Key Stage 3

Each year has a key theme: Conflict in Year 7; Social Justice in Year 8; Relationships and Identity in Year 9. The ideas and themes and the ways they are explored become increasingly challenging. The curriculum has been carefully sequenced to include a non-fiction unit in each of our year plans so that students can study the issues around each theme before exploring them further in their literature texts. Students are introduced to a variety of different writing forms. We support our curriculum with reading for homework and use of Bedrock, an online platform that helps students develop their vocabulary. We want our students to be confident readers of nonfiction as well as fiction and for them to become fluent, confident writers. We want them to be able to express themselves in a range of different forms.

Key Stage 4

We follow the AQA English Language GCSE syllabus.

Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing

This paper requires students to read a piece of modern fiction independently. The reading questions require students to be able to read for information, to analyse the words and phrases used by a writer to affect a reader, to examine the structure of a piece of writing and to be able to respond to a critical view of the passage. The best way to prepare for this paper is to read widely enjoying a range of fiction written by a range of different voices. Students will read a variety of engaging fiction in lessons to prepare them for the adult fiction given to them in the exam itself.

The writing element of the paper requires students to respond creatively, choosing to write a piece of narrative or descriptive writing. Students are given clear structural frameworks to help them write quickly and effectively in the limited time frame of an exam. Students will be taught explicitly how to engage their readers and how to use techniques to create a piece of clear, engaging piece of fiction writing. Writing is all about the crafting process and developing a range of tools to draw from.

Paper 2: Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives Religion Human Rights and Social Justice

This paper requires students to read two pieces of nonfiction that share a topic. The first text can be taken from the twentieth or twenty-first century whereas the second piece is taken from the nineteenth century. The reading questions for this paper require students to compare both texts, to summarise them and then compare the different viewpoints and perspectives of both writers. This involves looking closely at fact and opinion, the arguments of both writers and their use of tone. We prepare for the reading section of the paper by reading a wide range of nonfiction: speeches, blogs, essays and letters in which writers argue a perspective on a topic. This year we have examined many issues including body image, feminism, racism and diversity in the media. Students also have to be able to analyse how writers use their language and structural choices to influence their readers.

The writing element of this paper requires students to write their own piece on nonfiction writing in which they argue their point of view in relation to a given topic. Students are again given a clear structural framework to help them organise their thoughts in the limited time frame of an exam. Students will be taught explicitly how to vary their vocabulary, the register of their language and their sentences in order to engage the reader. They will also learn how to plan their arguments so that they can write clearly and effectively. This writing is really aided by wide reading; if students can be exposed to quality nonfiction at home: memoirs, essays, broadsheet newspapers and magazines, this will really help them emulate the clear, concise style of mature writers.

Non examination component: Spoken language

This assessment doesn’t contribute to the weighting of the English Language GCSE but is a compulsory part of the course. In this assessment, students need to deliver a speech on the topic of their choice to their teacher in a small group and then respond to questions put to them afterwards. The use of Standard English is a requirement. We teach this element of the course in conjunction with our preparation for the writing section of Paper 2 so that students learn how to form arguments and support them convincingly with the evidence and choice of methods they choose.

Students will be expected to work in groups or pairs as well as individually, present information to the class, use drama and role-play, and to contribute to discussions.

Most importantly students learn crucial literacy and oracy skills that allow them to be effective, powerful communicators in the world outside the classroom. 

Curriculum Overview

In each of our six terms, one half term is dedicated to examining nonfiction to expose our students to the kind of texts they would encounter in the nonfiction part of the English Language GCSE exam. In Year 7, our central theme is Conflict. Our third half term unit explores an anthology of conflict texts with our main text being a diary, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

In Year 8 our central theme is Social Justice. In the third half term, we explore a range of texts on the Social Justice theme using I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai as our anchor text holding all these ideas together.

In Year 9 our central theme is Relationships and Identity. In  the third term, we study an anthology around the theme with We should all be feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as our anchor text.

As well as this focus, there is opportunity in all of our units for students to write in different forms: to practise their transactional writing (writing in order to exact change from their reader) and their creative writing too.


Students are assessed in class regularly with live marking and use of the visualiser. Every two weeks, the class receives some Whole Class Feedback where a teacher assesses students’ work and reports common misconceptions to the class displaying model pieces of work. Students then get the chance to improve work submitted using this feedback.

Each academic year, Year 7 to Year 9 students will sit mid term exams and end of year exams.

As well as whole class feedback, at Key Stage 4, students will be given GCSE grades each half term based on practice GCSE questions completed in class. Year 10 exams take place in the summer term where students sit GCSE papers. Year 11 have two sets of mock GCSE exams, in November and in March.

Extra-Curriculuar Opportunities

Debating is a fantastic way to learn how to form arguments and respond to other arguments; Trumpington offers a debating club for all year groups on Friday after school. Creative writing is also available as a weekly club for students to practise their creative writing skills in poetry or prose form.

Future Careers

Good employers, sixth form colleges and universities understand and appreciate the skills students acquire when studying English Language. They seek students who can speak confidently and can listen perceptively, read, analyse and understand information; students who can think independently, make balanced judgements; and students who can write accurately and clearly. These are transferable skills to most subjects.

Some possible careers include: teaching; journalism; law; social work; the media (e.g. TV / Radio); the military; security services; police and politics and medicine.

Useful Links

The websites below are great sources for opinion articles on current affairs:

Comment is Free on The Guardian

Voices in The Independent

Pre-learning activities

Reading is the single most important way to prepare for English Language GCSE. Reading a range of fiction and non-fiction is the best way to succeed in this subject. English teachers will be able to advise of books in our library that can supplement this course. Students will read at least six books a year as part of our 30 minute daily ‘now read’ lessons too.