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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.


Holy Family Catholic School English Curriculum

'Together we step out in faith, knowing Christ is with us and united as a holy family.'


In English, we look to develop the whole child in terms of the three main areas of English- Reading, Writing and Spoken Language. We aim to do this whilst fostering the virtues embedded within Catholic Character Education. The English curriculum equips students with a holistic understanding and knowledge of the subject that goes beyond ‘teaching to the exam’.

Across Key Stage 3, students are introduced to texts from multiple genres and time periods to ensure that they have wide-ranging knowledge and are able to consider texts in the contexts in which they were written. There is also a greater emphasis on retaining the skills and knowledge obtained at primary school as well as ensuring we are explicitly teaching some of the terminology and knowledge that would have been gathered in the final year of Key Stage 2. The curriculum is sequenced to ensure skills and knowledge are revisited and further developed across the key stage.

Across years 10 and 11, the curriculum is sequenced to ensure full coverage of all of the necessary exams with a reiteration of previously learned content to ensure previously acquired knowledge is retained and deep-learned via a spiral curriculum structure.


The Key Stage 3 learning journey continues to be reshaped and reformed in light of ongoing research from EEF and other sources of authority to allow for iterative learning. A focus has also been placed on modelling within every topic so students can see the processes needed for success; modelling is now a staple feature of schemes of learning.

For every unit across every year group, Formative and Summative assessments are in place in terms of promoting a uniform and formalised approach to assessment. Summative assessments lead to Student reflection and improvement in line with the school learning model. Key stage 3 assessments include the use of ‘No More Marking’ and Chris Curtis’ Reading assessments. This is a further strategy to promote a uniform and consistent approach across the department. Within lessons, a variety of methods of assessments are utilised, including self-assessment, peer-assessment, whole class assessment etc. An emphasis on modelling and knowledge of success criterion allows students to be more discerning when self- and peer-assessing. Assessment at Key Stage 4 is linked closely to required knowledge and skills required for success at examination level with assessment at Key Stage 3 embedding skills and knowledge needed for Key Stage 4.

Active engagement with the subject has been encouraged through the use of the downstairs library and relevant trips along with the use of online platforms so the success of our students can be celebrated and revision material can be added for Year 11. The department run a Grade 7-9 booster class after school, as well as online revision lessons entitled ‘At home with…’ the night before each of the Year 11 Exams.


Through the development of the Key Stage 3 learning journey, students will acquire and develop the necessary skills that will allow them to approach their final examinations with confidence. However, in addition to the rudimentary examination system, students will leave Holy Family being able to write with success across a range of real life situations, such as writing to your local MP. They will have been exposed to a variety of text types across differing time periods and gained an enthusiasm for reading. They will be able to speak confidently and in an assured manner, knowing what makes for successful and coherent speeches. Through the various trips and outside speakers, such as a local copywriter, students’ cultural capital knowledge will have increased as well as an astute awareness of what career areas English can lead into.


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 linguistic methods and structures that they will encounter in the texts they go on to study.

In each of the KS3 years students are exposed to a range of writing styles as well as:

  • A novel
  • A full Shakespeare play
  • A modern play
  • Spoken Language tasks
  • A range of poems from around the world and covering different time periods

The full range of texts studied is available on the curriculum overview for each year group.

KS3 Learning Journey

Year 7

Year 8 

Year 9


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

All students will study the following texts as part of their study of English Literature:

  • Shakespeare Play: Macbeth
  • The 19thCentury Novel: A Christmas Carol
  • Modern Drama: An Inspector Calls
  • Poetry Anthology: Power and Conflict
  • Unseen Poetry

Learning Journey

Year 10

Year 11

Literature Overview

Language Overview