Key Stage Three
At TGSA, our KS3 curriculum is rich in knowledge and offers our pupils a breadth and depth of literature that enables them to progress through their education and become successful learners. We recognise the importance of teaching pupils a wide range of texts and ensure that they engage with everything from Shakespearean plays and contemporary novels to Romantic poetry. The curriculum has been planned meticulously; each term has an overarching theme, with a range of formative and summative assessments to prepare our learners for further study of English Literature and Language.
We have a set of fundamentals that underpins our KS3 curriculum; they are non-negotiable pieces of knowledge that we want every student to have mastered by the end of KS3. It means that our curriculum journey is clear and purposeful and also ensures that our expectations are the same of every single pupil that we teach. They are taught and interwoven into every unit of the curriculum and are repeated and revisited in each academic year so that we can ensure KS3 is purposeful and challenging for all pupils at TGSA.
Each year group has an overarching theme that is tailored to the pupils’ progression in both education and society. In Year 7 our pupils explore identity; how it has been shaped by those before us and how we will continue to shape it through our own identities. Students read Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and discuss the impact of modern history on society then debate and discuss issues such as prejudice and knife crime in Poetry and the Media. They end the year with a Shakespearean play that holds significant cultural relevance to their home Leicester; Richard III. Year 8 is focused on making thematic connections in texts, strengthening our pupils’ ability to analyse and make links. Pupils start by exploring extracts of Dystopian Fiction then move on to studying Sherlock Holmes, making links between crimes in the 19th century versus crime in modern society. Finally students study The Crucible, again strengthening links between different themes and contexts. Year 9 delves deeper into an exploration of the human psyche, with a focus on outsiders in society. Students read and critique Frankenstein and Othello and are taken on a journey of Poetry through the Ages which exposes them to key issues in different societal contexts.
Much of what we pride our KS3 curriculum on is its contextual relevance to the world our pupils live in as children of the 21st century. Students consider the power of the media, a culture of blame and poor leadership in The Crucible and prejudice and identity in Othello and Frankenstein. Key issues such as climate change and racism are debated and discussed in units such as Dystopian Fiction and Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.
In our KS3 curriculum we give equal weight to a range of literary forms and genres, with a nurturing exposure to a wealth of poetry, drama and novels. Through our choices we hope to encourage students to be meticulous, critical thinkers, to appreciate that English is more than just literacy (though his is embedded throughout KS3 and KS4 study); rather that it is a study of the psychology of human nature and emotion. We hope that through our curriculum students will see English as fervently expressive, with a bountiful range of different ideas which are welcomed by both genders in equal measure. We want students to see their study of English as a lifeline to understanding and contemplating the existence of feeling.
Key Stage Four
Our KS4 curriculum has been through a reformation process to make it more challenging and purposeful for all learners whilst also ensuring that it is engaging and enjoyable as an introduction to the in-depth study of English Literature and Language.
All texts chosen for GCSE are rich in themes and context that allow our pupils to see the importance of literature and its influence on English society and vice versa. Students start the year by delving into the Elizabethan and Jacobean era with Shakespeare’s Macbeth; ambition, regicide and feminism are just a few of the topics that students engage with. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde allows students to debate the human psyche and engage with critical Freudian theory as well as contemplating criminality in the Victorian era and making links to the issues with crime today. As well as this students study the modern play An Inspector Calls, which explores social responsibility and the class system in Britain – this gives students the opportunity to understand the influence of literature on society and makes them contemplate their role in the society they live in. Power and Conflict poetry gives students a breadth and depth of contextual knowledge; poems range from the late 1800s through to modern day and this ensures that any cultural gaps in knowledge can be addressed. On top of this, the themes are universally accessible: power; identity; the individual and the many; and various types of conflict. The poetry is borne out of societal influences and, in most cases, injustices. In the same vein, the poetry has been written to influence society and so students are able to clearly see the link between literature and society.
The array of literature texts that students study complement each other in regards to the themes and ideas they share which allows for strong interleaving opportunities to really cement students’ literary knowledge of the texts. For example, the centrality of Romanticism in the first three poems of the Power and Conflict anthology is a benefit to the students in their study of the other texts; it bolsters their confidence having learned it whilst studying the 19th century novel and exploring topics like the Industrial Revolution but also gives them a foundation of cultural capital to make unseen 19th century texts accessible in the Language papers. Questions of moral and ethical responsibility are central to both The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and An Inspector Calls, allowing pupils to make philosophical links surrounding the individual and society.
Our students also study English Language alongside Literature and this is primarily concerned with how language affects the world around us. We have a strong departmental approach to teaching the skills for these Language papers and we see them as a chance to expand our students’ knowledge of the world and its various influences. Language Paper 1 is concerned with fiction; we see this as an opportunity to expose our students to a wide variety of literary genres and texts so students have a thorough understanding of the literary timeline and how eras link and intertwine. Conversely, Language Paper 2 deals with non-fiction and so allows us the opportunity to build cultural capital in terms of the issues that we choose to cover when exposing students to different texts. We have covered topics such as Brexit, climate change, the rise of nationalism, the music genre grime and feminism. On top of this, we continually strengthen links between Language and Literature by practising the skills of Language questions with Literature texts. We want students to see the study of English as a whole cohesive unit and this is achieved by constantly interleaving the topics they study over the course of the two years.
Lang 1 – expose students to a wide variety of literary genres and texts
Lang 2 – opportunity to build cultural capital in terms of the issues that we choose to cover