Key Stage 4 Overview
The overarching aim for English at KS4 is to create enthusiastic, independent, imaginative, critical and analytical readers. Our curriculum aims to increase students’ enjoyment of reading, helping to nurture a lifelong appreciation of literature. Students should recognise the impact of language, structure and form on a text, whilst also demonstrating the ability to read easily, fluently and with good understanding. Our department seeks to develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and the acquisition of information, with texts of all types and genres. This will help our students to:
- Acquire a wider working vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions that will equip them for all aspects of their working and academic lives.
- Appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage, celebrating all that is best in our literary canon and fostering an enthusiasm for authors, poets and playwrights that will stay with our students beyond their school career. From Shelley to Shakespeare, Larkin to Dickens, we hope that our students will love literature for life.
- Write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. We prioritise the ability to communicate in all forms which will equip our students for life beyond Thornleigh and the wider working world.
- Use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas. We aim to provide our students with multiple opportunities to be competent in the art of effective speaking and purposeful listening, both in personal presentations and in group discussions/creative drama work.
The KS4 curriculum in English is constructed of the following components, culminating in entry for the EDUQAS English Language and EDUQAS English Literature examinations.
- EDUQAS Poetry Anthology. We commence with the study and analysis of the war poems in this section of the anthology, looking at representations of conflict and the role of the soldier. The approach is holistic and well-rounded at this point; key poems are reviewed alongside poets with differing viewpoints and a range of diverse texts from a variety of periods and contexts are considered.
- Reading and studying relevant contextual issues in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol or Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. We read and explore these weird and wonderful examples of Gothic Literature, enthusing our students with key understanding of the times in which they were written, and embarking on a range of activities that will secure an excellent understanding of important characters and themes.
- Reading and studying relevant contextual issues in Priestley’s An Inspector Calls. Our literature period and focus changes here from the 19th century to the turn of the 20th century, a period of Edwardian polite society where weddings were business mergers and Inspectors ‘inspected’ more than a crime. Our students enjoy the mystery of the Inspector himself, the challenge of Priestley’s political mantra and beliefs as well as being given the opportunity to read this mysterious play. By the end of this study, they will be very aware of Priestley’s characterisation and his important message about social responsibility.
- Reading and studying Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a tale of castles, conflicts and dastardly murders. Our students are treated to a first reading of this exciting tragedy, learning about the patriarchal context and the nature of the tragic hero himself. They will become familiar with the complex structure of the plot and explore key themes of gender, ambition and the supernatural.
Years 10 and 11
Our older students will follow a bespoke programme of study that builds to meet the demands of the EDUQAS Language and Literature specifications. Although these elements will be common to all and evident in teaching, their chronological order will depend on the specific pathway that a student follows. However, all students can be tracked through a comprehensive curriculum map that includes:
Literature Based Activities:
- Reviewing and consolidation of the EDUQAS Poetry Anthology. Students will study and analyse the ‘people’ and ‘power’ poems in this section of the anthology, together with continual reviews of the ‘war’ and ‘nature’ grouping from Year 9. We will be enabling our students to cope with poetry analysis under timed conditions, with key quotes being learned and embedded effectively.
- Preparing for the GCSE Literature examination – extracts from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol or Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Students will work towards answering a question that commences with an extract and then widens to encompass the events of the whole text, taking into account the social and historical context of the novellas. The focus is now on deeper analysis and more detailed awareness of the writer’s intent.
- Preparing for the GCSE Literature examination – extracts from Priestley’s An Inspector Calls. Again, this starts with an extract based analysis which widens to encompass key events and key characters. Students will be expected to know the plot structure in detail and to be able to express their ideas confidently without the text in front of them.
- Approaching the analysis of an unseen poem. Throughout, students will be building confidence through our continual modelling of how to access meaning through the language and structure of a poem. This will lead to comparing the ideas conveyed in two poems written about a similar theme.
- Preparing for the GCSE Literature examination – extracts and essay based responses to a variety of characters and themes in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Again, this starts with an extract based analysis that widens to encompass key events and key characters. Students will be expected to know the plot structure in detail and to be able to express their ideas confidently without the text in front of them.
Language Based Activities:
- Reading comprehension. Students will be identifying implicit and explicit meaning in both fiction and non-fiction texts that are chosen specifically by the examination board to pique their interest. We will school students on recognising what is credible and what is, in effect, ‘fake news’ and hidden opinions in this media-centred age.
- Reading comprehension. Students will be analysing the variety of techniques employed by a writer to convey an idea or message in both fiction and non-fiction texts. Our students will be recognising how their key messages, ideas and prejudices are implicitly conveyed.
- Reading comprehension. All students will be comparing the similarities and differences of ideas conveyed in two non-fiction texts, one written in the 19th century. This is a challenging skill that our students embrace as they negotiate a more formal and archaic style of writing.
- Narrative writing skills. Students will be guided on how to create and craft a short piece of narrative writing to fit a prescribed title. Our students need to learn to create a coherent and engaging narrative under timed conditions and are given many creative and diverse opportunities to do so.
- Transactional writing. Using a variety of style models, students will study how to create, craft and structure formal letters, speeches, reports, reviews, magazine articles and the text of persuasive leaflets.
Spoken Language skills. Students will create and perform an informative speech, dealing competently with the challenge of speaking in front of an audience and demonstrating their absolute confidence in taking questions from their peers on their chosen subject.