Year 7, 8 and 9

The focus of KS3 is to develop a love for and understanding of reading; a confidence and proficiency in writing for different audiences and purposes and respond reflectively to the written word. These skills are foundational for success in all of their GCSE and A level subjects, and for life itself. Each term provides a range of reading and writing opportunities under titled thematic units including ‘Fantasy’, ‘Crime and Punishment’, ‘Modern American Fiction’, ‘War and Conflict’ and ‘Heroes and Villains’.


In Years 7, 8 and 9 learners explore a wide variety of texts which are updated constantly and include:

  • Contemporary novels such as ‘Coraline,’ ‘War Horse’ and ‘Of Mice and Men’.
  • Classics such as ‘Oliver Twist’ and ‘Sherlock Holmes’
  • Non-fiction texts such as ‘Touching the Void’ as well as extracts from travel journals, newspaper and magazine articles, leaflets and promotional materials.
  • Poems from ‘The Canon’ such as Shakespeare’s sonnets about love and Browning’s murderous monologues. The WW1 poetry of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon is studied and other British writers also feature heavily in the new curriculum.
  • Contemporary poets such as Carol Anne Duffy; as well as poems from the wider world of English such as Imtiaz Dharkar, Grace Nichols and Ridjal Noor.
  • The study of language in terms of the society we live in and the issues of power and identity which are often expressed in written texts are also examined. Therefore, both contextual and cultural understanding is always considered to illuminate the literature studied.  Learners are introduced to the study of Shakespeare through a selection of extracts from the comedy and historic genre in Year 7 including ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘Julius Caesar’ leading onto a close study of ‘Macbeth’ in Years 8. With our proximity to the Globe, we ensure that Year 9s have the opportunity to visit the theatre and see a Shakespeare play performed. In 2017, we are booked to see ‘Romeo and Juliet’, 2014 ‘The Merchant of Venice’ and in 2015 ‘Othello’.


Despite speaking and listening no longer being part of the assessment criteria for GCSE English Language, at HHS we believe that speaking and listening is vital in terms of learners progress and understanding. Through guided talk learners engage and develop skills intrinsic to the study of both language and literature. Opportunities for role play, discussion, individual presentation and the development of listening skills are embedded in our schemes of work and home learning projects. However, they are not formally assessed.  We believe that careful preparation for GCSE is fundamental if learners are to achieve or exceed their target grades; in consequence, Year 9s begin an introduction to GCSE English in Year 9. This course ‘shadows’ the GCSE programme introducing learners to the standards of reading and writing expected at GCSE; preparing them for assessment models they will be expected to master, while consolidating the Year 9 skills.

Assessment Year 7 Initial ‘baseline test’:

Early Start

Speaking and Listening

Learners’ skills as writers are honed both in response to the texts they read and in the production of their own imaginative and creative writing. These skills are further developed as part of KS3 homework, Opportunities are provided throughout the year to prepare for and enter external writing competitions and HHS students have achieved considerable success with one student travelling abroad to take part in the finals of a poetry competition.


  • All Year 7 learners are given an initial assessment using the baseline test issued by the GCSE boards (AQA Language) which are used for the new GCSE assessment.
  • The baseline assessment for the start of Year 7 will be given for Language – supplying us with a starting point for measuring progress, serving as a diagnostic to inform our teaching and introducing students to secondary study.

Year 7, 8 and 9 End of Year exams:

Formal End of Year exam. The (KS3) exams are designed and have been mapped to the requirements of the new GCSEs (9–1) in English Language. All learners will be awarded with a 9-1 GCSE grade based on an Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing Exam paper.

Termly assessment:

Extended Reading and Writing Tasks on the unit of work being studied are assessed each half term; the 9-1 progress ladder grades are awarded and for learners who are working towards the 9-1 ladder TR4, 5 ,6 grades are awarded to identify where a learner is and how they can reach the mainstream 9-1 ladder of progress.Classes at all key stages are set on their current attainment which allows for the differentiation of texts, materials and lesson pitch so that learners are placed where they have the appropriate level of both support and challenge.


Homework is designed to support and embed the skills needed to access and thrive in English. There is a focus on both accuracy and engagement.


