Key Stages 3&4
English Curriculum Intent - Key Stages 3 and 4
The intent of our English curriculum at Aston Academy is to ensure that students are provided with excellent teaching and learning through the study of challenging, engaging texts, a focus on creative activities and approaches, and frequent opportunities to build upon their cultural capital. We want our students to understand the relevance of texts to their own lives and be equipped with the knowledge to tackle any unseen text with confidence and resilience. In English, we include a range of high quality teaching methods, demonstrate consistently high expectations, and embed frequent opportunities for students to demonstrate their understanding of content and skills through independent tasks. Ultimately, we want our students to be independent readers and writers who feel confident tackling any text or writing task that they encounter.
In Drama, our aims are for students to develop an understanding of the key concepts linked to theatrical conventions, roles and principles of the theatre. Through the study of key theatre practitioners, students will be able to develop their understanding of how language and theatrical devices are employed for effect.
Key Stage 3
At Key Stage 3, we have designed our schemes and lessons so that students will follow an engaging, challenging, inspiring and comprehensive programme of study that is focused around the central vehicle of the ‘STORY’. This seemingly simplistic focus encompasses detailed study of structure, language, voice, context, message, social commentary and cultural knowledge. It is the vehicle through which most English study is taught. Understanding it as a construct is central to success in both GCSE and A level.
Our carefully sequenced schemes will form a coherent journey between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 but also be a coherent journey through Key Stage 3 so that students become independent writers and readers, and develop a love for English both in and out of the classroom. We want our students to understand the value and joy of reading and writing, both in and out of school. Through the study of Drama, our students will have ample opportunities to develop their confidence in performance and their appreciation of theatrical forms.
Our schemes include the study of content, ideas and historical contexts that all 21st students should be aware of and build upon their cultural capital so that students can relate their learning to the wider world. Through careful inclusion of PSHCE topics, students will also have the opportunities to develop their understanding of the qualities and attributes they need to thrive, while applying knowledge to real life situations.
The programme will develop student vocabulary and higher order reading and thinking skills; extend grammar and literacy learning from KS2; include Tier 2 and 3 level vocabulary so this is familiar on entry to Key Stage 4 and ensure students can comment on writers’ stylistic choices through the identification and discussion of linguistic and literary terminology.
There will be more study of whole texts and authors rather than extracts as specified in the National Curriculum, so that students develop further awareness of stylistic choices and texts as a whole.
Independent reading comprehension will be prioritised and essay writing developed as a key writing skill.
Reading: a wide range of fiction and non-fiction; whole books, poems and plays, English literature both pre-1914 and contemporary; two Shakespeare plays; world literature; two authors per year.
Writing: a wide range of text types, purpose and audiences; essays and narrative work; imaginative writing; presentations; argument texts.
In Year 7, studies will focus on the component parts of all stories – character, setting and plot. This develops meta-understanding from Key Stage 2 and prepares students for more in-depth study at KS4.
In Year 8, we move onto a more advanced level of narrative – genre and theme. We start to look at the text as something beyond itself and as a means of communicating a message to an audience.
In Year 9, we consider the story both as a vehicle for social commentary and a means by which people have a voice, while also studying poetry and creative writing.
Through each unit, we want our students to develop their ability to speak for a range of purposes and situations, so have embedded a range of speaking and listening activities to promote confidence and independence.
Through our ELT programme, our aim is that students become more independent, reflective learners, who can identify where their gaps in knowledge are and act upon these.
In order to assess students’ knowledge, understanding and skills development over time, each unit of work entails two ‘Milestone Assessment’ and one ‘Progress Assessment’, allowing us to identify areas of strength and areas for improvement to be addressed in the subsequent schemes of work.
In Drama, students will develop their understanding of key concepts and terminology linked to theatrical practice, and will use this knowledge to develop their performance skills.
