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English Department

Subject Outline / Aim

At Holy Family Catholic High School we believe that every child should have access to a diverse, rich, and challenging English curriculum. We believe that our curriculum provides students with the opportunity to encounter important cultural touchstones, examine the world around them critically, and develop an understanding and appreciation for the complexity of human life. Through the high quality texts that we read our students are also able to enrich and broaden their vocabulary and develop their skills to become fantastic writers.

Our curriculum is broad, both historically and culturally, and allows students of all abilities to encounter a rich tapestry of texts that speaks to them in some way.

We are developing a reading programme to supplement the taught curriculum and this will be introduced and expanded from the autumn term 2021.


Topics Covered

In KS3 the curriculum is designed to introduce a foundation of core knowledge that will prepare students for the rigorous demands of KS4. There are a number of texts for students to encounter in order for them to better understand the roots of the symbolism and structures that they will encounter in the texts they go on to study.

In each of the KS3 years there is a chance to read:

  • A novel
  • A full Shakespeare play
  • Pre-twentieth century fiction
  • A range of poems from the literary canon and beyond

The full range of texts studied is available on the curriculum overview.


Currently, English homework is a blend of reading and quizzes. This will be reviewed in the autumn term of 2021.

Learning Journey

The learning journey in English begins in the distant past where students understand the foundations of modern literature. As they progress they will see how these foundational elements are present in the texts that they study today.

KS3 Overview 2020 - 21


Assessment Information / Exams

In KS4 students will complete two exams: one in English Language, the other in English Literature. For both of these exams we follow the AQA specification

English Language

The English Language exam comprises of two papers and a spoken language endorsement.

  • Paper 1: Explorations in creative reading and writing
    • Section A – Reading (questions 1-4): Students are given an extract from a novel or short story and answer a series of questions on the text.
    • Section B – Writing (question 5): students are given the option to write a descriptive or narrative piece.
  • Paper 2: Writers’ viewpoints and perspectives
    • Section A – Reading (questions 1-4): Students are given extracts from two non-fiction texts and answer a series of questions on the texts. One of these texts will be pre-twentieth century.
    • Section B – Writing (question 5): students write a piece of non-fiction on a given topic and in a given format.
  • Spoken language endorsement
    • Students prepare a spoken presentation on a specific topic. At Holy Family Catholic High School we ask students to present a short presentation on a topic of their choosing to be given to a small audience. This may be recorded for the purposes of moderation and assessment

English Literature

Due to the impact of Covid-19, the examination of English Literature may change in 2022. However, all students will cover the following texts as part of their study of English Literature:

  • Shakespeare Play: Romeo and Juliet
  • The 19th Century Novel: Frankenstein
  • Modern Drama: An Inspector Calls
  • Poetry Anthology: Power and Conflict
  • Unseen Poetry

Learning Journey