‘Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time.’

Edwin Whipple

Curriculum Intent

The English Department strives to inspire an appreciation for the English language and its literature, and to cultivate its effective use in creative expression and day-to-day life.  As a Department we encourage intellectual independence by stressing creative, critical thinking combined with informed reading and interpretation. The English Department team seek to teach language and literature from a range of perspectives while developing inquiring, knowledgeable and independent young learners.

At Key Stages 3, 4 and 5 we have a varied and diverse curriculum that allows our students to improve their literacy skills as well as develop the skills of reflection, resilience and resourcefulness.

Key Stage 3 English 

St Bonaventure’s English Department KS3 Curriculum


Genre and Theme



Main assessment underlined

Year 7

Term 1

Class reader: teacher choice

Transition to KS3

Prose Fiction: Short Stories

Reading, analysing, planning and writing short stories. Introducing essay-writing.

Reading: guided essay writing

Writing: planning and writing the opening of a short story

Verse Drama: Shakespeare’s Macbeth




Studying Shakespeare through drama, oral performance, reading, analysis and understanding contexts. 

Reading: supported essay writing

Spoken language: soliloquy


Year 7

Term 2

Class reader: teacher choice then My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece


Prose Non-fiction: The Art of Rhetoric

Reading, listening to and analysing speeches. Planning, writing, and performing persuasive speeches. 



Writing:  planning and writing a non-fiction speech 

Spoken language: delivering a speech

Prose Narrative Fiction and Non-fiction: Travel and Adventure 

Reading literary fiction and non-fiction travel texts. Planning and writing non-fiction, descriptive travel narrative.

Writing:planning and writing creative non-fiction travel article

Reading: close analysis of a travel text

Year 7

Term 3

Class reader: The Other Side of Truth 

Verse: Poetry.

Prose Fiction: Novel Study –The Other Side of Truth

Reading, analysing, writing, and performing poetry.

Study of a novel through contexts, themes, exploring character, voice and narrative structure alongside developing independent analytical and creative writing skills. 

End of Year 7 Exam:

Independent re-reading and writing short essays

Independent creative narrative and descriptive planning and writing

Year 8 

Term 1

Class reader: Coram Boy

Prose and Verse Fiction: Gothic Literature 

Reading and analysing the form, language and content of Gothic texts alongside developing independence in planning and crafting creative Gothic writing.

Writing: planning and writing the opening of a Gothic story

Reading of an extract from a Gothic text for essay writing

Prose Fiction: Novel Study – Coram Boy

Study of a novel in context, focusing on the analysis of character and theme. Developing independence in essay planning and writing.

Reading: planning and writing a thematic essay on character in context

Writing: re-creative writing in role

Year 8 Term 2

Class reader: Coram Boy then The Outsiders or teacher choice

Verse Poetry: Poetry Around the World Study of the form, structure and language of poetry from around the world.  Introducing comparison of texts. Reading: supported comparison essay 

Writing: poetry

Prose Non-fiction: The Truth is Stranger than Fiction

Close study of the construction of fictional and non-fictional prose texts on the theme of the uncanny to develop creative writing in the non-fiction genre.

Writing: creative non-fiction  planning and writing a descriptive article

Reading: close analysis of how a writer uses language

Year 8 Term 3

Class reader: The Outsiders/ teacher choice

Drama and Verse: Shakespearean Comedy- The Merchant of Venice

Reading Shakespearean comedy in context, focusing on themes, character and the use of rhetoric. Planning and writing rhetorical non-fiction.

End of Year 8 Exam:

Independent re-reading and writing short essays

Independent planning and writing rhetorical non-fiction

Year 9 Term 1

Class reader: Of Mice and Men and A View from the Bridge

Prose-fiction, Modern Drama and Non-fiction: American Literature

Reading and studying the novel, Of Mice and Men and the modern drama A View from the Bridge both written and set in 20th century America. Exploring texts through contexts, genres, themes and characterisation. Developing independence in essay-writing.

Reading: analytical essay writing for both texts

Writing: re-creative descriptive narrative 

Writing: re-creative non-fiction account of an event 

Year 9  Term 2

Class reader: teacher choice

Prose, Verse, and Non-fiction: The Age of Imperialism

Reading a range of 18th and 19th century  texts based on ideas emerging from this age of imperialism. Key themes are science, religion, patriarchy, racism, xenophobia, class and injustice.Developing independent writing skills in planning and crafting as students progress towards KS4.

Writing: a re-creative description

Reading: analytical essay writing

Reading: comparative essay writing

Writing: a non-fiction re-creative rhetorical piece

Year 9  Term 3

Class reader: teacher choice

Transition to KS4

Non-fiction and Verse: Rhetoric, Power and Conflict

Reading a range of non-fiction texts on the theme of power and conflict, along with two poems from their GCSE poetry anthology. An introduction to GCSE English Language, responding to texts independently, and independently planning and writing rhetorical opinion pieces.

End of Year 9 Exam: 

Independent reading and writing short essays

Independent planning and writing rhetorical non-fiction

Grammar, spelling, vocabulary, punctuation and sentencing knowledge and skills are integral to and assessed in all units and assessment tasks. Spoken language skills are integral to all units of work.

