Learning in English

We believe that English is vital in enabling students to comprehend the world around them and to express themselves in a clear and effective manner. We aim to create a real appreciation of literature in all its forms and to feed students’ imaginations as they write. In an information-rich world, we want students to be both critical and enthusiastic readers, with the confidence to make up their own minds and to articulate their own feelings.

We aim to enable and cultivate students’ interest in the subject by providing opportunities to take part in annual competitions such the Young Writers competitions (www.youngwriters.co.uk/competitions) where students can experiment with poetry and hone their writing skills by producing mini sagas in just a hundred words. We want students to appreciate how drama is brought to life on the stage, and we recently organised a trip to the Marlowe in Canterbury to see Macbeth and as well as welcoming a theatre company to perform their production of A Christmas Carol to all Year 10 and 11 students.

Reading is at the heart of all that we do and all students at key stage three start lessons by reading a book of their own choice.

KS3, Years 7, 8 & 9 English

The aim of the Key Stage Three curriculum is to reinforce and extend the skills and knowledge encountered at primary school in order to build a foundation which prepares students for the GCSE English Language and English Literature courses which begin in Year 10.

Students are taught in mixed ability groups, apart from students in the Grammar stream and Achieve group, and attend English for eight lessons per fortnight.

Our schemes of work follow the National Curriculum programme of study for Key Stage Three, incorporating reading, writing, grammar and spoken English.  Students have the opportunity to critically engage with a range of poetry, prose and play texts as well as a wide variety of non-fiction texts such as news articles and speeches.  Moreover, students are taught to write for a range of different purposes and contexts and to hone their speaking and listening skills in both formal and informal situations.

English encourages reading for pleasure and places a firm focus on reading in English lessons.  Thus, students are expected to bring a reading book to every English lesson.  Students’ learning is also enriched by competitions and theatre visits.

The programme of study, married with engaging and innovative teaching, is aimed at inspiring creativity, a love of the English language and passion for literature. However, literacy is key to success in future study and the world beyond, therefore, we aim to enable students to communicate with clarity and precision.

Students are assessed termly for reading and writing across the year to enable students’ progress to be closely monitored. Data from these assessments enables teachers to stretch and challenge students as well as close gaps in learning.

Teaching staff often meet to discuss and share teaching strategies to further enhance the educational experience that is offered to all students.


KS4, Year 10 & 11 GCSE English and English Literature

Students begin their GCSE study of English at the start of Year 10 and complete their course in Year 11. The Department delivers two GCSEs: AQA English Language and AQA English Literature.

The English Language GCSE is intended to give students a firm foundation in reading and writing for their future lives. They will continue to develop the skills of Key Stage Three in comprehending, analysing and interpreting prose non-fiction and fiction. They will learn to express themselves maturely and creatively through descriptions, stories and argumentative writing. Assessment is entirely by exam, with students sitting two papers in June of their examination year. Students will undertake a spoken assignment within school and this is awarded separately and does not contribute to the overall grade.

The English Literature GCSE builds on their existing reading skills. Students study a combination of fictional prose, poetry and drama. Students are encouraged to appreciate the skill, craft and ideas of the writers. They will further enhance their writing skills so they can respond to what writers write, how they write and why they write, gaining an appreciation of the context of texts and how writers can get their readers to both think and feel.

Progress is continually reviewed throughout the course. Additional support is offered both in class and after school so that each student can meet their potential.

As with Years 7, 8 and 9, the course is well resourced, with schemes of work created collectively. From Year 7 to 11, the emphasis is on moving students from commenting on texts, to explaining methods and ideas and then on analysing texts confidently and in some detail. Creative writing will be familiar to students, but we aim to broaden their writing skills and maintain the focus on clarity, organisation and creativity.

To help all learners, including SEND, we focus on high quality teaching, alongside the use of a wide range of supportive resources including writing frames to help the students structure their writing. We model answers live in class undertake ‘walking-talking mocks’ where students are guided through their questions and helped with the planning and the drafting of their answers. We regularly use retrieval questioning, to build student confidence over time and develop meaningful memory connections to allow all students to recall and understand key content in the English curriculum. Where exam arrangements are required, including readers, scribes and word processing, we work closely with relevant departments to ensure this provision is provided across the English department.


There are two papers for each GCSE. There are no tiers so all students take the same exam.

English Language Paper 1 

What’s assessed: Students will need to read, comprehend and respond to an extract from prose fiction such as the opening of a novel. They will also write a description and/or story.

How it’s assessed: Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes. 80 marks. 50% of GCSE (25% for reading and 25% for writing).

Question Format: Four short answer reading questions and one long answer reading question. Description/story based on a picture or written prompt (choice of two tasks).

English Language Paper 2 

What’s assessed: Students will need to read, comprehend and respond to an extract from prose non-fiction such as a newspaper article or travelogue. They will be asked to give their point of view in a format such as a letter, article or speech.

How it’s assessed: Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes. 80 marks. 50% of GCSE (25% for reading and 25% for writing).

Question Format: Two short answer questions and two long answer reading questions. Argumentative writing task connected to the reading material (one task with no choice).

English Literature Paper 1

What’s assessed: Macbeth by William Shakespeare and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

How it’s assessed: Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes. 40% of GCSE.

Question Format: Two essay questions on how a theme is presented in an extract and the text as a whole. They have a copy of the extract but not a copy of the whole text.

English Literature Paper 2

What’s assessed: An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley, poetry from the Power and Conflict anthology and unseen poetry.

How it’s assessed: Written exam: 2 hours 15 minutes. 60% of GCSE.

Question Format: Choice of two essay questions on An Inspector Calls; an essay question comparing one poem from the Power and Conflict anthology (provided) with another poem of their choice from the anthology (not provided); an essay question on a theme in an unseen poem and a brief comparison with a second unseen poem.

Year 12 & 13 Retake English

Should students not achieve a grade 4 or better in either English Language or English Literature, they will have to retake English Language. The first retake opportunity is in November of their examination year. They must continue to study English until they achieve a grade 4 or better or they leave the school.


The English curriculum is designed to support our students in their next steps, be that in further education or on their chosen career. The skills of reading and writing provided by English are vital is most careers but particularly in the following fields:

  • Advertising
  • Journalism
  • Communication and the media
  • Teaching
  • Libraries
  • Law

Fundamental British Values

Fundamental British Values are at the heart of English at Goodwin Academy. Throughout our curriculum we look explicitly at all of the Fundamental British Values.

  • Democracy: students have the right to be heard. In English, we regularly practice argumentative writing and this forms part of their English Language GCSE. Students are encouraged to present their point of view emphatically and creatively in both written and spoken forms.
  • Individual Liberty: English provides opportunities for the free expression of views through presentations, class debate and group discussions.
  • Rule of Law: there are opportunities to consider how laws impact upon people’s lives in such as the impact of the Poor Law on the characters of ‘A Christmas Carol.’
  • Mutual Respect and Tolerance of different Cultures and Religions: students are encouraged to take account of different viewpoints and provide counter-arguments where necessary in well- reasoned argumentative writing. We also explore attitudes to culture and religion especially through poetry, such as in our Year 8 unit on Poetry from Different Cultures. For example, the poem ‘The Right Word’ by Imtiaz Dharker explores how we define people and challenges the way people are labelled.


Further Reading 

  • For younger readers
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson
  • The Island At The End Of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
  • Face by Benjamin Zephaniah
  • The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
  • The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
  • For older readers
  • Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
  • Maladapted by Richard Kurti
  • Are You There God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • The Call by Peadar  O’Guilin
  • Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci
  • The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Brighton Rock by Graham Green
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • Thief by Malorie Blackman