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Saint John Houghton Catholic Voluntary Academy

Learning without limits



‘To make the world wiser’ – Charles Dickens

English is vital for communicating with others in school and in the wider world, and is fundamental to learning in all curriculum areas. In studying English, pupils develop skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing that they will need to participate in society and employment. Pupils learn to express themselves creatively and imaginatively and to communicate with others confidently and effectively.


The Team

Mr C Curtis – Head of English
Miss C Pearce – Teacher of English (Second in Department)
Mrs S Ashley – Teacher of English
Mrs L Riley  – Teacher of English
Mr I Thomson – Teacher of English, House 3 Leader (Bakhita)


Key Stage 3

In Key Stage 3, we endeavour to provide an interesting and stimulating curriculum in four hours a week. All students are given the opportunity to develop their language and literature skills and this is done through a variety of written tasks, reading activities and drama based activities.


Curriculum Overview

In Year 7 students study a range of topics from heroes and villains in literature to Shakespeare plays, as well as exploring ideas in classic and contemporary poetry / fiction and non-fiction.

Year 8 further develop their skills by reading and researching Charles Dickens ‘Great Expectation’ and enjoy writing their own horror stories.

In Year 9 a more in-depth approach to Shakespeare is encouraged by exploring modern interpretations and students study a range of different texts in detail.

In each year, students will study a range of texts, including poetry, Shakespeare, classic literature, a novel and a variety of non-fiction texts.



We expect all students to read at home as part of their weekly homework. We ask students to monitor that reading in a reading log each week/

Additionally, we set students in Years 7 to 9 a weekly homework of spellings.

We expect students to be regularly revising aspects of English so they are prepared for lessons and work in class. We regularly test the knowledge that students need for success.

In addition to this, teachers will set additional homework, which might include planning, drafting and researching an aspect related to English.


Key Stage 4

All students study two GCSEs in English: English Literature GCSE; and English Language GCSE. Both courses are assessed through several exams and there is no coursework or controlled assessment element.


Students are expected to read a wide range of texts (fiction and non-fiction) for the English courses. The exams in Literature are closed book exams. This means that students cannot have a copy of the text in the exam. Therefore, it is important that students read and reread the set texts provided by their class teacher over the two years.


AQA GCSE English


English Language

The English Language GCSE is assessed through two exams at the end of Year 11.


  • Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing (50%)
  • Paper 2: Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives (50%)


Also, students are assessed for their speaking and listening skills throughout the two-year course, but this does not contribute to the final grade of their GCSE. Students are awarded a separate endorsement at the end of the course for their speaking and listening skills.


English Literature

The English Literature GCSE is assessed through two exams at the end of Year 11.


  • Paper 1: Shakespeare and the 19th century novel (40% of GCSE)
  • Paper 2: Modern texts and poetry (60% of GCSE)


The texts students study are:

William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’
Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’
J.B. Priestley’s ‘An Inspector Calls’
AQA’s Power and Conflict Poetry Anthology

There are no tiers in any of the exams. All students are entered for the same exams.

All examinations for the GCSE English courses will take place in the summer of Year 11.


Useful websites for revision and support:
GCSE Bitesize English Literature
Romeo and Juliet Translation – LitCharts Shakescleare
SJH English – YouTube

As a department, we use the PixLit app to help students revise for the GCSE exams.


 Twitter: @SJHEnglishTeam