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English

 


Though Aston's English curriculum prepares students for the demands of GCSE and A Level, it also enhances and moves beyond these examinations by enabling our learners to be:

  • imaginative, articulate and reflective as well as confident and secure in their thoughts, opinions and expression;
  •  focused, engaging and nuanced communicators in spoken and written word;
  • inspired to explore complex ideas and material; · resilient when faced with challenges; and
  • sensitive to the moral, spiritual and emotional experiences prompted by the subject.

They will experience learning activities that:

  • have pace and challenge;
  • provide a healthy combination of independent and collaborative work;
  • give them ample opportunity to speak in front of others;
  • give them the time and space to write independently;
  • endow them with a sophisticated vocabulary; and 
  • are academically rigorous and personally challenging.

Staff:

  • Mr C Laverty, Head of Department
  • Mrs A Hussain
  • Mrs S Long
  • Ms E Searles
  • Mr M Smith
  • Mr R Shotton

Trips and Visits:

  • BBC Birmingham at The Mailbox in conjunction with the BBC Young Reporter competition
  • Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
  • Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford
  • Birmingham Repertory Theatre
  • The Crescent Theatre
  • Next Generation Awards at various universities
  • Poetry Live

Year 7

Summary of curriculum:

In year 7, we ensure that students make an effective transition from primary English by introducing essay writing skills and developing extended writing by diversifying the range of forms pupils will be encouraged to adapt to. Students will learn the PETAL (Point, Evidence, Technique, Analysis, Link to focus) approach to analytical paragraphs.

Main topics:
  • Autobiographical writing
  • Different cultures poetry
  • Superheroes and Greek myths
  • Scare tactics: writing in the horror genre
  • BBC Young Reporter
  • Public speaking
  • Shakespeare stories
  • Animal Farm novel study
Assessment throughout the year:
  • Three progress assessments on the Star Reading application to ascertain reading age in relation to actual age. 
  • Spoken language will be assessed by taking into account a pupil’s performance in the BBC Young Reporter group activity and his individual speech in the public speaking competition. 
  • Three writing common assessment tasks: an autobiographical piece (usually an amusing childhood anecdote), a superhero origin story or myth and a horror narrative that builds tension and suspense.
  • Two reading common assessment tasks: a comparison of two different cultures poems and an essay response to a question related to the Animal Farm novel study. 
How parents can support their son’s learning:
  • Students should be reading for leisure between twenty-five and thirty minutes per day; parents can check that this is happening and also use Renaissance Home Connect to view the books that have been read – they will appear on a digital bookshelf on the site. 
  • Pupils will also be reading a class reader every half-term which has an accompanying independent reading booklet which should be filled in chapter by chapter. 
  • Students could keep a journal to develop writing skills and their own writing personal style. 
  • Quality newspapers such as The Guardian or The Times could be purchased to enable students to familiarise themselves with non-fiction texts and develop an interest in a range of written genres such as travel, technology and politics. 
Able and inspired opportunities:
  • Junior debating.
  • Take on the reading challenge by reading the books displayed in the English corridor and writing a post-it-note review to receive an achievement point .
  • Contribute an article or piece of creative writing to the school magazine. 
  • Research the life of Arthur Miller, the playwright studied at the end of the year, by reading articles online or in magazines about him. Pupils could also read his autobiography Timebends
  • Research the lives of the WWI poets, including Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon: there have been numerous books and articles written about these fascinating figures 
  • Teach a lesson or deliver a presentation
Useful websites:

 

