At Stoke Newington School, the English department prides itself in supporting students in both a creative and purposeful environment where they feel safe to express their ideas, and to challenge themselves to try their best. Teachers are committed to engaging and supporting all students, irrespective of their background or prior attainment. Through reading, writing and discussion, our aim is for students to develop inquisitive and critical minds for life-long learning, to take pleasure in reading, and to develop empathy and understanding of others. Moreover, we want students to be suitably equipped and confident, knowing how to use both written and spoken language to empower themselves for an exciting and promising future.

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English at Key Stage 3

We start Key Stage 3 in English with a memorable and creative response to Neil Gaiman’s Coraline culminating in whole creative day exploration of story writing and art. We continue by reading a range of high quality, engaging and challenging texts which reflects our community. Our curriculum is designed to ensure that pupils read whole texts because we recognise the importance of students being given the opportunity to immerse themselves in a text, to develop their own interpretations, and to explore layers of meaning.

We teach in mixed ability groups throughout Key Stage 3 with support and appropriate levels of challenge for students who need it. Lessons are varied, encompassing discussion, imaginative writing, oracy and performance. In Year 9 we focus on the skills required for GCSE whilst keeping a broad and relevant curriculum. To help encourage reading for pleasure, students spend one lesson a fortnight in the library where they can choose books to take home.

Year 7

Our theme for the Year 7 is Heroes and Villains and this theme is explored in a variety of ways and contexts across the Schemes of Work. Students have a broad diet of literature over the year, from canonical texts such as ‘A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream’ and ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, to more contemporary writing such as Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’. Over the year we aim to introduce the students to the key skills requisite for their transition to secondary school English, such as analytical writing with a focus on the effect of key quotations.

Students also have ample opportunity to respond to texts creatively, with two creative writing units encouraging students to write in genre – the spooky Gothic unit in Term 1, and the Detective Fiction unit in Term 4. Students are encouraged to be ambitious and adventurous in their descriptive language and begin sharing their work confidently. The combination of analysis and creativity is found in our Poetry unit, where students consider Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ before writing and performing their own spoken word writing.

This emphasis on confidence is further developed in the final term where we shift to a non-fiction focus. Students develop their oracy in Term 5 where they write persuasive speeches and pitches, with a focus on what makes powerful non-fiction writing. Finally, students consider writing in advertising and work in groups to develop an advertising campaign. Students also have weekly Library lessons for silent reading.

Students’ learning will be supported by homework on ‘Bedrock Vocabulary’ – an online programme that helps develop literacy and vocabulary. This is continued in Year 8.

Year 7 curriculum map | Year 7 assessment grid

Year 8

The thematic focus for Year 8 is Journeys and this theme is explored in a variety of contexts across the year. The focus for the whole of the Autumn term is focussed around reading Zana Fraillon’s The Bone Sparrow with its themes of journeying and belonging. Students read the story of Subhi, a Rohingya refugee in an Australian detention centre over the whole term and respond to the novel in a variety of ways, from analysis of the story to reviewing it as a novel.

In the first Spring half term, students explore narrative structure through examining a diverse range of short stories linked to the theme of fantastical journeys. Students read a range of short stories across time and genre and will apply narrative structuring techniques to their own pieces of creative writing.

In half term four, students focus on journalistic writing that focusses on getting students to research and write their own website articles focussed on real life journeys of people they are linked to. The focus of the unit is to develop a range of journalistic skills from questioning and interviewing to drafting and redrafting copy. The aim is for students to get their stories chosen to be published on the school’s website.

Students then move on to Poetry in the Summer term. This unit offers students an exposure to a diverse range of writers, styles, and forms of poetry with a focus on more contemporary voices.

The year is rounded off with a creative response to Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Students study Shakespeare’s story of a magician on an Island and the shipwreck he causes, then respond by writing their version of a chosen scene.

As in Year 7, students have weekly Library lessons and homework on ‘Bedrock Vocabulary’.

Year 8 curriculum map | Year 8 assessment grid
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English at Key Stage 4

Year 9

Year 9 is a bridging year between Key Stage 3 and 4. While we retain the creativity and breadth of the Key Stage 3 curriculum, we focus on consolidating the skills required for the beginning of the GCSE curriculum in Year 10. We begin the year with an intensive and whole text exploration of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and later examine George Orwell’s Animal Farm. These units are marked against the GCSE criteria for literature and prepare the student for their study of our chosen GCSE texts.

