Hathershaw College




Curriculum Intent


  • To engage students and foster a love of English and of reading to improve language skills and ensure those facing disadvantage are lifted from educational poverty
  • To inspire an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage, and to encourage students to read widely and often by providing access to books that are not widely available to them within the community
  • To mitigate against low levels of literacy on entry and provide students with the literacy and communication skills they will need to become useful members of society
  • To encourage creativity in order to develop independent, confident and resilient learners
  • To create a culture where students take pride in their writing, and can write clearly and accurately, adapting their language and style for a range of contexts
  • To grow cultural capital by providing students with a range of opportunities and experiences both within and outside the classroom
  • To respond to texts thoughtfully and personally using their widened cultural capital to do so
  • To inspire students to be confident in speaking and to learn how to discuss effectively
  • To nurture an appreciation and tolerance of the perspectives, experiences and cultures of others and celebrate the rich diversity of our multi-cultural school community
  • To nurture students to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially, morally and spiritually
  • To ensure that students make excellent progress and achieve the highest possible grades to enable them to realise their aspirations of further education or employment and give them the best life chance possible.

Within Media Studies

  • To develop an awareness of the way that the modern world is shaped and influenced by the media
  • To encourage students to be critical of information presented to them and make informed decisions about the information they consume


Curriculum Overview



Text focus: ‘Othello’ by William Shakespeare
Study of the archetype of the villain through fiction extracts from various periods.  Texts include Stoker’s Dracula and Rowling’s Voldermort among others and culminate in an in-depth exploration of Shakespeare’s play ‘Othello’ and his manipulative malcontent Iago. 


Text focus: ‘Private Peaceful’ by Michael Morpurgo
Study of the novel ‘Private Peaceful’ by Michael Morpurgo alongside non-fiction extracts and war poetry all influenced by the theme of war.  Skills will include essay writing in response to a literary text, language analysis of prose and poetry, narrative writing and transactional writing. 

Dickens’ Characters

Text focus: ‘Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens
Further study of fiction and non-fiction texts, focusing on the works of Charles Dickens and character types such as the loveable rogue Jack Dawkins in the classic novel ‘Oliver Twist’.  Moves onto Dickens’ non-fiction writing and comparing these with modern non-fiction texts in the form of 21st century newspaper articles. 



Text focus: non-fiction
Study of fiction and non-fiction extracts and poetry all featuring the theme of survival.  Skills will include essay writing in response to a literary text, language analysis, evaluation skills, narrative writing and transactional writing. 


Text focus: ‘The Merchant of Venice’ by William Shakespeare
Study of the play alongside non-fiction contextual extracts and big issues such as racism, intolerance and gender. Developing student’s knowledge of context towards a more mature and thematic understanding of the social-political world of the 16th-17th Century.  Culminates with students writing analytically about the writer’s intention.

Developing writing skills, practising the process of planning, crafting and editing while exploring writing for different audiences and purposes such as argue, persuade and describe.  Focus on developing the use of language and structure for effect.
Study of an eclectic mix of poetry about various cultures and themes.  Creatively develop their own poetry.

Modern Drama

Text focus: ‘The Crucible’ by Arthur Miller or ‘Our Day Out’ by Willy Russell
Study of a modern play.  Alongside studying the plot, characters and themes of the play they will focus on evaluation skills, transactional writing and descriptive writing in response to an image.

American Literature

Text focus: ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck
Study of John Steinbeck’s novella with a focus on the author’s use of language, structure and characterisation and the context of 1930’s America.

Twentieth Century Literature

Text focus: ‘An Inspector Calls’ by J.B. Priestley
Study of J.B. Priestley’s play with a focus on key themes such as responsibility, selfishness and the generation gap alongside the contextual factors of class and gender in Britain in 1912 and 1945.



AQA GCSE Language Paper 1 Scheme

Study of all of the reading and writing questions covering language analysis, analysis of structure, evaluation, descriptive and narrative writing

 ‘A Christmas Carol’ Scheme

Study of Dickens’ novella for the AQA GCSE Literature Paper 1.  Focus on key themes such as redemption and social justice alongside the contextual factors of the Victorian period
Literature Retrieval tasks: ‘An Inspector Calls’

‘Romeo and Juliet’ Scheme

Study of Shakespeare’s tragedy for the AQA GCSE Literature Paper 1.  Focus on key themes such as love and hate, conflict and destiny alongside the contextual factors of the Elizabethan period

Literature Retrieval tasks: ‘A Christmas Carol’

AQA GCSE Language Paper 2 Scheme

Study of all of the reading and writing questions covering synthesis, language analysis, comparison of writers’ perspectives and transactional writing

AQA Spoken Language

Completion of a presentation and interview

AQA Power & Conflict Poetry Scheme 1

Study of poems from the GCSE anthology: ‘Ozymandias’, ‘Bayonet Charge’, ‘London’, ‘War Photographer’, ‘Prelude’, ‘Exposure’, ‘Storm on the Island’
Literature Retrieval tasks: ‘Romeo and Juliet’


AQA GCSE Language Paper 2 revision

Revision of Language Paper 2 skills and questions 

AQA Power & Conflict Poetry Scheme 2

Study of poems from the GCSE anthology: ‘Emigree’, ‘Checking Out Me History’, ‘My Last Duchess’, ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’, ‘Tissue’ 
Literature Retrieval tasks: ‘Romeo and Juliet’