Year 8

Summary of curriculum: Students will build on the skills learnt in year 7 and apply them in more challenging responses. Pupils will learn how to evaluate texts such as Shakespeare’s Tempest by considering a psychoanalytical critical lens and they will explore themes in the novel study that will encourage lateral thinking. The Picture Speaks a Thousand Words project uses iconic paintings to stimulate creative writing which is a pathway to how students will respond in the descriptive/narrative writing section of the GCSE English Language examination. 
Main topics:
  • Persuasive writing 
  • Poetry in music 
  • Doctor Who radio script 
  • Sci-fi and dystopian literature 
  • Next Generation awards 
  • Public speaking 
  • The Tempest 
  • A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words 
  • The Knife of Never Letting GoOliver Twist or Noughts and Crosses novel study 
Assessment throughout the year:
  • Three progress assessments on the Star Reading application to ascertain reading age in relation to actual age.
  • Spoken language will be assessed by taking into account a pupil’s performance in the Next Generation and Music in Poetry group activities and his individual speech in the public speaking competition. 
  • Two writing common assessment tasks: a persuasive letter and a creative piece responding to visual stimulus.
  • Three reading common assessment tasks: a conceptualised evaluation of The Tempest, an essay in response to a dystopian extract (usually from Never Let Me Go) and a question related to the selected novel's study.
How parents can support their son’s learning:
  • Students should be reading for leisure between twenty-five and thirty minutes per day; parents can check that this is happening and also use Renaissance Home Connect to view the books that have been read – they will appear on a digital bookshelf on the site. 
  • Pupils will also be reading a class reader every half term which has an accompanying independent reading booklet which should be filled in chapter by chapter. 
  • Students could keep a journal to develop writing skills and their own writing personal style. 
  • Quality newspapers such as The Guardian or The Times could be purchased to enable students to familiarise themselves with non-fiction texts and develop an interest in a range of written genres such as travel, technology and politics. 
Able and inspired opportunities:
  • Junior debating. 
  • Take on the reading challenge by reading the books displayed in the English corridor and writing a post-it-note review to receive an achievement point. 
  • Contribute an article or piece of creative writing to the school magazine. 
  • Research the life of Arthur Miller, the playwright studied at the end of the year, by reading articles online or in magazines about him. Pupils could also read his autobiography Timebends
  • Research the lives of the WW1 poets, including Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon – there have been numerous books and articles written about these fascinating figures.
  • Teach a lesson or deliver a presentation.
Useful websites:

 

Year 9

Summary of curriculum:

Year 9 English lays down important foundations for the GCSE course. Travel, satirical and review writing will challenge students to learn and apply more nuanced writing conventions and develop a sophisticated personal style. Arthur Miller’s plays will familiarise pupils with the impact of a writer’s political views on the literary text produced (in the context of his investigation by McCarthy’s un-American Committee, and the cultural context of the American Dream). The WWI poetry unit will provide context for the study of the Power and Conflict anthology at GCSE. 

Main topics:
  • Travel writing 
  • WWI poetry 
  • Comedy writing 
  • Of Mice and Men novel study 
  • Computer game pitch 
  • Public speaking 
  • Romeo and Juliet 
  • Film, TV, music and computer game reviews 
  • The Crucible or Death of a Salesman drama study 
Assessment throughout the year:
  • Spoken language will be assessed by taking into account a pupil’s performance in the computer game pitch group activity and his individual speech in the public speaking competition.
  • Two writing common assessment tasks: a satirical piece; and either a film, TV, album or computer game review. 
  • Three reading common assessment tasks: a comparison of two WW1 poems ('Dulce et Decorum' and 'In Flanders Fields'); an evaluative response to Of Mice and Men and a conceptualised essay to a question related to the drama study of either The Crucible or Death of a Salesman
How parents can support their son’s learning:
  • Students should be reading for leisure between twenty-five and thirty minutes per day; parents can check that this is happening at home. 
  • Pupils will also be reading a class reader every half-term which has an accompanying independent reading booklet which should be filled in chapter by chapter. The texts that students will read include To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies1984Kestrel for a Knave and Great Expectations
  • Students could keep a journal to develop writing skills and their own writing personal style. Another resource that stimulates interesting creative writing responses are the 642/712 Things to Write About books available on Amazon. 
  • Quality newspapers such as The Guardian or The Times could be purchased to enable students to familiarise themselves with non-fiction texts and develop an interest in a range of written genres such as travel, technology and politics. 
Able and inspired opportunities:
  • Junior debating 
  • Take on the reading challenge by reading the books displayed in the English corridor and writing a post-it-note review to receive an achievement point 
  • Contribute an article or piece of creative writing to the school magazine 
  • Research the life of Arthur Miller, the playwright studied at the end of the year, by reading articles online or in magazines about him. Pupils could also read his autobiography Timebends
  • Research the lives of the WW1 poets, including Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon – there have been numerous books and articles written about these fascinating figures. 
  • Teach a lesson or deliver a presentation.
Useful websites:

 

Year 10

Summary of curriculum:

The majority of the GCSE content will be taught in year 10 with several opportunities built into the curriculum for students to demonstrate progress. At the beginning of a unit, pupils will be guided on how to respond to various demands of the GCSE tasks. They will then have a mid-point assessment to address misconceptions or issues with particular assessment objectives before having an end of unit test to determine a predicted GCSE grade. 

