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big ideas final e21c english language.pdf


big ideas final e21c english literature.pdf


The English curriculum at Spires Academy is a high quality, creative and inspiring curriculum. English is the core skill to enable pupils to successfully succeed as they progress throughout their years in education and beyond. At Spires Academy we have created a diverse and coherent curriculum, one that combines a multitude of skills that allow students to not only explore the traditional works of fiction and non-fiction texts, but also provides the opportunity to discuss and explore modern works written by both inspirational male and female writers.  

Our English curriculum encourages students to develop a variety of different writing skills and aims to build student confidence in becoming articulate and confident young speakers.  

We promote reading as a way of acquiring knowledge to enable pupils to explore the world culturally, emotionally, socially, and intellectually. We encourage reading for pleasure across all years to appreciate and learn about our literary heritage as well as the heritage of those from around the world. Students are encouraged to read a variety of texts from a variety of cultures and genders to broaden their knowledge.  

spires ethos: respect, responsibility and resilience

In English we develop respect by:

  • Allowing others to talk by developing speaking and listening skills
  • Discussing modern day topics and issues, modelling how to express opinion and ideas in a respectful way 
  • Exploring the development of gender and their roles and responsibilities within society- allowing students to discuss change.   

In English we develop responsibility by: 

  • Expecting students to take pride in their work, following a strict presentation policy
  • Encouraging paired or group interactivity to allow students to become independent learners and take responsibility for developing their learning
  • Setting weekly homework that allows students to develop their knowledge around the topics in class- asking students to be responsible for deepening their knowledge.

 In English we develop resilience by: 

  • Asking students to write for long periods of time in exam conditions 
  • Encouraging students to improve their own work by using teacher feedback, building resilience, and taking accountability for their own knowledge  
  • Encouraging students to push themselves, achieving above and beyond by setting challenging tasks.  

Whole school intent: inclusive

 In English we ensure our curriculum is inclusive by:

  • Scaffolding by personalising the learning based on individual student need
  • Explicitly teaching Tier 2 and 3 vocabularies to develop students’ literacy and academic confidence.

Tier 2 Vocabulary

Tier 3 Vocabulary

The English Curriculum is inclusive because we study, explore, and discuss texts from all around the world, exploring different cultures and beliefs. We discuss modern topics like gender, diversity in society and political, social, and environmental issues. We explore diversity through a range of resources: documentaries, articles, reports, and fictional accounts. We allow for all students to take part in discussions and present their work.

whole school intent: focused

In English we identify powerful knowledge to ensure we have a good understanding of it as a prerequisite for understanding other related content. 

By clearly identifying the powerful knowledge in each unit, teachers can ensure that their teaching and assessment is focused on the content that makes the biggest difference. 

We share this with students and their families using Knowledge Organisers:

Year 7 English Knowledge Organisers

Year 8 English Knowledge Organisers

Year 9 English Knowledge Organisers

Year 10 & 11 English Knowledge Organisers

whole school intent: sequenced

In English we sequence our curriculum using spaced practice. This means large areas of knowledge are broken into smaller chunks, with intervals of time between them, to improve pupil learning and recall.

English Curriculum Map


In English we ensure our curriculum is coherent using several Big Ideas that underpin all the learning in our subject. Each lesson is linked to a Big Idea, shared with the students at the start of the lesson, so they can call on prior learning and understand where each lesson fits within our curriculum. 

Our Big Ideas are: 

Literature Big Ideas:

  • Context: students explore the different social, cultural, and political backgrounds that influence the writer’s work. This ranges from the 16th-21st century.
  • Change: students explore how characters go on a path of change due to multiple factors and events.
  • Power: students explore the different sides to power- the abuse and corruption of power, the power of genders, identity, and voice. Students explore power struggles that have evolved over the years.
  • Identity: students explore different identities, exploring the changes within the 21st century and the impact these changes have on the shaping and development of character.
  • Relationships: students to explore the different types of relationships through themes of love, power, gender, family and politics.
  • Social Responsibility: students will learn the importance of social responsibility through ideologies of socialism, capitalism, Marxism as well as their role within society today.  

Language Big Ideas:

  • Perspective and Purpose: students will explore a multitude of texts from different points of view, exploring first and third hand accounts.
  • Vocabulary: students explore a wide range of tier 2 and 3 vocabulary across the exploration of fiction and non-fiction texts.
  • Inference: students explore the deeper meanings of texts.
  • Structure: students will explore and analyse the way writers shape their texts to influence the reader.
  • Effect on Reader: students will explore why vocabulary and structure effects readers on a personal level and why the writer’s intended for this.
  • Techniques and Methods: students will explore a wide range of language methods and techniques and explore the meaning behind each chosen method.
  • Compare and contrast: students will have the opportunity to discuss the similarities and differences between a wide variety of texts taken from all across the world, exploring the key differences and similarities and their influence.

KS4 Qualifications

AQA GCSE English Language (8700)
Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing Paper 2: Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives  Non-examination Assessment: 
1 hour and 45 minutes 1 hour and 45 minutes

Spoken Language

  • Presenting 
  • Responding to questions and feedback 
  • Use of standard English 
You answer four reading questions on one text You answer four reading questions on two texts
You undertake on creative writing piece You undertake one non-fiction writing piece Assessed by teacher
50% of total marks 50% of total marks 0% of total marks but required by National Curriculum 

The biggest help you can give your child is by ensuring they read widely, including non-fiction newspaper articles every day. 


AQA GCSE English Literature (8702) 
Paper 1: Shakespeare and the 19th Century Novel  Paper 2: Modern Texts and Poetry 
1 hour and 45 minutes 2 hours and 15 minutes 

1 essay question on a Shakespeare text

1 essay question on a 19th century novel 

1 essay question on a modern text

1 essay comparing two poems we have studied

1 short essay analysing an unseen poem

1 short essay comparing two unseen poems 

40% of the total marks  60% of the total marks 

The texts we study are:

  • “Macbeth”
  • ‘’A Christmas Carol’’
  • “Animal Farm” or “An Inspector Calls”
  • The Power and Conflict cluster from the AQA poetry anthology

enrichment opportunities

  • Creative Writing Workshops 
  • University Trips 
  • Work with the Charles Dickens Society 
  • Speak Out programme 
  • Debating workshops 

progression routes

Teaching - a PGCE in Education (this can be different ages ranges, from Primary, Secondary to higher education) You can also receive a Masters in Education or any aspect of Literature.

The Media and Journalism (a Batchelors of Arts in Media and Journalism) 

Law (Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies/ Master of Legal Studies (MLS)  

Creative Writers (Batchelor of Arts in Creative Writing)  

Performers/ Actors (BTECs/A LEVELS in Performing Arts/ Signing to bespoke performing arts agencies)  

Public Speaking