – understanding different cultures and experiences.
  • English Yr8: ‘Of Mice and Men’, Steinbeck/Heroes – understanding American contemporary culture and context.
  • English Year 11: ‘An Inspector Calls’ – historical, social and cultural context of the play
  • English Yr10 and Yr11 – media and non-fiction – how different cultures are portrayed in media texts.

British values and the English curriculum

Behaviour in class 

Effective learning takes place in English as there is tolerance and mutual respect established through high standards of behaviour. All students behave with tolerance and mutual respect of others.  By maintaining these standards of behaviour in class, teachers within the English Department promote British values.

The Law and Democracy 

English at all levels provides opportunities for discussions which focus on both democracy and the rule of law. Texts are chosen for their opportunities to allow students to explore the issue of rule of law and equally they are chosen to refer to issues around democracy. Students are introduced to a range of texts and types of writing. This includes media articles referring to aspects of the democratic process such as members of the public making a peaceful protest including petitions and letter writing to local politicians (Year 8 speech writing and Rhetoric scheme). Political texts are analysed for persuasive language. Television, social media including blogs and radio reports are analysed to show how persuasive techniques and language are used to present or manipulate the reader, viewer or listener. This supports students in developing a critical analysis of all forms of media and to build resilience to resist exploitation by those who may want to take advantage of vulnerable individuals. 

Individual Liberty 

Students explore individual liberty through a study of texts, audio and video. English gives numerous opportunities to explore individual liberty as a concept and as part of British values. Students explore individual freedom by discussing their options after completing their courses. This provides an opportunity to refer to individual liberty to make choices in terms of progressing in education or future careers. This can be through writing informative texts or through discussions.

Topics in English are not intended to stop students debating controversial ideas. If students make comments which could be regarded as controversial, staff encourage the students to think critically, to consider whether the evidence they have is accurate and full, to consider whether they have received a partial and/or unsustainable interpretation of evidence and to consider alternative interpretations and views. Staff use opportunities to challenge controversial narratives through discussion with students. If staff do not feel confident in challenging controversial ideas with their students, they should ask for support. This would be through the DSL.

If students behave in a way which contravenes the equality and diversity aspects of the code of conduct which they have signed when becoming a member of St Michael’s then this is a disciplinary issue e.g. refusing to work with a student of different ethnicity, sexuality or gender. This is dealt with through normal disciplinary processes. 

Democracy, tolerance and mutual respect 

The process of facilitating classroom debates promotes democracy as they allow all opinions to be heard in a respectful way. This will reinforce the concept of democracy. Both texts, audio or videos, written tasks and discussions which take place all present opportunities to discuss or write about topics which relate to democracy. Individual liberty, group and one to one discussions and the use of materials may give the opportunity to discuss the extent of individual liberty. Students will often explore aspects of their own lives and the extent to which they have and use their freedoms. This can be in relation to fiction and non-fiction texts. Studying texts where the communities have limited democratic rights allows for discussions to take place and it can be used to inspire writing.

In English, there are frequently opportunities to discuss tolerance and mutual respect through discussions and the choice of materials which are studied.  Good working relationships in the classroom or the workplace for apprentices promote effective learning. These are based on mutual respect and tolerance.

Options Information

Qualification Name English Language
Exam Board Edexcel
Type (e.g. GCSE/BTEC Certificate) GCSE
Level (1,2 or both)
GLH (Guided Learning Hours)
What do I need to know or be able to do before taking this course? The English Language course is a progression from the Year 9 curriculum and your teachers will be able to provide you with guidance as to your achievement in English and your potential grade.
Course Overview: English Language comprises of reading and writing tasks. You will study a range of fiction and non-fiction and media texts and write creatively. You will study a range a nineteenth-century fiction texts from Jane Eyre to Frankenstein. You will learn to independently read and analyse texts to comment on their effectiveness and their use of language and structure.

You will also study a range more modern non-fiction texts ranging from biographies to tales of expeditions. You will learn to independently read and analyse a range of text types to be able to evaluate and compare.

The course will also develop your understanding of how to write for a range of different purposes.

What is the course content and how is it assessed? You are required to read and understand a range of non-fiction texts,

identifying the writers’ crafts and transferring these skills into their own writing for a range of genres, audiences and purposes.

Paper 1—Fiction and imaginative writing (1 hour 45 min. exam)

Paper 2—Non-fiction and transactional writing (2 hours 5 min. exam)

What kind of work will I need to do outside lessons? You will need to complete all homework tasks set by your class teacher (reading and writing tasks). It is also desirable that you read as many fiction and non-fiction texts such as short stories and novels from the 19th Century to contemporary writers and also quality newspapers and magazines in your own time. You may be required to attend additional sessions to support your progress in English Language.
What could I go on to do at the end of my course/possible careers and Further Education: English Language is essential for all college courses where 4 is a mini- mum requirement. Anyone hoping to attend university in the future, regardless of the subject, must have achieved at least a 5 at GCSE.

Exam Specification

English Language KS4 Specification

English Literature KS4 Specification