Main topics:
  • Creative writing (English Language, Paper 1 Section B) 
  • Power and Conflict poetry 
  • An Inspector Calls 
  • Spoken language 
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 
  • English Language, Paper 1 Section A preparation 
Assessment throughout the year:
  • June mock examination. 
  • Spoken language will be assessed on his individual speech in the public speaking competition; the performance will be awarded with either a GCSE pass, merit or distinction grade. 
  • Each unit will have a maximum of three assessment points to enable students to show progress. There will be an end of unit assessment to determine a predicted GCSE grade. 
How parents can support their son’s learning:
  • There are now a range of assessment materials online that students can attempt at home. 
  • Parents wanting to invest in revision materials should consider workbooks over guides as active learning is the most effective approach to preparing for examinations. The English department offer parents the opportunity to purchase CGP revision materials at a better than half price discount in September/October in years 10 and 11. 
  • Students should continue to read between 25 and 30 minutes per day.  
  • They should aim to read a combination of fiction and non-fiction texts. It is recommended that they should read quality newspapers such as The Guardian and The Times to familiarise themselves with the type of texts used in the English language examination. 
  • Students could keep a journal to develop writing skills and their own writing personal style. Another resource that stimulates interesting creative writing responses are the 642/712 Things to Write About books available on Amazon. 
Able and inspired opportunities:
  • Participation in the Speak Out Challenge in the summer term. 
  • Junior debating.
  • Take on the reading challenge by reading the books displayed in the English corridor and writing a post-it-note review to receive an achievement point. 
  • Contribute an article or piece of creative writing to the school magazine. 
  • Read other works by the writers studied in Year 10: J B Priestley and Robert Louis Stevenson as well as by poets such as Shelley, Blake and Wordsworth. 
  • Teach a lesson or deliver a presentation.
Useful websites:

 

Year 11

Summary of curriculum:

In year 11, students will be afforded the opportunity to refine their GCSE responses. With the majority of content taught in year 10, students will be in a position to respond to extracts by referring to the wider text. There will be an onus on essay and response structure in order to target assessment objectives and work within tight time constraints. 

Main topics:
  • Writing to argue, persuade and advise (English Language, Paper 2 Section B). 
  • Macbeth 
  • English Language, Paper 2 Section A.
  • Unseen poetry.
  • Revision of year 10 content and refining of examination technique.
Assessment throughout the year:
  • December's mock examination. 
  • Each unit will have a maximum of three assessment points to enable students to show progress. There will be an end of unit assessment to determine a predicted GCSE grade. 
  • In the revision period, students will be producing an assessed piece every week which will either be self, peer or teacher marked. 
How parents can support their son’s learning:
  • There are now a range of assessment materials online that students can attempt at home. 
  • Parents wanting to invest in revision materials should consider workbooks over guides as active learning is the most effective approach to preparing for examinations. The English department offers parents the opportunity to purchase CGP revision materials at a better than half-price discount in September/October in year 11.  
  • Students should continue to read between twenty-five and thirty minutes per day. They should aim to read a combination of fiction and non-fiction texts. It is recommended that they should read quality newspapers such as The Guardian and The Times to familiarise themselves with the type of texts used in the English language examination. 
  • Students could keep a journal to develop writing skills and their own writing personal style. Another resource that stimulates interesting creative writing responses are the 642/712 Things to Write About books available on Amazon. 
Able and inspired opportunities:
  • Junior debating 
  • Take on the reading challenge by reading the books displayed in the English corridor and writing a post-it-note review to receive an achievement point 
  • Contribute an article or piece of creative writing to the school magazine 
  • Read critical works focusing on Macbeth and tragic conventions such as Lilly B. Campbell’s  Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroes 
  • Teach a lesson or deliver a presentation
Useful websites:

 

Year 12

Summary of curriculum:

During year 12, we ensure that students make an effective transition from GCSE English to the demands of A Level by modelling how to respond to tasks focusing on elements of tragedy. The curriculum aims to enable students to write confidently on methods employed by writers and to embed quotations to demonstrate perceptive understanding of the whole text. Students will also learn to apply a range of critical lenses including Marxist, feminist and post-colonial viewpoints. 

