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We believe that all students deserve a broad and ambitious English curriculum that inspires a love of the subject and promotes mastery of the reading, writing and verbal communication skills they will need to be successful in the modern world.  It is important to us that we develop the academic and cultural capital of all our students by giving them supported access to the best that has been written and said: enlightening them and removing barriers to achievement in school and employment. 

We strive to give our students: active and independent reading skills; accurate and compelling written language know-how and confidence in speaking as they move through Key Stage 3 into 4 and beyond.  The learning journey is sequenced carefully so that all students, as they gain knowledge and skills, will be revisiting and building upon what they have learned in earlier units and previous years.  It is this ‘spiral curriculum’ and our specialist teachers’ range of innovative methods that help students to remember and put to use what they have learned, as they progress. 

The texts that students are exposed to range from well-loved works from our literary heritage through to the best modern texts.  Each year students will have quality experience of canonical classics and marvellous modern prose, poetry, drama (including Shakespeare) and awe-inspiring non-fiction.   We also believe that it is vital that our curriculum exposes our learners to a range of voices, from backgrounds that may be different to their own.  It is this expanded world view that creates compassionate and intellectually engaged citizens of the world.

We aim to empower our students to have the ability to both construct and question meaning – this not only enhances their life chances but allows them to question and respond thoughtfully to what they see/hear and read.  Mastery of the English language is a powerful tool for success and our curriculum prepares our students for their post-16 career aspirations, whatever they may be.

Take a look at the English Learning Journey here. 

Teaching staff

  • Mr Ben Rew: Head of Department
  • Mrs Rebecca Meikle: KS3 Lead
  • Mrs Caroline Walding: KS4 Lead
  • Miss Darcy Williams: KS5 Lead
  • Mrs Amy Cannon
  • Mrs Florrie Cresswell
  • Miss Rachael Harries
  • Ms Julia Kelly
  • Miss Freya McLaughlin
  • Mrs Fiona Moore: Assistant Headteacher
  • Mrs Lucy Morgan 
  • Miss Olivia Phillips
  • Mrs Alex Rees
Key Stage 3 English  

At Key Stage 3, we aim to encourage students to explore their creativity, promote independent thought and inspire a life-long love of reading.

On arrival at John Kyrle High School, students are put into sets for English. Students’ Key Stage 2 results are used to inform this process. This is reviewed after the first half-term and at regular intervals throughout Key Stage 3.  Our aim is to ensure that all students are in the most suitable environment to enable them to succeed.

Our Key Stage 3 curriculum is strategically designed to build on their learning from Key Stage 2 and ensure that they are ready for success in Key Stage 4.  Each year builds their skills and increases the level of challenge.  Our curriculum is taught in termly units, based on a theme, with a different core text focus each half-term. Over each year, students will meet a range of challenging and engaging literary texts and build upon their skills in:

  • Fiction reading and writing
  • Non-fiction reading and writing
  • Modern drama
  • Poetry
  • Shakespeare
  • Speaking and Listening

In Year 7, students will study units with a focus on the power of words: Telling Tales, ‘Animal Farm’, Powerful Young Voices (non-fiction), Shakespeare’s World, ‘The Tempest’ and This is Me (poetry)

In Year 8, students will study units with a focus on the use of literary techniques and structure: Man vs. Nature (poetry), Our World (non-fiction), Gothic Literature (descriptive writing), ‘Jekyll and Hyde’, ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Ghost Boys’.

In Year 9, students will bring these skills together to study units with a focus on the theme of power and oppression: Power and Oppression in Society (non-fiction protest writing), ‘A View from the Bridge’, Power and Oppression poetry, ‘Lord of the Flies’, Problems with Power (short stories/narrative writing) and ‘Romeo and Juliet’.


Key Stage 4 English 

At GCSE, our pupils are exposed to a wide range of engaging, thought provoking and enlightening texts to help them understand both our literary heritage and how English is at the heart of the modern world. From learning about Shakespeare and Dickens, to exploring the evolution of language and communication through articles and speeches, our students will be able to question, analyse and interrogate the methods writers use to create texts and to shape the impact they have on their audience. Throughout the study of both literature and language, pupils will embark on regular writing challenges, providing them with the opportunity to create, consolidate and constructively criticise.

