The English Curriculum
The English Curriculum at Da Vinci is designed to be both rigorous and inspiring for all students. The students will go on a journey through literature during their five years at Da Vinci Academy, developing an understanding of the literary canon in great depth and breadth. At KS3 (Years 7 – 9) the students are building up the knowledge and skills that will make them successful at GCSE but, more importantly, they are being given the time to develop a love of the subject, embed and secure key skills, and also to study a range of literary and non-literary texts. Each unit introduces new knowledge and introduces students to new texts whilst simultaneously reviewing and embedding knowledge that students have already developed in their previous studies in English. The students cover a wide range of poetry, prose and drama at KS3, alongside developing key reading, writing and oracy skills.
The students will study four units of work per year. Each unit of work is supported by a “work booklet”. These booklets include all the key knowledge that the students need and, where appropriate, include copies of the whole text that they are studying, or key extracts. The work booklets not only provide key knowledge for students, ensuring parity across all students in terms of knowledge, but they also interleave key context and skills across the 3 years of KS3 and into KS4. Much of the context that is taught is applicable to students beyond the English classroom and aims to support students to think critically, challenge stereotypes and strongly-held beliefs and understand the canon of literature and how it has changed and developed over time to reflect the society in which it was written.
The Writing Curriculum
Alongside our KS3 lessons, students will have the opportunity to develop their writing skills. Over the year, they will cover a wide range of writing forms and will spend time planning, drafting and re-drafting their writing. During our writing focused lessons, students will also have opportunities to develop and enrich their vocabulary and will read a range of writing styles that they can replicate and learn from.
Please see below an overview of the Long-Term Plan for KS3:
|The birth of and development of narrative through time.
|Themes, contexts and genres.
|The birth of modernism and literature in the modern world.
|Unit 1: Myths and Legends – the beginnings of narrative and the oral tradition
|Unit 1: Introduction to the Gothic genre: A Study of Jekyll & Hyde
|Writing a gothic short story
|Unit 1: The Female Voice over Time
|Journalism – writing a feature article on an issue related to gender
|Unit 2: The Birth of, and development of, narrative poetry
|Narrative Poetry writing
|Unit 2: Power & Conflict: Shakespeare’s powerful characters and the theme of power through time
|The power of rhetoric – writing a persuasive speech
|Unit 2: The Struggle for Identity in Modern Literature: A study of Anita and Me
|Short story writing – writing a short story about identity
|Unit 3: The Elizabethan Theatre and Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet
|Transactional writing – a speech concerning issues facing young people
|Unit 3: Dystopia and Fractured Worlds: A study of Animal Farm
|Writing a dystopia short story
|Unit 3: Class and Society in Modern Drama: A study of Blood Brothers
|Writing a screen play
|Unit 4: Introduction to the 19th century – short stories
|Unit 4: Exploring Literature from Other Cultures and Traditions: Short story collection
|Writing a letter fighting for a disenfranchised group
|Unit 4: The History of Tragedy and Shakespearean Tragedy: A study of Hamlet and Othello
|Journalism writing – writing about a tragic event
Students are set homework weekly in English. This homework involves the use of knowledge organisers to self-quiz (or, at times, the questions may be set by the teacher). The purpose of homework in English is to help students to develop independent learning skills and the key revision skills that will support their success as they move through education.
We follow the AQA GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature specification. All students are entered for both qualifications. The set texts for Literature are:
- Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol
- J.B Priestley: An Inspector Calls
- William Shakespeare: Macbeth
- AQA Power & Conflict poetry anthology
KS4 students have four English lessons per week. These will be split into three lessons for Literature and one lesson per week that focuses on English language skills. Students will also have short blocks of time that focus on English Language specifically.
