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Northampton School for Boys

Northampton School for Boys


English Language and English Literature

Team Leader – Mrs Claire Morrell

Key Stage 3

In Years 7 and 8 all students follow a scheme of work designed in six topics - one for each term – each of which develop skills in writing, reading and speaking and listening. These introduce the reading and writing skills required at GCSE which are taught through topics such as autobiographies, creative writing, poetry, Shakespeare and modern novels. Assessed pieces provide specific check points for progress; an end of year examination also offers an annual summative level of achievement. We encourage all students to read extensively to develop skills so they can summarise, analyse, compare and contrast, cite evidence and respond to concepts and ideas. We actively promote independent reading and expect students to carry a reading book with them every day. Technical skills such as spelling and punctuation are also focused on during one lesson a week.

Year 7

Term 1 Autobiography and biography
Term 2 Class reader #1
Term 3 “Escape from Kraznir!” – genre writing
Term 4 Poetry (nature or The First World War)
Term 5 Victorian literature (currently: Sherlock Holmes “The Adventure of the Dancing Men”)
Term 6 Class reader #2

Year 8

Term 1 William Shakespeare
Term 2 Non fiction texts – reading focus
Term 3 Charles Dickens: “A Christmas Carol”
Term 4 Non-fiction texts – writing focus
Term 5 Exam skills (including analysis, planning, timing and extending responses)
Term 6 Class reader

Year 9, 10 & 11

GCSE English Literature and English Language

Examining Body: AQA (website:

Students begin their two GCSE courses in Year 9. Both courses, English Language and English Literature, are assessed externally through two separate examinations; an overall grade of grade 0-9 will be awarded for each course. In addition to these examinations, there is also a Spoken Language Endorsement attached to the English Language qualification, for which successful students will be awarded a pass, merit or distinction.

Over the course of Key Stage 4, we expect all boys will read independently beyond the classroom. Because the English Language exam papers demand that students read unseen extracts of some considerable length (600-700 words), we promote reading skills as vital to success. Your son’s teacher will be able to provide a recommended reading list which will include the specific literature texts for his class. Four texts are studied for the Literature course, including a Shakespeare play; anthology of poetry; a Victorian novel,  and a modern novel/play. Students also learn how to respond and compare to unseen poetry. Non-fiction reading is tested on the English Language paper 2.

Full details of the specification and units of content for English Language can be found on the AQA website here:

Full details of the specification and units of content for English Literature can be found on the AQA website here:

Students will start Year 9 by developing key reading skills for the English Language Paper 1 examination. These skills are further developed in terms 3 and 4 where we prepare students by teaching them how to respond to exam style questions in response to unseen extracts from literary texts. As preparation for question 5 of the paper, we will also cover how to write to describe and narrate. Spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG) account for 20% of the overall mark for English Language and, as such, are important strands which run throughout the year to secure understanding and use of Standard English.

In terms 2, 5 and 6, students will prepare for different aspects of the English Literature examinations. They will study two important set texts for English Literature Paper 1: a play by William Shakespeare and a 19thcentury novel.  In this first year, we focus on characters, plot, setting and themes as well as exploring the contexts which surround the texts. Students will end the year by studying the ‘Conflict and Power’ cluster of the AQA Poetry Anthology in preparation for English Literature Paper 2.

In Year 10, after returning to the poetry studied at the end of Year 9, we turn our focus to unseen poetry and the modern novel which are both examined in English Literature Paper 2. Through these texts, we aim to develop increasingly sophisticated analytical skills and a more subtle understanding of the importance of context.

Alongside this, we prepare students for English Language Paper 2 which focuses on reading non-fiction and literary non-fiction texts, and on writing to present a viewpoint. Students must be able to respond to texts written before 1900. SPaG remains an integral part of our teaching, and we expect boys to develop significant levels of understanding and high levels of accuracy in their own writing.

At the end of the year, students will prepare for the Spoken Language Endorsement, which requires them to give a presentation on a topic of their choosing.

In Year 11, we have a policy of “nothing new”. This is the year where we hone skills, deepen understanding and develop the analytical and evaluative skills which students will need to achieve their full potential. Boys will have continuous opportunities to practise exam skills under timed conditions in this year so that they are fully prepared and confident in their ability to approach all four examination papers.

Year 12 & 13

English Language and English Literature are offered at A level. We follow the AQA Language and AQA(A) Literature syllabuses. Both Language and Literature are assessed by 20% Non-Examined Assessment (coursework) and 80% final exam at the end of Year 13. Students are encouraged to work independently and in study groups, managing their time and work load effectively whilst pursuing their passion for English. We do not offer AS qualifications in either subject.

English Language

Students study a range of topics, building on their analysis skills from GCSE. In Year 12, we study Paper 1: ‘Language, the Individual and Society’. Topics include language levels, textual variations and representations and child language development. Students acquire advanced terminology, read a range of critics and are assessed in a number of ways including essay writing, data analysis, investigative writing and their own original writing.

In Year 13, we study Paper 2: “Language Diversity and Change”. Topics include geographical and social variations as well as the development of the English Language. Students also submit their Non Exam Assessment during Year 13. This is an independent research based linguistic investigation.

Full details of the specification and units of content can be found on the AQA website here:

English Literature

Students study a range of challenging texts from a variety of genres, covering modern and canonical works. In Year 12 we study Paper 2; “Literature and Modern Society” which covers a core text element (currently Owen Sheers’ “Skirrid Hill”), preparation for unseen prose analysis and comparison of studied prose and drama texts (currently Kathryn Stockett’s “The Help” and Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a hot tin roof”). Students develop skills of comparison across texts and working with different, more challenging genres. They are assessed through essay writing, responses to unseen texts and seminar-style presentations and discussions.

In Year 13, we study Paper 1: “Love Through the Ages”, which covers a core Shakespeare text (currently “Othello”), comparison of two previously unseen prose passages, as well as the comparison of an exam board anthology of pre-1900 poetry with a modern prose novel (currently “The Great Gatsby”). Students also submit their Non Exam Assessment during Year 13. This is an essay comparing two texts. The selection of texts and wording of a suitable question will be supported by their class teacher and agreed by the exam board.

Full details of the specification and units of content can be found on the AQA website here:

Please contact the school if you would like to find out more about the curriculum.

English Team

Mrs H. Topping-Shaw (Senior Leadership Team)
Mrs C. Morrell (Curriculum Team Leader)
Miss C. Raine (Learning Leader, KS3 English)
Ms A. Jesson (Learning Leader, KS5 English)
Mrs A. Browning
Mrs E. De Vito
Mrs S. Morrison
Mr R. Rodger
Miss A. Scott

Mrs E. Spencer

Miss A. Rose
Northampton School for Boys, Billing Road, Northampton, NN1 5RT
01604 230240