All students will study the AQA (linear) English Language and Literature GCSEs with 100% of the students’ GCSE grades generated from terminal exams at the end of Year 11. All students sit the same examinations: there are no higher of foundation tiers in either Language or Literature. Students will sit four examinations in total which will result in two GCSE qualifications: English Language and English Literature. A summary of each examination is detailed below:

  • English Language  

In Language Paper 1, the curriculum is designed to challenge, motivate and inspire students through the exploration of fiction, providing an opportunity to analyse a range of extracts from literature past and present as well as get creative through narrative and descriptive writing. We aim to develop the students’ reading comprehension and analytical skills through a variety of texts from dystopian fiction, including Orwell’s ‘1984’ and ‘The Maze Runner’, to more contemporary examples, such as ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ and ‘The Lovely Bones’.

Through Language Paper 2, pupils will be exposed to a wide range of writers’ viewpoints and perspectives through non-fiction.  This will provide them with the opportunity to compare texts, old and new, on a given topic. Pupils will also be able to scrutinise and challenge the presentation of current affairs and modern issues in the media. They will encounter the inspiring speeches of Martin Luther King and Emma Watson and consider the realities of the judicial system through newspaper articles. Through these students will gain cultural capital and develop their understanding and engagement with the world around them.

Armed with the understanding of how great writers influence their readers, pupils will produce their own masterful non-fiction pieces, allowing them to voice their opinions on important moral and ethical questions.

GCSE English Language specification: AQA | GCSE | English Language | Introduction


  • English Literature 

Paper 1: 40%

Shakespeare: ‘Macbeth’
Through the exploration of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’, pupils will develop their knowledge of a literary great: exploring life in the 17th Century, making informed and evidenced inferences about the main characters and discovering how the themes of the supernatural, ambition and loyalty are presented through the writer’s craft.

For the exam, pupils will be required to thoroughly analyse the language and structure of an extract as well as being able to impart their knowledge of the play as a whole.

19th Century Novel: ‘A Christmas Carol’
Pupils immerse themselves in the world of 19th Century London by focusing on this legendary literary text, ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens. Through the character of Scrooge and his infamous supernatural visits on Christmas Eve, students will explore the themes of redemption, poverty and family. For the exam, pupils will be required to thoroughly analyse the language and structure of an extract as well as being able to impart their knowledge of the novella as a whole.

Paper 2: 60%

Modern Drama or Prose: ‘An Inspector Calls’
Through J.B. Priestley’s play, students will learn about dramatic conventions and how English isn’t limited to the page. As one of the most famous dramas in the post-World War II period, students will engage with the political changes that Britain faced and will see how Priestley held up a mirror to society. Through the characters, students will learn about the themes of gender, age and social class and whether these issues are still important in modern day Britain. The teaching of this text is supported by a theatre trip, availability permitting, for students to immerse themselves in the world of the play and see the impact of dramatic conventions.

For the exam, pupils will be required to formulate their own opinions about the play as a whole through a character or theme, making links across the text to show character shifts and thematic developments.

Poetry Anthology: Power and conflict
In order to achieve a full and varied curriculum, pupils will experience how the theme of power and conflict is expressed through the medium of poetry. From Wilfred Owen to John Agard, students will critically analyse the poets’ craft through an anthology of fifteen poems. To support their understanding of power and conflict over the past century, the students will study a range of non-fiction texts to consider how the issues and messages raised are still relevant today.

Unseen Poetry
Armed with their toolkit of analytical skills, pupils will tackle the unseen, comparing and contrasting poetry from across the ages.  In the exam, pupils are required to thoroughly analyse and express their ‘big ideas’ about the poem provided and then compare to a second poem from the collection of the same theme.

Every half-term, all students in Years 10 and 11 will be assessed in line with the AQA examination criteria as well as having the opportunity to sit mock examinations in a formal examination environment at the end of Year 10 as well as during the autumn and spring terms of Year 11.

All of the GCSE Literature examinations are closed book.  This means they need to revise them regularly throughout Year 10 and Year 11. 

GCSE English Literature specification AQA | GCSE | English Literature | Introduction