The curriculum at CHCS is designed to encourage and inspire students to become confident, creative and critical readers and writers. A love of English is fostered across KS3, KS4 and 5, exposing students to a broad and balanced range of genres, styles and contexts, from Victorian novels exploring the brutal reality of poverty, to spoken word and poetry from the Harlem Renaissance. Students are shown the incredible depth and scope of English Literature, while also encouraged to become deep, critical thinkers, aware of the ways in which fiction and non-fiction can critique the status quo. Our Catholic ethos, and the personal and social development of our students, is facilitated through the texts we study, covering a broad range of thought-provoking topics – from the consequences of insatiable ambition, to careers in sport. Students are also supported to become creative, accurate and confident writers, learning to write non-fiction speeches and articles, short stories, and poetry – among others. Our curriculum intends to challenge students, not only in their abilities within the subject of English, but also in the consideration of moral values and cultural issues within the wider world. By allowing students to become articulate, thoughtful and critical communicators, they leave our school able to harness the power of language in our modern world.
Across KS3, students are exposed to a varied, rich and engaging variety of texts – designed to help them enhance the fundamental skills of reading and writing confidently and convincingly, with literacy embedded throughout. Students study a wide range of material from a variety of genres, including poetry, plays, novels and non-fiction texts. Students also have the opportunity to celebrate diverse voices, and develop their own individual voice – both in writing, and through a wealth of opportunities for oracy. Students all achieve excellent outcomes; our most able are stretched and challenged, while our lower ability students receive scaffolding of homework, schemes of work, and lessons.
In year 7, students will establish an understanding of how to analyse literary and non-fiction texts and construct written analysis of texts such as Animal Poetry, Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’, and a range of Non-Fiction. In addition, they develop their ability to write for a variety of vital purposes, including descriptive, persuasive and informative writing. Our intent within year 7 is to solidify students’ understanding of these concepts, increasing confidence in writing and reading, while fostering a love of literature.
Year 8 is designed to build on the fundamental skills in year 7. Students will continue in their analysis and construction of written texts, however in year 8 a greater emphasis is placed on the application of structural techniques such as cyclical structure, as well as exploring more complex texts and concepts, such as identity, fear, and bias. Students begin to bridge the gap into year 9, where more GCSE style content becomes evident, studying texts such as ‘Blood Brothers’, the Gothic, War Poetry and Non-Fiction, as well as writing to advise and argue, inform, and explain.
In Year 9, students begin their transition from KS3 to KS4; they are exposed to more thought-provoking material, chosen carefully to cover a wide range of genres and topics, and begin to explore and evaluate the impact of literary contexts. Students are challenged to consider alternative presentations of similar eras (‘Of Mice and Men’ is explored alongside the poetry of the Harlem Renaissance, as well as Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, Non-Fiction and ‘An Inspector Calls’), and students continue to build their linguistic and structural analysis skills, however they are also exposed to some of the format of some GCSE style questions. The texts studied remain separate from KS4, though students do explore texts that were previously part of the GCSE syllabus to ensure that a suitable level of challenge is met.
At KS4, students study a vibrant, rich and varied curriculum, from Shakespearean tragedy (Macbeth) to contemporary poetry, as well as ‘An Inspector Calls’ and ‘A Christmas Carol’, as well as thought-provoking non-fiction. Opportunities for oracy are also provided, allowing students to develop their critical, personal opinions and perspectives. Students are challenged to grapple with complex ideas in an analytical, thoughtful and perceptive manner, preparing them for their GCSE examinations – and beyond. Students learn how to express themselves creatively in their writing, exploring complex skills such as anaphora, analepsis and prolepsis – and many others, becoming adept at communicating for a number of purposes, from description and story-telling, to building a compelling argument. As at KS3, students receive personalised scaffolding and stretch, in order to all access the same breadth of curriculum and make superb progress.
At A Level, students have the opportunity to study either English Language A Level, or English Literature A Level: a rare breadth of choice. We follow the AQA English Language course, and AQA English Literature B – studying a broad range of innovative, inspiring fiction – and non-fiction – as well as complex theoretical perspectives, such as Marxism and Feminism. Students are also supported to explore their individual interests, in pieces of self-defined coursework, conducted alongside their examined work.
Studying English Language, students have the opportunity to build a theoretical, context-driven understanding of modern English: how it has evolved, the ways in which politics, race, gender, class and a myriad of other forms impact and influence it. Students learn to be critical, evaluative thinkers, critiquing and deconstructing theories, while also gaining a secure understanding of complex linguistic frameworks, with which to analyse language. Child language acquisition is also explored. As well as analytical, academic essay writing, students are able to hone and develop their creative writing in a range of personal, innovative projects, including producing their own, self-directed coursework.
Students of English Literature build on the solid foundations of KS4 to explore seismic, significant texts and moments of Literature: from the tragedy of Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ and Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” to Hardy’s ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ and crime fiction. Alongside these texts, and others, students also develop their critical thinking, beginning to understand and use complex theoretical interpretations such as Marxism and Feminism – the perfect preface for further study at University. Exploring their own individual interests and ideas is encouraged in English Literature, with students having the opportunity to explore their own, self-designed coursework exploring texts and ideas of their choice. English Literature and English Language A Levels are exciting, innovative courses, designed to equip students with the skills to become interrogative, independent thinkers – and ideal preparation for University.