Similarly, the Non-Fiction units are geared towards persuasive writing and writing for real audiences which will prepare students for the types of tasks required for the Language GCSE. Students also spend a term working on Dystopian writing, teaching them to write creatively within a certain genre, building on the work of the Gothic and Detective creating writing units at KS3. Towards the end of the year, we begin our transition to the study of GCSE content through the introduction and teaching of a selection of the poems on the GCSE Power and Conflict Poetry Anthology. In the last half term, students then develop their speech writing skills and present a speech which will count towards the spoken language element of their English Language GCSE.

Year 10 and Year 11

Our varied and challenging Key Stage 4 course equips students with the skills and knowledge they need in order to achieve both their English Language and English Literature GCSE qualifications, for which our exam board is AQA.

Over the Literature course, all students will study Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, J.B Priestley’s An Inspector Calls and a range of poetry from the AQA Power & Conflict anthology. In doing so, students are encouraged to explore not just how writers craft their language to convey meanings, but also how the themes and issues of these texts can be related to from both a modern perspective but also decolonised perspective.

For Language, students will learn to read a range of fiction and non-fiction texts critically, as well as to develop their own creative and journalistic writing skills. Alongside this, students complete a Spoken Language assessment in order to help develop their confidence in public speaking.

We organise our Key Stage 4 content along a spiral curriculum in which we cover all the Literature texts and Language Exam skills in Year 10 and then return to them in Year 11, allowing us much more time to focus on recalling knowledge and teaching the exam writing skills in more depth.

Alternative Pathways: Step Up To English | Level: Gold/Sliver | Key stage 4

In Year 9, students will complete Silver Step of the Step-Up to English qualification. Step up to English is an Entry Level course which helps students build relevant literacy skills. Students will develop the skills they need to read and understand a range of texts as well as to write clearly, consistently and accurately using a range of vocabulary and sentence structures. Students will complete three topic based assessments based on topics decided by AQA.

In Year 10, students will complete Gold Step of the Step-Up to English qualification. Step up to English is an Entry Level course which helps students build relevant literacy skills. Students will develop the skills they need to read and understand a range of texts as well as to write clearly, consistently and accurately using a range of vocabulary and sentence structures. Students will complete three topic based assessments based on topics decided by AQA.

In Year 11, students will complete any of the units from Gold Step of Step-Up to English which they may not have completed in year 10. Once students have passed this qualification they will follow a bespoke revision programme to enhance their English Literature GCSE qualification.

Year 9 curriculum map | Year 10 curriculum map | Year 11 curriculum map

English key stage 4 resources
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Students study a variety of texts as they prepare for GCSEs

English at Key Stage 5

At A-Level, we believe in a daring, original approach to literature, encouraging students to read diverse, mature and often challenging texts from the canon and beyond. We believe in discussion-based learning that allows students to develop their own interpretations of texts, examining how writers create meaning, and how these ideas remain relevant to our world today.

Our diverse approach encourages original ideas about texts and the contexts in which they were written to give students an appreciation of how literature has developed over time. We want students to develop deeper thinking as well as crafting of written responses through in-class writing and coursework.

Using the OCR Exam Board, our A-Level literature programme aims to build on reading and writing skills developed at GCSE. We expect students to read widely and independently because we want to see our students leaving us with the ability to be confident and successful at the next stage of life, whether that be in higher education or the world of work.

English Curriculum Map Year 12 | English Curriculum Map Year 13


We understand that students often thrive best when their learning is also an experience. Therefore, we endeavour to provide a range of enrichment opportunities, from Year 7 through to Year 13. These include:

  • experiencing Shakespeare in performance
  • theatre trips
  • using drama to engage with texts
  • visiting a local nature reserve to help inspire creative writing
  • increased use of project-based homework
  • lectures
  • writing competitions (in school and national)
  • opportunities for KS5 students to mentor English students in KS3/4
  • Writing for real life audiences
  • Revision sessions
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Trips to central London to study our capital's rich literary history

Career and future pathways

Students' study of English will leave pupils confident in their ability to express themselves, both in speech and writing. In addition, over the seven years here, their social, cultural and historical understanding will have been enriched by the wealth and variety of literature and topics studied and discussed on a daily basis.