AQA GCSE Language Paper 1 revision

Revision of Language Paper 1 skills and questions 

AQA Spoken Language

Completion of a presentation and interview 

‘A Christmas Carol’ Past Paper revision

Literature Retrieval tasks: ‘Power and Conflict’ and Unseen Poetry


AQA GCSE Language Paper 2 writing

Practice of writing skills for argue and persuade

 ‘An Inspector Calls’ Past Paper revision

Literature Retrieval tasks: ‘A Christmas Carol’

AQA GCSE Language Paper 1 writing Practice of writing skills for narrative writing and description 

‘Romeo and Juliet’ Past Paper revision


Retrieval tasks: Mixed retrieval of all literature texts


AQA GCSE Language and Literature revision

Revision of both language paper 1 and 2 and literature papers 1 and 2 
Literature Retrieval tasks:  Mixed retrieval of all literature texts


To download this table, please click below.

Curriculum Overview KS3 2021-22

Curriculum Overview KS4 2021-22


Medium Term Plans











English SMSC Statement


During KS3 English, students study many aspects of SMSC and British Values. They begin their study of English with the concept of villains allowing them to explore the differences between right and wrong and the moral issues within the context of each text they study. For example, themes of racism, jealousy, manipulation and trust (or a lack of it) are explored in ‘Othello’ by William Shakespeare.

Issues of identity are explored in texts such as ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley early on in students’ English learning journey and as this is a nineteenth century text students are encouraged to think about how attitudes are different now and how things have changed over time. Another example of this is the portrayal of the Rule of Law in Dickens’ ‘Oliver Twist’. Within this text students analyse extracts centred around the Parish and discuss how this is the unit of administration for the Poor Law. They understand the writer’s purpose as the text is a sustained attack by Dickens on the British Poor Laws, a complex body of law that forced poor families to labour in prison-like "workhouses.". One of the novel's effects is, simply, to describe what poverty was like in nineteenth century England. Students can then make links to laws and government policies today such as benefits and food banks.

Extracts studied from ‘Oliver Twist’ and ‘Great Expectations’ also link to attitudes towards poverty, prejudice towards the poor, criminality, the importance and power of religion within the community, taking responsibility and tolerance of others.

Throughout KS3 students study various authors and playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens and form an understanding of their place within the canon and their British literary heritage.

The class reader canon across Y7 and Y8 is carefully chosen to ensure students experience a variety of texts by authors from diverse backgrounds such as Bali Rai, Benjamin Zephaniah, Onjali Rauf, George Orwell and Padraig Kenny. The class reader series covers a range of themes and includes titles such as: ‘Tin’, ‘Welcome to Nowhere’, ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ in Y7 and ‘Roll of Thunder’, ‘(Un)arranged Marriage’ and ‘Face’ in Y8.

We endeavour to explore some challenging topics in the texts we read and study and some of the stories contain strong, racist language. We feel it is important that we do not censor this language and that students are able to learn about the history and source of some of this language in the context of the text and learn why it is wrong to use it in any other context. We follow Benjamin Zephaniah’s lead when he said in the author’s note of his book ‘Windrush Child’: ‘I think I would be cheating readers if I were to gloss over some of the language that is used by racists.’ To erase such language from our canon would risk students mistakenly believing that it had never existed. At Hathershaw we strongly believe it is important to confront this language in order to provoke thought and discussion.

Moving into KS4 and their study of GCSE English Language students continue to read and discuss a wide variety of texts centred around various themes including personal trauma, survival, endurance, extreme weather, sports, transport and schools. The texts cover the different experiences of people from all over the world with many different cultures, races and nationalities so they learn to understand, accept, respect and celebrate diversity in their own experiences through reading about other peoples’.

For GCSE English Literature, students study a broad range of literary texts and explore the challenging themes which these texts encompass. When reading the modern play ‘An Inspector Calls’, students study themes of social injustice, responsibility, social class, prejudice and gender roles within society in 1912 and 1945 in comparison to modern day society. When reading Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ students focus on the key themes of love, death, age, identity, gender, revenge and marriage which all link to aspects of SMSC. The plot also looks carefully at the consequences of people’s behaviours and actions and the importance of mutual respect and tolerance. In particular, students study the patriarchal society of the Elizabethan times as important historical context for the play and how this differs to today’s society. For both of these plays, students use their imaginations and creativity to study this text as a construct designed to be performed on stage and discuss different dramatic adaptations of the play.

Students also study poems at GCSE which include themes of personal and worldwide conflicts and they are asked to consider their own understanding of the issues raised in this poetry. The poems cover issues such as World War I and the Troubles, the freedom of choice in war, or lack of it and propaganda. Equality for all and the fight for democracy are explored through views on power and conflict in different contexts. Ideas of fairness and liberty are discussed when the poems present a lack of social injustice and ideas of freedom of thought and freedom of speech are visited through poetry from the Romantic Era. Students explore poetry that facilitates their understanding of the society that they inhabit today, thus increasing their sense of identity.

Students often work together in English, discussing ideas and using debate to practise presenting their viewpoints publicly with confidence and flair. This involves students developing a range of social skills and working with those from different backgrounds, often outside of their normal friendship group. This provides good preparation for life in the work place and modern Britain.