English - St Mary's and St John's CE School



We study English because it gives insight into our world by looking at other characters’ lives and considering how those lives have been presented to us. Our students study texts from different periods, allowing them to learn about a range of social, historical and political contexts, giving them the opportunity to build empathy through the stories of others in order to reflect upon their past, current and future experiences within the world they live.


Year 7

In Year 7, our students read the literary classic, The Short Stories of Sherlock Holmes. Through the entertaining narrative of Dr Watson, students study the writer’s craft whilst becoming embroiled within an array of criminal cases in order to explore how Sherlock uses his power and knowledge for a moral purpose. Following this, our students study Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet which provides them with an opportunity to examine the complexities of love and loyalty within familial, romantic and friendly relationships, and the devastating impacts of prejudice. 

Our students will then have an opportunity to study a number of fantastic poets such as Rumi and Benjamin Zephaniah in order to explore ideas about identity, prior to their reading of Judith Kerr’s When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, a semi-autobiographical classic, which tells the story of a Jewish family escaping Germany in the days before the Second World War. During this unit our students will learnt about the historical contexts and subtly develop skills to support the understanding of speeches delivered by Emmeline Pankhurst & Sojourner Truth to deepen our students understanding of discrimination and gain a greater understanding for the need for justice. And this is why we finish the year with the Foyle Young Poet Competition. Through the teaching of a variety of poetic forms, we give pupils the platform to use their voices to share their viewpoints on current topical issues.

Year 8

In Year 8, our students read the abridged version of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein which will afford them the scope to explore the scientific ethics surrounding Victor Frankenstein’s experiment, through the societal rejection of his creation. This allows our students to question what it means to be human and explore the question: are monsters born or created by the world in which they live? 

Following this study, our students read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to consider how ambition drives us, and the potential it has to be both unifying and destructive and how characters use rhetoric to sway the opinions of others. This will then lead on to a short unit whereby our students can study the famous speeches of Michelle Obama, Lennie James, Winston Churchill and Gandhi to see how these ambitious individuals use their voices to evoke a positive outcome in our global society. 

Students will then to continue to explore the morality of human behaviour with a selection of Roald Dahl’s Short Stories. They will read an array of Roald Dahl’s Short Stories including Lamb to the Slaughter, The Landlady, The Wish, and Beware of the Dog to discuss the moral debate surrounding the concept of violence and revenge. 

Following the study of Roald Dahl, our students will have the opportunity to read contemporary, award-winning Children’s Literature.  With Manon Steffan Ros’ The Blue Book of Nebo, students will explore a post-apocalyptic world set in Wales; whilst Reta Septys’ historical fiction, I Must Betray You will give our students insight into life in Communist Romania through the perspective of a teenage protagonist; what's more, Jessie Burton’s Medusa will allow our students to explore the retelling of an infamous Greek Myth; The Highland Falcon Thief, by M. G. Leonard which will take our students on a humorous, summer adventure with Hal and his uncle; and we will end the unit with the reading of the semi-autobiographical novel, Can You See Me, by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott. Students will meet Tally, our protagonist who ‘think[s] people should know about my autism’ and she wants the ‘world’ to ‘see autism from a different perspective'.  

Our year 8 students will end the year completing a film unit,  gaining an insight into careers in the screen industries whilst simultaneously exploring their own experience of film and how film has evolved over time. Throughout the unit, they will develop their analytical skills by  engaging with short films to explore how films are made and how filmmakers' creative choices convey meaning . This unit has been developed using resources from Into Film: 'the UK’s leading charity for film in education and the community' 

Year 9

By the time students reach Year 9, they are prepared to read the challenging nineteenth century text Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by R.L. Stevenson: they have the liberty to consider the viewpoints of characters within the story as they discuss topics such as loyalty; feelings of panic, fear and the detrimental impact of regret. Students will then study the family poems from the AQA Love and Relationships anthology which explores attitudes to parents and how tensions can arise as we age. 

This follows with the reading of two short stories, A Real Durwan by Jhumpa Lahiri; which tells the story of a Bengal refugee who has been displaced from her family during the cross of the border during the Partition (the formation of India and Pakistan as independent nations, following Great Britain’s departure from India in 1947) years ago for Calcutta. Students will also read My Polish Teachers Tie by Helen Dunmore, which explores the internal thoughts of a character who longs to feel further connected to her heritage. 

Following this, our students study the romantic poems from the AQA Love and Relationships anthology which explores different types of relationships and the complex desires of each poetic speaker. This is a fantastic springboard to support their initial reading of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Students will end the unit by exploring the complex relationship between Lady Macbeth and her husband.  Year 9 students will then end of the year with a reading of Leave Talking by Winsome Pinnock: It is a funny and moving play about the lives and relationships of a British Caribbean mother and her two daughters living in North London. The play is a portrait of three striking women all searching to settle their own sense of identity in very different ways, with layers of conflict at its heart – showing the tensions between two generations; two sisters; the past and the present; individual and society; personal and political.


Year 10

This exploration of a generational divide acts as a foundation for the study of Priestley’s play, An Inspector Calls which is the first text studied in Year 10. Students will explore: consciously constructed characters; symbols and motifs; setting and genre; structure; and authorial purpose in order to sympathetically study the maltreatment of Eva Smith and the devastating consequences that our actions can have on others as well as the need for collective social responsibility. Timed with the Jack Petchey Speak Out challenge, our Year 10 students complete a unit that investigates current affairs and provides the opportunity to share their viewpoints about these issues, which is executed in their written and spoken word. 

Our students then have the chance to revisit Macbeth to explore topic of the tragic hero; the supernatural; loyalty; and violence. Students also have the opportunity to explore their own reactions to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: does Dr Jekyll deserve our sympathy after the heinous crimes committed by his own creation, Hyde? Following this, our students will revisit the Love and Relationships Anthology and will end the year with an introduction to Language Paper 1 which assesses our students’ ability to explore a writer’s craft through the analysis of unseen literature extracts which students will employ in their own creative writing.  

Year 11

In Year 11, our students will have an opportunity to explore their English Literature GCSE texts in further detail by exploring alternative themes, characters and questions to complete their in depth study of An Inspector Calls, by J.B. Priestley; Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, by R.L. Stevenson; Macbeth, by Shakespeare; and The AQA Love and Relationships Anthology. Our students also have further occasion to prepare for their English Language GCSE to develop their skills to summarise, infer, explain, evaluate and compare, and to write in a concise and formal manner with technical accuracy. 

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