|AQA GCSE English Literature & English Language
|Unit 1: Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol Set GCSE text. Students understanding of the development of the novel over time, the 19th century, the gothic genre and class and society will all support their understanding of this novel. Context of the novel including; Victorian society, The Industrial revolution,) Darwin and the development of science, ideas of the supernatural, Christianity and the concepts of good and evil, poverty etc)The concepts of redemption and judgement Biblical (Moses, Noah, Jesus, heaven, hell, purgatory)Divine judgement and salvationKey characters and their developmentThe morality tale and the features of a morality tale (Key themes and their development across the textStyle and structureEssay writing skills and examination rubric Unit 2a: English Language: Explorations in Creative Reading & Writing The skills of exploring creative reading and writing have been covered extensively at KS3, particularly during challenge lessons where writing skills have been embedded. Furthermore, the embedding of writing skills through literature over the years will have given students a secure knowledge of writing and how to structure writing effectively. Skimming, scanning and identify information in a textWriter’s use of language (terminology, key word analysis including connotations, impact on reader)Writer’s use of structure (structural features and WHY)Evaluation – evaluating an opinionThe art of creative writing – difference in narrative and description Unit 3: Modern Drama – An Inspector Calls Students understanding of the genre of drama has been built extensively at KS3 from Shakespeare to modern drama in Y9 with Blood Brothers. Furthermore, their understanding of Victorian Society, the birth of modernism, socialism and capitalism, society and identity will be key to their understanding of this play. Context of the play including: Capitalism and socialism, Edwardian society, Class and the class systems, gender and the birth of the feminist movement, Concepts of morality (particularly Christian morality)Key characters and their developmentKey themes and their development across the textStyle and structureEssay writing skills and examination rubric Unit 2b: English Language – Writer’s viewpoints and perspectives The skills of exploring writer’s viewpoints and being able to write for this purpose has been covered extensively at KS3, particularly during challenge lessons where writing skills have been embedded. Furthermore, the embedding of writing skills through literature over the years will have given students a secure knowledge of writing and how to structure writing effectively. Skimming, scanning and identify information in a non-fiction textWriter’s use of language (terminology, key word analysis including connotations, impact on reader)The skill of summarising and how to make inferencesComparison of textsIdentifying writer’s views and perspectives Writing to voice an opinion Unit 4 Poetry – Power & Conflict Students have studied poetry continually through KS3 as it is interleaved into all units of work. Students start with the birth of poetry and narrative poetry, through to the study of the sonnet and then modern poetry. Furthermore, several of their units at KS3 explore ideas around power and conflict to support thematic understanding of the poetry. Context of the poetry. What is conflict? Key concepts around this (war/power/loss/death/anger/Fear/identity etc)What is “conflict”? How is conflict reflected in literature?Poetic techniques and terminology (verse, rhyme, rhythm, assonance alongside other language techniques relevant to poetry study) Key poems annotated in anthology with considerations of meaning/ideas and poetic techniques usedLinks between the poems on a thematic levelEssay writing skills and examination rubricHow to approach unseen poetry – how to annotate unseen poetry
|Unit 1 – William Shakespeare: Macbeth Students’ knowledge and understanding of drama, particularly Shakespeare, is strong due to coverage at KS3. Furthermore, ideas around power, conflict, gender and tragedy support a thematic understanding of this play. Context of the novel including; Gothic genre, Jacobean England, Kingship including divine right of kings, regicide etc, ideas about natural order, the supernatural in Jacobean England with a focus on witchcraft, concepts of good and evil, particularly Christian concept, ideas about gender and stereotypical gender rolesThe concepts of redemption and judgement (Biblical – Moses, Noah, Jessu, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory)Gender roles in Elizabethan EnglandShakespearean tragedy – Key concept of tragedy, hamartia, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Tragic Hero, Machiavellian villainHubris/anagnorisis/CatharsisKey characters and their developmentKey themes and their development across the textStyle and structure The rest of this year will be taken up with the revision of all units covered in Years 10 and Year 11.
Careers and Further Education
English is enormously respected as a subject both at GCSE, A Level and beyond. When leaving school at 16, a good pass grade in English will ensure you a place in college and will also ensure that you do not need to re-sit the subject once you leave school. However, success in English also provides students with the key skills required to be successful in the workplace. Being able to communicate with confidence and understanding are key to success in the future, no matter what career path you may choose to take. Furthermore, English is recognised highly by universities and further education providers. Some of the major strengths of students who are successful in their study of English is their ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing. As a result, English develops the following skills that can be added to your CV when you begin to apply for jobs.
- independent working
- time management and organisation
- planning and researching written work
- articulating knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories
- leading and participating in discussions
- effectively conveying arguments and opinions and thinking creatively
- using your judgement to weigh up alternative perspectives
- critical reasoning and analysis
If you choose to continue to study English beyond GCSE, there are many jobs that are directly related to the subject. If you choose to do a degree in English, it can directly lead to the careers listed below.
- Digital copywriter
- Editorial assistant
- Teacher of English as a Foreign Language
- Publishing copy-editor/proof-reader
- Secondary school teacher
- Talent agent
- Web content manager
- Academic librarian
- Advertising copywriter
- Arts administrator
- Education consultant
- Marketing executive
- Media researcher
- Primary school teacher
- Private tutor
- Public relations officer
- Records manager
- Social media manager