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St Thomas Aquinas

Year 6 Transition


Head of Faculty - Mrs Emma Tipper

Our students deserve exposure to 'the best that has been thought and said'; they deserve to 'stand on the shoulders of giants'.  It is the English faculty's commitment to this offer which has shaped the way we have sequenced, planned, and resourced the curriculum from the start of KS3 right through to the end of KS5. The subject expertise of our English team and our collaborative approach has resulted in a historicist, concept-based, knowledge rich KS3 journey which prepares students for the demands of the texts we have selected for them to study at GCSE and A ‘Level as well as equip them with the cultural capital they need to hold their own in the academic and intellectual routes they choose to pursue in the future. Our curriculum is unapologetically ambitious, unashamedly academic but it is always a work in progress, daily evaluated to deliver maximum impact year in and year out.  We are proud of this offer and the way our students enthusiastically respond to it.  



KS3 Overview 

The Key Stage 3 curriculum is designed to take students on a journey through many historical epochs to not only expand their GCSE knowledge and techniques but also their cultural capital. Our students begin in Year 7 at the start of the Classical Period of Ancient Greece, focusing on the classical tragedy, where they will learn the famous myths and legends of the likes of King Midas and Pandora’s box all the while expanding their language and structural analysis skills but also their critical thinking and ability to evaluate texts with their own thoughts and interpretations. Year 7 students will then continue through the Medieval period, studying the concept of the Medieval Morality Tale, the Renaissance focusing on humanity’s relationship with nature and then ending this historical journey in the Enlightenment era where they will, much like the freethinkers themselves, be stretched to question these texts thoroughly.

In Year 8, students follow a very similar structure but hone these GCSE analysis skills through more challenging and thought-provoking texts that take them through the Romantic period (focusing on poetry) and the Victorian period where they will be given their first taste of non-fiction writing. This year then culminates with an in-depth look at a Shakespearian play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is designed to be a foundation step for this style of writing and text into Year 9, and then onwards into their GCSEs.

Both Year 7 and Year 8 students also have one lesson per week that is committed to their honing of creative and persuasive writing skills where they will be learning building up key grammatical knowledge. This is to allow these students from an early age at secondary school to begin focusing on crafting brilliant sentences, and therefore brilliant texts, in order to become excellent writers themselves.

Year 7
  • Pandora’s Box.
  • King Midas.


  • Everyman.
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
  • Doctor Faustus.
  • Shakespeare’s Sonnets.
  • The Duchess of Malfi.
  • Paradise Lost.
  • A Modest Proposal.
  • A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.
Year 8
  • The Chimney Sweeper.
  • To Autumn.
  • The Masque of Anarchy.

Victorian Non-fiction

  • The Irish Potato Famine.
  • Excerpt from The Elephant Man.
  • Twelve Years a Slave.
Victorian Fiction
  • Pygmalion.
  • Great Expectations.
  • Jane Eyre.
  • The Time Machine.
Shakespeare Text: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Activity Booklet

Ks4 Overview 

Our Key Stage Four course begins in Year 9 when students build upon the foundational knowledge, they have acquired at Key Stage Three, whilst at the same time preparing for the rigour and demand of GCSE. They begin the year with a poetry anthology which covers poems from around the globe, followed by the study of Romeo and Juliet; all Year 9 students will read and study the whole play with a focus on the concept of a Shakespearean Tragedy. At the end of the year, students study the modern prose fiction novel Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line and, in line with our knowledge-based curriculum, complete a transition unit which recaps the crucial knowledge from each of the epochs studied across Key Stage Three. One lesson per week is also committed to honing the skills of creative and persuasive writing. Building on the grammatical knowledge students have learnt at Key Stage Three, in Year 9 students recap sentence and paragraph level constructions before working towards crafting whole texts. There is a clear focus on conscious crafting and deliberate practice in these lessons to ensure students are becoming accurate, proficient, and thoughtful writers.

In Year 10 and Year 11, students follow the AQA GCSE English Language and Literature courses. This involves the study of Macbeth, A Christmas Carol, An Inspector Calls, and a poetry anthology for English Literature. For English Language, students study a range of high-quality fiction and non-fiction texts, learning how to analyse, interpret and critically evaluate them. Students use what they have read as models for their own creative and persuasive writing, mimicking these high-quality texts and writing styles to become authentic and mature writers.

Links to specifications:
English Language: https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/gcse/english-language-8700/specification-at-a-glance
English Literature: https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/gcse/english-literature-8702/specification-at-a-glance

Content outline:

English Language

  • Paper 1 - Explorations in creative reading and writing
  • Paper 2 – Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives

English Literature

  • Paper 1 – Shakespeare and 19th Century Fiction (Macbeth and A Christmas Carol)
  • Paper 2 – Modern Texts and Poetry (An Inspector Calls, Poetry Anthology and Unseen Poetry)

Non-examined assessment

  • Spoken Language Endorsement (a separate grade: Pass, Merit or Distinction)

KS5 Overview 

At KS5 students study A Level English Language and Literature, a course in which students analyse a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts through different language lenses and engage in creative writing based upon the exploration of a particular author’s writing style. This is a highly academic course which helps students to justify their views and writing choices using detailed language analysis. There is also the opportunity for students to complete an independent language investigation on their own choice of fiction and non-fiction texts for their Non-Examined Assessment.

We have a track record of fantastic results because we have the highest standards for our students. We equip our students to be inquisitive, perceptive readers who can engage critically with texts both within the realms of literature and in society more widely.

Links to specification:
AQA | AS and A-level | English Language and Literature | Specification at a glance

Content outline:

Paper 1 –Telling Stories (40% of overall grade)

  • Anthology based on the city of Paris (Remembered places)
  • A dystopian novel called ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood (Imagined worlds)
  • An anthology of 15 poems by Robert Browning or Carol Ann Duffy (Poetic voices)

Paper 2 – Exploring conflict (40% of overall grade)

  • Creative writing and evaluation based on a novel called ‘The Kite Runner’ (Writing about society)
  • A play called ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ by Tennessee Williams (Dramatic encounters)

Non-examined assessment (20% of overall grade)

  • An independent investigation exploring a literary and non-literary text of your choice