  • Creative writing – A half termly creative writing task is planned at home and completed in class in exam conditions. This task is mapped to the requirements of the writing section in the AQA English Language exam. Development of these skills will ensure that learners are familiar with the format of the exam and are able to apply the skills confidently at KS4.
  • SPaG Doddle – The second homework involves a weekly SPaG on line assessment using ‘Doddle’, e.g adverbial clauses, apostrophe’s antonyms). Learners can access this software using school facilities or at home.

Teaching and learning

To help support learners understanding of the two different subjects and ultimately qualifications, each learner has a separate teacher and class for language and literature study from Year 9.

Years 10 and 11

All Year 10 and 11 students follow the 9-1 GCSE specifications. We offer two GCSE courses in English, Language and Literature, which will both be examined at the end of year 11. Students will gain grades 9-1 rather than the now historic/legacy A*-G. In addition, we offer an entry level qualification to further support learners where necessary.

GCSE English Language (AQA)

This course includes:

Paper one: Explorations in creative reading and writing. Students will read a literary non-fiction text and respond to this using inference skills in four set questions. The final question will be an extended essay style evaluative response. In the second part of the paper, students will write either a description or narrative based on a stimulus.

Paper two: Writer’s viewpoints and perspectives. Students will read one non-fiction and one literary non-fiction text and be asked to respond to this in a variety of inference based questions. In the second part of the paper, students will be asked to present a viewpoint in a non-fiction form.

Non-examination Speaking and Listening assessment. Students will be assessed for a separate certificate for spoken language and this will be examined by the class teacher. Learners will be expected to complete tasks to show their skills in: presenting, responding to questions as well as their use of Standard English. Although not contributing to the student’s 9-1 GCSE grade, students are awarded through the classification Distinction, Merit, Pass or Fail, a formal certificate from AQA. We find that the students not only enjoy this element of the course, which allows them to choose a topic independently to explore, but that both their reading and writing skills develop from the resources and skills used to complete this component.

This course includes:

GCSE English Literature (Edexcel)

Paper one – Shakespeare and post-1914 literature. Students will study Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and Sherriff’s “Journey’s End”. For the Shakespeare question, students will be asked to write two essays. One will be based on a short extract from the play and the second will be to explore a character, theme or relationship. For the “Journey’s End” question, students will be given a choice of two questions on characters, themes or relationships.

Paper two – 19th Century Novel and poetry since 1789. Students will study the novel “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, a themed anthology of poetry and unseen poetry. Firstly, students will be asked to answer two essay questions on the novel. One will be based on a short extract from the novel and the second will be to explore a character, theme or relationship. Secondly, students will be asked to compare two poems from the set anthology. Thirdly, students will be presented with two unseen poems and will be asked to compare the poems in an essay. GCSE Intervention To help support learners understanding of the two different qualifications, each learner has a separate teacher and class for language and literature study.    Learners who need extra support to enable them to access and be successful in the AQA GCSE Language also complete an AQA Entry level step up qualification to give further provision for them. What’s assessed –

Component 1: Literacy topics

This course includes:

AQA entry Level qualification – ‘STEP UP’

SPaG Doddle – The second homework involves a weekly SPaG on line assessment using ‘Doddle’, e.g adverbial clauses, apostrophe’s antonyms). Learners can access this software using school facilities or at home.

Profiles – Each half term homework focuses on a section of the GCSE examination. Learners are issued with a character or theme from an examined text e.g Stanhope in the play ‘Journey’s End’ and are required to complete their profile for a home study task each half term. This is designed to develop the knowledge and skills learners need to succeed in their end of year 11 exams.

Homework & Teaching and Learning

It is vital that all learners complete classwork and homework to the highest standard. Teaching is tailored to this outcome; but for learners who have found the skills difficult to master, they are given the opportunity to work in after school groups with staff to improve their grade with targeted skills.

Spoken Language Task, Reading Tasks, Writing Task

How it’s assessed – What’s assessed –

Component 2: Creative reading and writing

Reading & Creative writing

How it’s assessed –

•• Externally set non-exam assessment