Main topics:
  • Elements of tragedy: OthelloRichard II and The Great Gatsby.
  • Applying Marxist, feminist and post-colonial critical lenses. 
  • Independent prose coursework. 
Assessment throughout the year:

Students will submit one essay per fortnight which will be assessed. Feedback up to the completion of content will place an onus on targets to help pupils improve their work. Once the content of the texts has been completed, work will be awarded a working at A Level grade. Every half term, students will be assessed in examination conditions on one or more section of a paper.

How parents can support their son’s learning:
  • Parents may wish to invest in support materials such as the AQA English Literature B textbook edited by Adrian Beard and published by Oxford University Press; however, it should be noted that the resource is no substitute for the notes taken and essays completed by students. 
  • Parents could also listen to and read essays to give advice on style and clarity. 
  • Parents could take their son to the theatre or cinema to see adaptations of studied texts, other works by studied authors and/or plays or films in the crime and tragedy genres.   
Able and inspired opportunities:
  • Wider reading of challenging and highly regarded literary texts 
  • Senior debating and participation in Oxford, Cambridge and Debating Matters competitions.
  • Participate in the EPQ initiative and select a genre, theme or writer to research and write about. 
  • Take part in the paired reading scheme by working with a year 7 or 8 pupil whose reading age is below the norm to help them improve. 
  • Teach a lesson or deliver a presentation. 

Students could read a selection of the following of critical studies of Othello

  • Wain, John, Shakespeare: Othello (Casebooks Series)  
  • Bradley, A C, Shakespearean Tragedy
  • Orlin, Lena Cowen, Othello (New Casebooks)
  • Novy, Marianne, Shakespeare and Outsiders (Oxford Shakespeare Topics)
  • Brown, John Russell,  Shakespeare: The Tragedies
  • Campbell, Lily B, Shakespeare's Tragic Heroes
  • Lawlor, John, The Tragic Sense in Shakespeare
  • Lerner, Laurence, Shakespeare's Tragedies
  • Holloway, John, The Story of the Night: Studies in Shakespeare's Major Tragedies (Routledge)  
  • Ackroyd, Peter, Shakespeare: The Biography  
  • Bryson, Bill, Shakespeare 
  • Greenblatt, Stephen, Will in the World: How Shakespeare became Shakespeare
  • Scott, Mark W, Shakespeare for Students 
  • Heilman, Robert B, Shakespeare: The Tragedies 
Useful websites:

 

Year 13

Summary of curriculum:

In year 13, students will submit both their prose and poetry independent coursework studies and they will focus primarily on elements of crime fiction in the first term. After the February half-term, students will revise content studied in year 12, refine their examination technique and hone areas that may still require attention. 

Main topics:
  • Independent poetry coursework 
  • Elements of crime fiction: unseen response; the selected poems of Crabbe, Browning and Wilde, When Will There Be Good News? and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd 
Assessment throughout the year: Students will continue to submit one essay per fortnight which will be given a working at A Level grade. Every half term, students will be assessed in examination conditions on one or more section of a paper. 
How parents can support their son’s learning:
  • Parents may wish to invest in support materials such as the AQA English Literature B textbook edited by Adrian Beard and published by Oxford University Press; however, it should be noted that the resource is no substitute for the notes taken and essays completed by students. 
  • Parents could also listen to and read essays to give advice on style and clarity. 
  • Parents could take their son to the theatre or cinema to see adaptations of studied texts, other works by studied authors and/or plays and films in the crime and tragedy genres.   
Able and inspired opportunities:
  • Wider reading of crime fiction as well as challenging literature. 
  • Senior debating and participation in Oxford, Cambridge and Debating Matters competitions. 
  • Participate in the EPQ initiative and select a genre, theme or writer to research and write about. 
  • Take part in the paired reading scheme by working with a Year 7 or 8 pupil whose reading age is below the norm to help them improve.  
  • Teach a lesson or deliver a presentation. 
Useful websites: