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What will I learn?

The English Department aims for excellence in all areas of the curriculum. We aspire to foster in our students a love of language and literature, and to build the confidence to express themselves with clarity, insight and flair. Pupils read a wide variety of fiction, poetry and drama; combined with a focus on clear and structured writing, excellent teaching and a vibrant series of department trips, we provide enthusiasm and depth to the study of English, both inspiring and challenging our students.

Year 7 

In the first year of their secondary education; the English Department whisk Year 7 through the magical world of English Literature through the study of novels, poetry and plays.

Beginning the term with a unit based on autobiographical writing, Year 7 use Roald Dahl’s Boy: Tales of Childhood and extracts from the life and times of Helen Keller to explore the conventions of this written genre, creating a soundtrack to their own lives and writing creatively and excitingly to tell their own stories.

During the year, the students are also treated to a globally renowned, timeless master of lexicons; William Shakespeare. Through the study of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Year 7 students develop an awareness of, and appreciation for, the evolution of the great English language.

Through the close analysis of language; the uncovering of multi-modal layers and the broadening of one’s own imagination through a module on Poetry; the Year 7 Curriculum aims to truly inspire and develop an appreciation of fine writing.

To conclude their year, the pupils spend time planning, writing, editing and publishing their own piece of Creative Writing. A thoroughly enjoyable period of study!

Year 8 

“Daunting, dark, mysterious and fear-inducing.”

No, not the Curriculum of Year 8, but their opening Unit of Study: Gothic Literature. A genre of multiple layers; this scheme is, in essence, an exploration that students enjoy as they re-discover their inner love of gore, tension and horror.

‘Childhood’ is a true focus for our Year 8 pupils and, in preparation for their GCSE studies, we introduce them to 19th Century Literature as we explore the concept of Victorian Childhood in text. The presentation and representation of characters in the works of such authors as Charles Dickens and William Blake will help our pupils understand how texts create reference points both socio-historically and in terms of a springboard for their own creativity.

Year 8 also engage with Poetry and a Novel Study, however, their childhood focus is brought to creative fruition when they study the process of Language Acquisition and Multimodal Text Production in order to create a bespoke text for a pupil in Key Stage 2 – a truly creative Unit of Work that draws upon many Language and Literature skills

Year 9 

The primary focus of Year 9 is about preparation for the GCSE Programme of Study. To this end, Year 9 study one of the most recent GCSE texts, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. A tale of friendship, love and dreams; Year 9 uncover the art of social commentary and revel in the richness of such a text.

With such a weighting on Poetry at GCSE, pupils are given the AQA: Moon on the Tides anthology and use selected poems, covering a range of themes and periods of time, to explore how poetry is read and written. Students are taught how to analyse and write about poetry in a way that allows them to unlock the poets’ intentions and explore their own understanding and interpretations of modern and classic works.

Using the facilities available to us here, we also tackle the great Shakespearean work Macbeth in Year 9. Pupils are encouraged to delve in to the meaning of both the linguistics of the text as well as the dramatic opportunities available. The poetry and descriptive nature of this text really enthuses and inspires our students who become quite adept at creating written work of a mystical quality!


During the years of GCSE study, students are expected to be critical readers and thinkers; deeply analytical writers and to utilise all of the skills that have been taught and developed throughout Key Stage 3.

The AQA Specification for GCSE permits a large deal of flexibility in terms of teaching and learning and we strive to make the most of this by exploiting the modules that develop well-rounded students of English.

Poetry is a lyrical form of the written word that often defies all standard rules and conventions. During the GCSE course, students analyse, in depth, a range of contemporary poems and poetry that is from our vast literary heritage in order to understand how this art form has impacted on wider society. We examine thematics; the concepts of power, conflict and oppression and begin to delve into how poetry is not simply an art form, but a vehicle for understanding of other text forms. We also compare poetry, poetic techniques, forms and structures from poems we know and those we do not in order to rehearse the valuable examination skill of comparing unseen poetry.

Macbeth is our Shakespeare play of choice at Hill House School and allows us to flow seamlessly from our work on poetry. Notwithstanding the ‘dagger’ scene; GCSE pupils explore the ideas of ‘conflict’, ‘representations of women’ and ‘power’ and the ways in which these diametrically opposed themes are so often intertwined. The use of play scripts, critical essays, media resources and theatre visits, allow our students the opportunity to experience Shakespeare in truly immersive way, building on their early experience of the Bard in Key Stage 3.

Texts are studied throughout the course, drawn from the 19th Century Literature collection and from Post-1914 Literature. A festive romp through Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is succeeded by a more sombre exploration of An Inspector Calls or DNA as we explore both the human condition and how writers present this. The examination of these texts relies heavily on the student’s knowledge of language, their ability to analyse it and their effective communication of this. The units of work teach the skills required to do this efficiently and articulately.

Creative Writing is also examined at GCSE and is taught using a range of interactive, creative and thought-provoking approaches. Pupils learn to use their senses as springboards for writing and explore a variety of structures to zoom in on the details needed to bring to life a descriptive piece and to manage the minutiae of narrative-based writing.

Overall, the linear GCSE creates well-read pupils who write well, write confidently and can illustrate their abilities and love of this most important of subjects.