Key Stage 4
At Key Stage 4, we have planned our schemes and lessons so that students follow a challenging, engaging, inspiring and detailed programme of study that is focused around the varying plots, writer’s viewpoints, and contexts of each text studied. Our aim is that students can use the tools they have developed at Key Stage 3, and hone these at Key Stage 4 through the study of increasingly challenging texts in preparation for the study of Key Stage 5 and the wider world.
With the aim of providing ample opportunities for students to revisit learning, we have chosen to split the teaching of English Language and English Literature across Y10 and Y11, with units from each area being taught across Key Stage 4. This provides us with opportunities to make links between topics, aid memorisation and metacognition, and to make sure students are frequently reviewing their own learning and identifying areas which require further work.
Macbeth – Students engage with this as a Shakespearean play and can make links between the present day power struggles within politics and the plot of the play; this, like the other Literature texts, provides a wide range of speaking and listening opportunities to develop confidence, while also giving students a platform to voice their opinions. It also gives us plenty of opportunity to discuss wider issues, such as the human condition and SMSC strands.
Jekyll and Hyde – We have chosen to teach this to some of our groups as the plot of the novella is non-linear, in turn providing students with the opportunity to comment on structure while also engaging with plenty of independent reading opportunities.
A Christmas Carol – We have chosen to teach this to the remaining Y10 groups as the novella is structured in a linear fashion, and therefore, provides plenty of opportunity to analyse and evaluate plot, while still increasing students’ cultural capital through the study of a challenging text.
An Inspector Calls – We have chosen to teach this as it remains one of the most relevant plays to have ever been written, and is one that students always engage with, and can, in some manner, relate to their own life experiences. Our aim is that students can relate the relevant political context of the play to their own lives, and can reflect critically on the world around them.
Power and Conflict Poetry Anthology – We have chosen this unit as opposed to the Love and Relationships unit as many of our students see some of the poems as more relatable – the content provides ample opportunities for students to make links not only between the 15 poems, but with the other texts studied across the key stage, particularly the Literature texts. This unit provides us with the opportunity to teach students about cultural traditions, history, and how poets reflect on their own experiences.
Students will develop an understanding of how English both Literature and Language can reflect their own life experiences and how we can learn about other cultures and viewpoints through the study of a range of texts.
The programme will develop student vocabulary and higher order reading and thinking skills; extend complex grammar and literacy learning from KS3; include Tier 2 and 3 level vocabulary so this is embedded by the time students sit their examinations at Key Stage 4, and potentially Key Stage 5.
There will be study of extracts from articles and reports in line with the AQA English Language specification, but texts will not be restricted to this, with ELT forming the basis of wider reading opportunities. This is so that students can broaden their knowledge of different texts, attitudes, cultures, and writing styles. Independent reading comprehension and analysis will be prioritised and essay writing developed as a key writing skill.
In Drama, students study a range of plays and apply relevant theatrical theory to written analysis in order to supplement their understanding of theatre. Through composition work, students apply this theory further to their own performances.
English Learning Plans
Please click the links below to view our English learning plans.
English Learning Expectations
Please click the links below to view our English learning expectations.
These documents show the progress we expect students to make by the end of each term.
Key Stage 3
Y7 English Learning Expectations
Y8 English Learning Expectations
Y9 English Learning Expectations
Key Stage 4
Y10 English Learning Expectations
Y11 English Learning Expectations
POST 16 (Key Stage 5)
English Language, English Literature, Film Studies Curriculum Intent - Key Stage 5
The intent of our English Faculty Key Stage 5 curriculum is to ensure that students are provided with excellent teaching and learning which builds upon the skills and knowledge they have acquired over the past four key stages. These skills include the development and refinement of academic written analysis, independent study, and textual analysis. We want our students to be confident when analysing texts that have been produced for a range of purposes, and to be able to critically evaluate these, using both the conceptual and evaluative skills they have honed throughout Key Stage 4 and 5.
The foundation framework for each course will provide a thorough grounding in the key analytical concepts of each discipline, including relevant specialist terminology, critical theory and meta-language. In order to consolidate their learning, students will have opportunities to learn by rote, through repeated application of a range of analytical frameworks, throughout each course.
So that students are provided with high-quality, effective feedback, students will regularly prepare, produce, and submit extended written responses. These will be guided at the beginning of each course, with scaffolds gradually being removed so that students can confidently produce quality work independently by the time they sit their examinations. Students will also be given ample opportunities to work on their independent research skills through the exploration of independent data sources, and draw meaningful conclusions from these.
To enhance students’ wider contextual knowledge, students will be encouraged to read a wide range of texts independently and to make cross-curricular links with their wider A-Level studies. Through the study of the wide range of texts and ideas that each A-Level course entails, students will increase their cultural capital through exploration of their social, historical political, cultural, and production contexts. Our courses are excellent preparation for any further education course, through the consistent development of higher level academic literacy skills and the breadth of cultural capital each course provides.
How will we assess students' knowledge, understanding and skills development over time?
English Language A-Level Curriculum Intent
Our engaging and comprehensive English Language A-Level provides students with the opportunities to enhance the analytical, creative, and critical skills they have developed throughout Key Stage 3 and 4, with the study of a wide range of texts. Initially, our key focus is to provide students with the confidence to talk confidently in the A-Level classroom, with extensive discussion, debate, and feedback relating to the broad range of topics they study. In order for students to access the rest of the course, it is crucial that students develop a solid understanding of the key constituents of English Language, so every lesson includes this as a starting point. In order for students to focus on each component, we split the teaching of the course, with the first teacher teaching one topic for three hours a week, and the second teacher teaching a separate topic for the remaining two hours. Each component contains extensive opportunities for cross-curricular study, particularly in subjects such as the Humanities.
Within each component, students are guided towards focusing on the form, audience, purpose, context, and content of each text. This allows students to analyse the language used within each text, and comment on this using the grammatical knowledge they have acquired. Through in-depth study of grammar, students are able to comment on the specifics of morphemes, phonemes, word, sentence, and whole text level features, both on individual texts and through the comparison of several texts side by side. Following the initial study of grammar, students begin by exploring Spoken Language and Creative and Critical Writing. Through the study of Spoken Language, students develop their knowledge of the conventions of different mediums and their development over time/importance in the modern world. Furthermore, through the study of a range of spoken text types, students gain knowledge of the conventions of, among others, different news platforms, television channels, and political broadcasts. Through the study of Creative and Critical writing, our students have the opportunity to practise writing for a vast range of purposes and in a broad range of styles, allowing them to hone their technical writing ability and express themselves through the written word. Each component provides students with the skills for analysing texts from a range of different contexts, and provides plenty of time to get to grips with applying more complex terminology and demonstrating creative writing skills.
As students develop their confidence in textual analysis, we move on to the study of English in the 21st century, where students can apply their newly acquired terminology and in-depth understanding of grammar to texts from a range of platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, text messaging, Lonely Hearts columns, and blogs. This unit allows students to develop their understanding of how language is always evolving, and how the platforms they use to communicate reflect changing trends and attitudes towards language use. Meanwhile, in the remaining lessons of the week, students develop their ability to respond to a stimulus and apply their knowledge of theory and content through the study of Child Language Acquisition. This topic provides students with the knowledge of the wide range of theories surrounding the way that a child, aged 0-5, acquires spoken language, the ability to communicate non-verbally, and the crucial milestones that a child reaches within this age range. By teaching these topics concurrently, students are able to advance their analytical skills in terms of writing extended essays, and can use both stimulus material and their own knowledge to write in an evaluative, academic manner.
Our students progress to the study Language and Power/Situation and Standard and Non-Standard English, both of which require students to discuss theory, relevant examples, and apply terminology. Language and Power/Situation involves the study of how power is exerted in real-world situations, such as in the classroom, political contexts, retail, and general domestic conversations. Furthermore, students will study the wide range theories surrounding Language and Power/Situation, and how context plays a crucial role in determining the outcome of a situation. Meanwhile, through the study of Standard and Non-Standard English, we explore the ways that accent and dialect are perceived across the UK, and how attitudes towards particular varieties have significant impacts upon real-world situations, such as job interviews. Furthermore, through the study of punctuation and grammar over time, students learn about how attitudes towards these areas have changed over time, and how meaning can be significantly impacted upon due to the smallest of details. The teaching of each component side by side complements one another, and allows students to truly hone their skills in the application of facts and examples they have committed to memory.
Following this, we move on to the topic of Language and Identity, which forms the basis of our students’ Non-Exam Assessment. Here, students utilise the skills they have acquired throughout the course to conduct an independent study into an area of personal interest relating to the way speakers and writers use language to construct a particular identity. From this, students conduct an independent investigation and present their findings in the form of an extensive write up. Students move on to the study of English Language Over Time, involving the study of texts from 1500 onwards. This topic teaches students about how society is reflected in language, and how a wide range of different text types have changed in terms of their linguistic conventions, over time. It also provides insight and understanding into how spelling and grammar have changed and been influenced due to the various historical and social events that have occurred over time. We study this topic at the beginning of Y13, meaning our students are able to access the complexities of this component with confidence, and are able to approach the various skills required for this, including application of complex terminology, textual analysis, and comparison. By then revisiting each of the other areas of study in Y13, we provide students with chances to hone the quality of their written work, fully consolidate their existing knowledge, and expand upon their initial studies so that they can apply their developing understanding of the course as they do so.
Ultimately, we want our students to leave English Language A-Level with a greater appreciation of the way the world is shaped through language and to be sophisticated readers and writers, for both the world of work and higher education. Through the study of a range of texts and contexts, our students leave Y13 with the ability to approach texts in a critical manner, meaning they are excellent evaluators and independent thinkers, regardless of the texts they encounter. We also want our students to be confident in producing texts, regardless of the purpose, to have strong self-awareness of their written work, and outstanding technical accuracy.
English Literature A-Level Curriculum Intent
The A level English Literature course endeavours to encourage the enjoyment of literary studies based on an informed personal response to a range of texts. We hope to encourage students to develop their interest in and enjoyment of literature by building on the knowledge they have learned throughout all four previous key stages. They will develop and refine the reading skills and academic writing skills that they have learned through their GCSE study of both English Literature and English Language; they will read widely and independently, both set texts and others that they have selected for themselves engaging critically and creatively whilst developing ways of responding to them.
Throughout the course students study poetry, drama and prose to allow them to focus on the conventions and traditions of each genre, whilst a further component offers unseen prose and poetry to allow students to focus separately on applying the skills of literary analysis acquired during the course as a whole. In order for students to focus on each component, we split the teaching of the course; the first teacher teaches one topic for three hours a week, and the second teacher teaches a separate topic for the remaining two hours. Each component contains extensive opportunities for links between texts, which will develop and enhance their techniques of analysis, evaluation and comparison of literary texts in the context of a wider range of texts of cultural and literary significance.
English Literature is a subject that requires students to consider individual, moral, ethical, social, cultural and contemporary issues; students are required to consider the significance and influence of the contexts in which the texts studied were received. Students are also encouraged to reflect on the spiritual, moral, ethical, social and cultural aspects, which are also pertinent to such contexts.
The poetry component encourages students to develop their ability to read widely and engage critically with a range of poetry from different times whilst developing further their techniques of analysis and evaluation. Students study the work of one poet from Post 1900 and two pre 1900 poets; these ‘modern day’ poetry collections are linked by theme. Students build on the skills taught in Key Stage 4, and are required to analyse how meanings are shaped in poetry texts and the ways writers adapt structure, form and language in poetry for effect. For both poetry sections, students need to be able to use accurate terminology and quotations, take into consideration attitudes and values of the time, and be able to comment on others’ critical interpretations.
The Drama component encourages students to explore the changing traditions of drama over time. As with poetry, students will study three texts, two from Pre 1900 and one Post 1900; one of the Pre 1900 plays will be a Shakespearean text; the other two are linked by theme and are from different times. For both sections, students are required to demonstrate their ability to analyse how meanings are shaped in a drama text, show an understanding of the cultural and contextual influences on readers and writers, and use accurately a range of literary concepts and terminology, including knowledge of the principles and conventions of drama and dramatic verse. As with the poetry component, students must use accurate quotations and references to texts and sources, identify and consider how attitudes and values are expressed and reflect on different others’ interpretations. Their written work should be clear and in an effective academic style and register.
The third examined component is entitled ‘Unseen Texts’; this section gives students the opportunity to synthesise and reflect upon the knowledge they have gained from the course as a whole and to apply their skills of literary analysis to the examination of unseen prose and unseen poetry texts. Students have the opportunity to approach each section in a personal and engaged way, demonstrating their own critical skills as they encounter texts that have not been previously set for study as part of the course. Section A: Unseen prose requires students to respond to one question from a choice of two; each question will offer an unseen prose passage for analysis. Question 1 is a prose passage from the period 1880-1910 whilst question 2 is from the period 1918-1939. In their analysis, students must focus their response on how meanings are shaped. In addition, they must consider the relevant contexts and understand how texts may be read in more than one way. A set of brief supporting contextual and critical extracts will accompany each prose passage to help students consider the significance and influence of contexts and other readers’ views. In preparation for this section, students are given the opportunity to read a wide range of prose from the defined periods above.
Section B requires students to respond to one question from a choice of two; each question will offer an unseen poem or poetry extract from any period. In their response to the unseen poem, students must focus on the ways in which meanings are shaped. In preparation for this section, students are given the opportunity to read a wide range of poetry of different periods and forms.
The final part of the English Literature course is the Prose Study (Non-exam assessment); this is a 2500-3500 word assignment, which is internally assessed and externally moderated. It is based on the reading of two prose texts by different authors, one published pre-2000 and one published post-2000. The task for this assignment must allow students to show knowledge and understanding of ways in which texts relate to one another and to literary traditions, movements and genres. Students are also required to consider the significance of different cultural and contextual influences in relation to their chosen texts for study.
We hope that studying English Literature at A Level increases our students’ love of reading and theatre, and enhances their critical and analytical abilities. By guiding them through the course, we hope they will become aware of how traditions and culture have shaped literature over the years.
Film Studies A-Level Curriculum Intent
Whilst Film Studies is likely to be a new discipline for almost all students at A level, it is important from the outset (pre-course marketing, induction, introductory lessons) to reassure students that they have already developed sophisticated cineliteracy skills throughout their lives. It is also important to link Film Studies to their literacy development up to this point, primarily to build confidence in their capacity to succeed but also to raise the subject’s profile to one that has worthwhile academic status.
Early lessons will focus on student engagement, encouraging students to participate in discussion and debate about film by sharing their own experiences both as audiences and as possible filmmakers. The primary focus here is to introduce some key terminology and concepts about how meaning is made and to generate a group dynamic so that students feel comfortable to explore their ideas and inferences. Inevitably, most students’ preferred texts at this stage will be more populist, mainstream cinema so we engage students and build confidence in interpretation and analysis using these films rather than the more academic cinema from the set text list.
This will then lead to a basic introduction to the texts offered and discussion of the difference between film as art and film as a purely commercial product – this introduces the basics of three of the key critical approaches - auteur, spectatorship and ideology.
The first half term will be spent developing student knowledge about the core reading approaches using a variety of pertinent film extracts before the study of a full text. Students will become familiar with the idea that film study is about the interpretation of meaning. They will learn the different concepts and terminology behind five aspects of form (mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, sound, performance) and from this will maintain a glossary of terminology and notes on specific examples in their course folders. Assessments at this stage will be based on films each student is familiar with and may offer a free choice or be based on a sequence studied in class.
At this stage, students will also be introduced generally to the other core ideas – meaning and context. Specifically, this involves theory about representation in art (race, gender, age, class) and basic understanding of the term aesthetics (this becomes clearer as the course goes on and students are exposed to a range of different cinematic styles). Students will also learn a simple history of filmmaking so that they have a rudimentary knowledge of production contexts. This will be developed with each specific film along with particular historical, social, cultural and political contexts that are relevant to each text.
At this stage, it is appropriate to introduce students to some of the short film selection that will inform the coursework unit that will be started at the end of Y12. The more straightforward examples with a clear linear narrative and that follow Classic Hollywood conventions are best to be used here (Wasp, Wallace and Gromit etc.)
We have usually started textual study with the Global film unit (C2A) especially Pan’s Labyrinth. The reasons for this are that it is the only unit that focuses solely on the core skills so allows students to consolidate this learning. The non-English dialogue and use of subtitles also discourages student passivity and keeps them sufficiently distant from the text to engage with it as active students of film differently from films watched passively for pleasure. This might also be supplemented by the co-teacher studying the Hollywood unit (C1A) – the earliest film in the selection often follows the structures of Classic Hollywood Narrative most closely so aids student understanding of these tropes. This unit also focuses heavily on context which is a reading approach students are familiar with from GCSE English Literature. Both films are studied in this unit as it is the only comparative question and sets up the idea that filmmaking is an ever changing process. It also focuses on ideology related to context without that being a specific reading approach. Consequently, it makes sense that this teacher teaches both of these films then follows this with the British film unit (C1C) as that explicitly requires the study of ideology. A more conventional narrative should be studied first for this unit then the second film, which might be more experimental, can be studied in Y13
It is also prudent to study the modern American film unit (C1B) in Year 12 as that also requires students to focus on the ideologies in the texts. This then links the units so students can make connections between texts and also consolidate understanding of key critical approaches. Students will have then studied the four American films in Year 12 and choices should be made to cover a broad time period and range of ideological and stylistic perspectives. Spectatorship is the second critical approach required for the modern American unit and this requires discrete teaching and introduction of key theories.
By the end of Y12, students will have studied all but one of the six films in the first component and the films for the 40 mark question on the second component. Students will have consolidated and refined their understanding and learning of:
Students will also have watched the most accessible ten of the fifteen short films and started the creative process of the NEA unit by developing their own narrative for either a short film or screenplay. Students will be taught and practise both of these disciplines before choosing one to develop at the start of Y13.
The first term in Y13 focuses on the four remaining films (British unit – arthouse, silent, documentary, experimental) The last three of these are 20 mark questions and focus less on the film text and more on the critical approach, using the film as evidence. These films should also be used, therefore, to refine essay-writing skills focusing on students reading questions carefully, deciding on a central thesis and planning before writing. By Christmas of Y13, all the set texts assessed in the examination will have been covered. Also throughout this term, students will independently be working on their NEA production.This means that the synoptic, reflective aspect of the NEA evaluation is completed in the Spring term of Y13 when the whole course has been taught and students are revising what they have learned. NEA final deadline is the break for Easter and students will spend the final weeks of the course practising essay writing of exam questions.
English Learning Plans
Please click the links below to view our English learning plan.
English Learning Expectations
Please click the links below to view our English learning expectations.
These documents show the progress we expect students to make by the end of each term.
Key Stage 5
Film Studies Learning Expectations
Y12/Y13 English Language Learning Expectations
Y12 English Language Learning Expectations
Y12 English Literature Learning Expectations
Y13 English Literature Learning Expectations