Welcome to the English Department

English in the modern secondary school is a broad and diverse subject that explores the many different ways in which we communicate. The English Department at Harrow Way is committed to the development of the creative and academic skills needed to study and create texts across a range of forms and genres, as well as the cultivation of a strong repertoire of oracy and communication skills and the nurturing of individual voice.

The Department leads students to academic success by helping them to appreciate the intrinsic value of learning and creative expression, sharing positive relationships with classes and maintaining high expectations of effort and behaviour. 

The physical and digital book and audio book collections, managed by the Learning Resource Centre, are a valuable addition to the English texts and students are encouraged to borrow regularly.

A summary of our curriculum can be found below. For a more detailed description of the English curriculum, please follow the links to the ‘curriculum overview’, ‘curriculum map’ and ‘curriculum rationale’ documents.

Curriculum Content

Key Stage 3

During Years 7 and 8, students are encouraged to develop their ability to express themselves creatively through reading and discussion of stimulating texts and exploration of the craft of the writer. Speaking and listening skills are developed through discussion and presentation on an individual basis as well as in pairs and groups. In both Year 7 and 8, students practise writing in a range of different forms, compiling and curating a Creative Portfolio; throughout this process there is an ongoing focus on the skills of reflection, redrafting, and editing.

We have endeavoured to create an exciting and varied Year 7 and 8 curriculum, with a separate overarching theme strand for each year. These are ‘Islands and Adventures’ in Year 7 and ‘Lights in the Darkness’ in Year 8. The curriculum consists of the following:

Year 7 – ‘Islands and Adventures’

  • Reading and study of an extract from Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey, involving analysis, discussion, creative writing, and exploration within the context of Greek mythology;
  • Creative portfolio work around the theme of ‘Expeditions and Adventure’;
  • Whole-text study of The Island at the End of Everything – analysis, discussion and creative writing;
  • An introduction to Shakespeare through the study of Pericles, involving textual analysis, discussion and creative work including poetry and transactional writing;
  • An introduction to the study of poetry.
  • An introduction to morphology and etymology.

Year 8 – ‘Lights in the Darkness’

  • An exploration of the oral storytelling tradition, including an extract from the ancient Anglo-Saxon story of Beowulf, as well as folk tales, fairy tales and the stories of the Brothers Grimm;
  • Whole-text study of The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, involving analysis, discussion and creative ‘microfiction’ work around the horror genre;
  • Whole-text study of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, including comparison with The Jungle Book and an introduction to the bildungsroman (‘coming-of-age’) narrative form;
  • An extended creative writing project, involving the conception and planning of an original novel in the bildungsroman style, as well as the writing of a single chapter from this imagined story;
  • Understanding the rules of grammar, including sentence construction and parts of speech.

Year 9 – ‘Identities in Conflict’

The Year 9 Curriculum provides a foundation for higher-level academic study, involving reading and analysis of a range of stimulating texts grouped around the theme of ‘Identities in Conflict’. We have designed a challenging and varied course which encourages students to nurture and develop their critical thinking skills while encouraging them to reflect on and discuss some of the crucial themes and issues playing out in modern society. To support our Year 9 course, we have compiled our own anthology of poetry, prose, drama and nonfiction; this anthology underpins a large part of study and discussion in Year 9.

Our Year 9 curriculum consists of the following:

  • Whole-text study of the classic Young Adult novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton; 
  • Whole-text study of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice;
  • Study and comparison of the literary short stories The Destructors by Graham Greene and Eveline by James Joyce;
  • Creative prose writing;
  • Study and comparison of the short story The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Henrik Ibsen’s classic 19th century play A Doll’s House;
  • Reading, analysis and discussion of excerpts from Lorraine Hansberry’s seminal 20th century play A Raisin in the Sun;
  • Ongoing classroom discussion, debate and presentation based on texts from our Year 9 anthology;

During Year 9, students will compile an ‘Academic Portfolio’, which will consist of a range of analytical pieces, including essays, responding to the various texts that they have studied. Throughout the year, students will refine, redraft and edit their academic work with a view to producing final pieces that showcase the very best of their skills.

Key Stage 4

At GCSE level, we follow the Eduqas GCSE English Language and English Literature Syllabuses.

Year 10

  • Ongoing study of the GCSE poetry anthology;
  • Study of GCSE set text (20th century drama)– Blood Brothers by Willy Russell;
  • Study of GCSE set text (Shakespeare) – Othello;
  • Creative and transactional prose writing;
  • Ongoing classroom discussion, debate and presentation.

Year 11

  • Study of GCSE set text (19th century prose) – A Christmas Carol;
  • Nonfiction prose comparison skills
  • Reading analysis, evaluation and 
  • Revision of Othello and Blood Brothers;
  • Creative and transactional prose writing;
  • Ongoing study of the GCSE poetry anthology;
  • Ongoing exam preparation.

During Year 10 and 11 students will again compile a portfolio of work, which will consist of a range of creative and analytical pieces responding to the GCSE set texts that they have studied. In the GCSE years, students are encouraged to be more independent in how they manage their portfolios, often setting their own essay questions and managing their own time. During Year 11, students will have the opportunity to present and discuss their portfolio work in a formal appraisal with a member of the English teaching team.

Students sit their final GCSE examinations in the summer term of Year 11: two English Language papers and two English Literature papers.