Key Stage 4 English – Overview

As part of their two-year KS4 course at St Bonaventure’s, pupils study towards GCSEs in English Language and English Literature under the combined theme of Power and Conflict. We teach the AQA syllabus, details of which can be found at the bottom of this page by clicking the exam specifications link.

In Year 10, pupils study fiction and nonfiction texts for Paper 1 and 2 of the English Language course, and, for English Literature Paper 2, the play An Inspector Calls, poems from the AQA Poetry Anthology and Unseen Poetry. 

In Year 11, pupils study a play by William Shakespeare and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens for English Literature Paper 1, and then go on to complete extensive revision for their final exams.


More recommended reading:

Mr Pip by Lloyd Jones

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Brighton Rock by Graham Greene

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

I’m the King of the Castle by Susan Hill

The Collected Stories by Katherine Mansfield

Children of Men by P.D. James

Key Stage 5 English Literature – Overview

Students study a range of literature texts, including poetry, plays and novels, developing their analytical and critical responses to these texts. They follow the OCR syllabus, and the link to the specification is provided on this page.


Component 1; Hamlet, A Doll’s House and The Poetry of Christina Rossetti

Component 2: Nineteen Eighty-Four and The Handmaid’s Tale 

Component 3: Nemesis, Fences, A View From the Bridge and The Poetry of Langston Hughes


Wider Reading: 



Reading Lists

Key Stage 3 Reading List

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

As well as being humorous, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden is also heart-warming and touching. Nobody knows hardship like Nombeko who was born in a shack in Soweto, before being trapped at the hands of a fraudulent engineer for over a decade for the unforgivable crime of being hit by his car. At one point in the book Nombeko meets Celestine, a young anarchist who’s angry at the capitalists, the Communists, people who eat meat and people who don’t. To this Nombeko thinks that, “the angry young woman ought to take a job as a black person in Africa for a few weeks … in order to get some perspective on her life.”

The story whisks you away along its dramatic twists and turns. One minute you’re with three Chinese girls with a talent for faking antique gooses, the next you’re watching a crazed man get attacked by a Swedish King. Therefore, if you’re looking for something with a bit of everything, Jonas Jonasson is your man and The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden is definitely your book

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

The inspiring story of Malala Yousafzai, the girl who stood up for education and changed the world. This is a story of love, loss and tremendous courage, showing how a single voice can change the world. She is not ‘Malala – the girl shot by the Taliban’: she is ‘Malala – campaigner and activist for education, equality and peace’. Her story demands to be heard.

Wonder by R.J Palacio

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, is the moving and uplifting tale of August Pullman, a boy born with a facial deformity. It won’t do to give away too much of the plot but Wonder builds to a sweeping, uplifting finale. The book undoubtedly, and skilfully, manipulates the emotions of readers (watch out dog-lovers in particular) but it will delight children and adults because it’s a terrific story and Palacio is exploring some fundamental truths about how humans behave. And how they should behave.

Then by Morris Gleitzman

In the early 1940s, in Poland, an orphan girl and her Jewish friend escape from a cattle car heading to the Nazi death camps. Dazed with hunger and exhaustion, they seek shelter in the woods, stumble upon a pit filled with machine-gunned children, evade a local man collecting Jews for bounty, and are captured by a farmer who locks them in a barn with her pig. Fortunately, the farmer despises German soldiers somewhat more than she hates Jews, and offers the children refuge, along with a slim chance of survival.

The department is dedicated to supporting all its students offering a range of after school classes, as well as theatre trips, visits from authors, Saturday school and a reading club.

Key Stage 4 Reading List

The Man Who Smiled by Henning Mankell

After killing a man in the line of duty (in The White Lioness), Inspector Kurt Wallander finds himself spiralling into an alcohol-fuelled depression. He has just decided to leave the police when an old friend, Sten Torstensson, approaches him to secretly investigate the recent death of his father in a car accident. At first Kurt dismisses his friend’s suspicions as unlikely, when Sten is found dead, murdered with no doubt, in exactly the same manner as a Norwegian businessman shortly before. Against his previous judgement, Kurt returns to work to investigate what he is convinced is a case of double murder.

Happy as Larry by Scot Gardner

When a search for the happiest person on earth thrusts Larry into the spotlight, he becomes the planet’s newest superstar. His face is splashed across newspapers, magazines and cheesy merchandise, and soon millions of fans are following his life on TV, online, on demand. But fame brings new temptations, and soon Larry finds his relationship with his girlfriend falling apart. As the media reports every move and mistake he makes, he struggles to stop things spiralling out of control. There may be no happy ending for the worlds’ happiest man.

Other recommended books are:

Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres Wildthorn

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The Time Machine by HG Wells

Specifications Used In English

For KS5:

OCR Specification for A Level: Dystopian Literature

A Level Specification

For KS4:

AQA GCSE Specifications:

GCSE English Literature Specification At A Glance

GCSE English Language Specification At A Glance