• Principles and Purpose of the English Curriculum

    Principles and Purpose of the English Curriculum

    The purpose of the English curriculum is to equip students with the skills and knowledge to become confident thinkers, speakers, and writers. We want to ensure that students are prepared for each stage of their academic journey and the world beyond the classroom. Through the study of a range of texts written by diverse voices, students are encouraged to discuss, debate, and explore universal ideas.

    The following principles have informed the planning of the United Learning curriculum across all subjects:

    • Entitlement: All pupils have the right to learn what is in the United Learning curriculum, and schools have a duty to ensure that all pupils are taught the whole of it.
    • Coherence: Taking the National Curriculum as its starting point, our curriculum is carefully sequenced so that powerful knowledge builds term by term and year by year. We make meaningful connections within subjects and between subjects.
    • Mastery: We ensure that foundational knowledge, skills, and concepts are secure before moving on. Pupils visit prior learning and apply their understanding in new contexts.
    • Adaptability: The core content – the 'what' – of the curriculum is stable, but schools will bring it to life in their local context, and teachers will adapt lessons – the 'how' – to meet the needs of their own classes.
    • Representation: All pupils see themselves in our curriculum, and our curriculum takes all pupils beyond their immediate experience.
    • Education with character: Our curriculum - which includes the taught subject timetable as well as spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development, our co-curricular provision, and the ethos and ‘hidden curriculum’ of the school – is intended to spark curiosity and to nourish both the head and the heart.



    Here we explore these principles in the context of the English curriculum:

    • Entitlement: All will study a wide range of high-quality texts and writing forms.
    • Coherence: The curriculum is carefully sequenced according to themes, ideas, and concepts whilst introducing a variety of literary genres and forms, including different writing forms.
    • Mastery: We want our students to be able to link new knowledge to previously taught content and understand the different ways they connect.
    • Adaptability: Each lesson addresses a key question, leaving room for teachers to adapt lessons without losing sight of the core purpose.
    • Representation: All will encounter texts which offer both a mirror and a window to the rich and multi- layered experiences of the world we live in.
    • Education with character: Through the curriculum, students are given many opportunities to share, reflect and learn about each other’s experiences whilst recognising our common shared experiences.
  • ‘Why This, Why Now?’

    ‘Why This, Why Now?’

    In our planning, we have asked ourselves 'why this, why now?’. Here we provide some examples of the curriculum choices we have made, and why the units have been placed in the order we have chosen:

    • The curriculum has been carefully sequenced to introduce students to a variety of literary genres and forms, including different writing forms. Each year has a key theme: Conflict in Year 7; Social Justice in Year 8; Relationships and Identity in Year 9.
    • In each year, we include a non-fiction unit that enables students to explore the issues around each theme before they explore these issues in the studied texts. In addition, the ideas, and themes, and/or the way they are explored become increasingly challenging. For example, in Year 7 students explore issues relating to gender and the patriarchy in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. These ideas are subsequently

    developed through the Social Justice theme in Year 8 in texts such as Dracula (19th Century idea of the ‘NewWoman’) and Pygmalion (representations of women and class). This provides students with the appropriatevocabulary and understanding of the key ideas, enabling them to approach more challenging issuesencountered in Year 9. For example, the subjugation and oppression of marginalised groups in texts such asThe Crucible andSherlock Holmes,wherestudentsstudy thetheoryof ‘The Other’.

    • Each unit details the skills and key knowledge, for example, conventions, vocabulary, and terminology which students should know and be able to apply. Students will be given multiple opportunities to re-visit the skills and key knowledge within the year and across Key Stage 3. For example, in the first unit of Year 7, Treasure Island, students will be introduced to the impact of a writer's use of characterisation, setting, and symbolism. Students return to this in subsequent Year 7 units (The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, The Girl of Ink and Stars). These key methods are then revisited in Year 8 (Dracula, Dystopian Short Stories, Pygmalion) and Year 9 (The Crucible, Sherlock Holmes).
    • Each Shakespeare text represents a different genre (comedy, history, tragedy). The tragedy genre is placed at the end of Year 9 to support the teaching of a tragedy at GCSE and builds on aspects of the tragedy in The Crucible.
    • The Crucible appears at the start of Year 9 as they build on the exploration of issues regarding race, gender, and class in the second half of Year 8 (Dystopian Short Stories, Social Justice Anthology (Non-fiction), Social Justice Anthology (Poetry), Pygmalion). Pupils need to have covered these units in Year 8 to approach The Crucible maturely and appropriately.
    • Pygmalion appears at the end of Year 8 so that the Social Justice units can support their understanding of issues of class and gender. The units in Year 8 also build on ideas around gender which are introduced in the Year 7 A Midsummer Night’s Dream unit. The portrayal of women in The Crucible and Pygmalion is balanced with The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (Year 7), the themed Poetry and Non-fiction units, and the Sherlock Holmes unit.
    • Part of the reasoning behind the choice of the selected Victorian texts was that the language/references have become part of our vocabulary and shared knowledge. Each Victorian text also explores a different genre.
  • Teaching the English Curriculum

    Teaching the English Curriculum

    Every unit has a Topic Guide that supports the teaching of key vocabulary and terminology. In every unit, key vocabulary and terminology are displayed, defined, and continually revisited. Students are routinely tested on new vocabulary and terminology in ‘Do Now’ and end-of-lesson reviews. Students are required to apply new vocabulary and terminology in extended written tasks which are supported by high-quality models.

    Extended tasks demonstrate whether students are accurately embedding the key knowledge into developed responses. The sequence of the curriculum provides opportunities for students to develop and deepen their understanding of key ideas, forms, and conventions. For example, students study the form and conventions of a tragedy in two texts (The Crucible and King Lear).


The school is part of United Learning. United Learning comprises: UCST (Registered in England No: 2780748. Charity No. 1016538) and ULT (Registered in England No. 4439859. An Exempt Charity). Companies limited by guarantee. VAT number 834 8515 12.
Registered address: United Learning, Worldwide House, Thorpe Wood, Peterborough, PE3 6SB. Tel: 01832 864 444

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