Curriculum Leader: Ms Mackay
Reading is at the heart of students’ experience of English at Norton College. We strive to cultivate a culture where pupils read for pleasure, are ambitious and independent learners and appreciate the power of language.
The English Department is staffed by six experienced teachers. We work closely with the Librarian and our well-stocked Library to offer students access to a range of up-to-date reading material. Each month the library has a new theme, show casing brand-new titles and exciting new authors.
To further develop students’ passion for English, the department offers a range of extra-curricular activities such as ‘Book Club’ and ‘Film Club’. We also hold regular workshops with poets and authors, helping our students to hone their craft and see where the world of words can take them.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss
Key Stage 3
In Key Stage 3, students study English in seven one-hour lessons per fortnight. In studying English at Key Stage 3, our students make a successful and seamless transition from Primary to Secondary-level study, building on the foundations from Key Stage 2. Our robust curriculum is designed to enable students to progress smoothly in their mastery of reading, writing and speaking, with all schemes of learning sequenced to return to key skills and understanding, with added challenge and rigour. Every fortnight pupils will have a Library lesson, where they can spend time selecting new books, enjoying the class reader together and building on the vocabulary, spelling, punctuation and grammar they have accessed in the previous fortnight.
Each scheme of work includes a range of engaging and challenging literature texts, from traditional oral stories to the classic novels of Austin and Dickens, and more contemporary authors such as Orwell and Morpurgo. We encourage students to become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama as well as non-fiction texts, and we value discussion and debate in our classrooms. Our Key Stage 3 aims to offer all pupils access to the power words can have, and underpins their journey to becoming informed, critical and empathetic thinkers.
Year 7 - Autumn term
History of the English Language: we begin by exploring how and why language changes over time, and reading texts such as Beowulf and The Canterbury Tales.
An introduction to Shakespeare: pupils study and compare Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear and Hamlet, as well as learning what life and society was like in Shakespearean England.
Year 7 - Spring term
Animal Farm: we analyse how language is used to create meaning, and consider how texts can have deeper, allegorical meanings while developing our understanding of the role context plays in Literature.
Year 7 - Summer term
Poetry: we explore the different forms, structures and styles poetry offers, and spend time applying these ideas to our own poems.
Private Peaceful (play): we delve into drama and consider how playscripts create tension, meaning and elicit emotion in different ways to that of the novel.
Year 8 - Autumn term
Gothic writing: pupils will study how effective classic Gothic texts are created, including reading of key works such as ‘The Raven’ and ‘The Black Cat’ and writing their own narratives.
War poetry: we build on the significance of context as well as our understanding of poetry. Pupils will analyse imagery and deeper meanings behind poems, and think critically about how they can be used for propaganda.
Year 8 - Spring term
A Midsummer Night’s Dream - William Shakespeare: we read an entire Shakespeare play, building on our understanding of how language evolves over time, considering why Shakespeare is still relevant and develop our own spoken language skills.
Year 8 - Summer term
Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
Pupils will explore Victorian London, how language is used for meaning and how authors create memorable characters.
Year 9 - Autumn term:
Disturbed minds poetry: we analyse poetic techniques including language, form and structure, and how they are used to create literal and figurative meaning.
Writing for purpose: non–fiction: we evaluate a broad range of texts, exploring how writers use language to emphasise their own perspective, and create our own successful non-fiction texts.
Year 9 Spring term:
Much Ado About Nothing: we return to Shakespeare to continue developing our understanding of language and dramatic features, and explore feminism and misogyny in literature.
Of Mice and Men: we analyse structural and symbolic features within narratives while continuing to develop our understanding of the lives and hardships of others.
Year 9 - Summer term
Myths and Legends: we explore how texts from all ages interact with each other, and how these allusions can help us prepare for our study of a 19th Century text.
Key Stage 4
At Key Stage 4, students are entered for GCSEs in English Language and English Literature GCSE, as well as a Spoken Language component.
We follow the AQA specification for these qualifications. Final assessment of these GCSEs will take place at the end of Year 11, in the form of four separate examinations. In preparation for these examinations, students study a range of texts, including modern novels and plays such as ‘An Inspector Calls’ and ‘A Christmas Carol’, Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ and a range of poetry from the Power and Conflict cluster of the AQA Anthology. Students are also expected to develop their speaking and listening abilities, including a formal assessment of their presentation skills.
Over the course of the two years, students will be assessed regularly, and their progress tracked so we can offer support and intervention straight away. Formal mock examinations take place at the end of Year 10 and in the autumn and spring terms of Year 11.
Year 10 - Autumn term
Modern text: An Inspector Calls - J. B. Priestley: we develop our understanding of how texts are used to convey wider messages to society, analysing closely the dramatic form and use of language to create meaning.
Language Paper 1: exploring how writers use language and structure for meaning, and evaluative skills. Creative writing - fiction.
Year 10 - Spring term
AQA Anthology - Power and Conflict: pupils study 15 poems, building on their skills of comparison and their knowledge of language, form and structure.
Unseen poetry: pupils further develop their comparison skills
Year 10 - Summer term
19th Century text: A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens: we explore how Dickens uses language and structure to develop his allegory, while continuing to develop our understanding of how historical context influences texts.
Year 11 - Autumn term
Language Paper 2: exploring perspective and viewpoints. Creative writing: non-fiction.
Year 11 - Spring term
Macbeth – William Shakespeare: we deepen our understanding of structure within plays, as well as how dramatic devices and language create meaning.
Year 11 - Summer term
Revision of key skills
Key Stage 5
Students study a broad range of texts at Key Stage 5, exploring the theme of ‘Love and Relationships’. Our class sizes mean we know our students well, and can offer tailored support and feedback every lesson, while still developing their discussion and debate skills through group work and presentations. Pupils complete an independent study, where they will explore texts and topics they are truly passionate about under the close guidance of the class teacher.
Academic study is supported with a range of extra-curricular opportunities, which allow our students to experience Literature beyond the classroom. Recent opportunities have included theatre trips and visits to University workshops.
Year 12 - Autumn term
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (to be compared with the post-1900 poetry anthology)
Othello - William Shakespeare
Year 12 - Spring term
AQA Love and Relationships anthology - post 1900
Skirrid Hill - Owen Sheers (poetry anthology)
Year 12 - Summer term
The Color Purple - Alice Walker (to be compared with Top Girls): novel
Pupils begin their independent study, comparing two texts of their choice in an extended piece of coursework.
Year 13 - Autumn term
Top Girls - Caryl Churchill (play to be compared with The Color Purple): play
Pupils finalise and submit their independent coursework.
Year 13 - Spring term
Year 13 - Summer term
Revision of key skills.