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Curriculum Intent

With the English department, we aim to create confident communicators, reflective and critical readers, and thoughtful, articulate writers.

Curriculum Overview

The English curriculum at Spalding Grammar School is designed to produce students who are confident communicators, reflective and critical readers and thoughtful, articulate writers. We aim to equip our students with the skills they need to join in an ongoing conversation about the world they live in, informed by carefully-selected texts from a wide range of genres and periods. 

Staff have worked together to develop a curriculum that is tailored to the needs and interests of boys in Years 7-11, making careful choices of set texts and activities to spark enthusiasm and ensure challenge. Resources are produced in-house and can be adapted to meet the needs of different groups, depending on whether students need support to embed specific skills or tasks that offer greater depth and challenge.  

The curriculum is divided into five units per year.  

Key Stage 3

The same text types are covered by all three-year groups in each unit (Unit 1 – novel, Unit 2 – poetry, Unit 3 – Shakespeare, Unit 4 – non-fiction, Unit 5 – original writing). This allows us to revisit specific skills and text types: the curriculum is a ‘spiral’ in which successive units introduce more challenging texts and concepts and build on and extend the disciplinary knowledge, skills and understanding gained in previous years. Students in Year 7 are taught by two English teachers and study two units simultaneously; students in Years 8 and 9 have one teacher for the majority of their English lessons and another member of the department for their fortnightly 250-Word Challenge lesson, which focusses on developing skills in extended writing. 

In KS3, students develop the skills of exploring themes, ideas and characters in a range of texts. They examine the ways in which texts from all four genres can be used to tell stories, convey thought and represent the world. They learn how to describe and analyse the methods writers use to create particular effects, and begin to consider the ways in which writers are influenced by the contexts in which they live. They also learn to evaluate the effectiveness of particular texts and are encouraged to develop their own opinions and interpretations.  

The texts chosen for study present increasing levels of challenge and are drawn from a range of periods and genres. We are working hard to diversify the curriculum by introducing a wider range of texts written by women and by writers of colour, whether as part of the key units or within students’ wider reading. To this end, we have introduced Zana Fraillon’s The Bone Sparrow in Year 7 and novels such as The Other Side of Hope (Beverley Naidoo), Coram Boy (Jamila Gavin), Between Shades of Gray (Ruta Sepetys) and Hell and High Water (Tanya Landman), together with the English and Media Centre’s multicultural short story collection Iridescent Adolescent, in wider reading lessons. Our Year 8 unit on The Tempest explores issues of colonialism and representation through a close study of the character of Caliban, and students in Year 9 explore the representation of marginalised groups further in their unit on nineteenth-century non-fiction. 

Students are introduced to the literary canon from the beginning of Year 7, in their unit on poetry, which includes poems by Tennyson and de la Mare alongside the work of more contemporary writers whose work reflects the diversity of our heritage. Students study Once in Year 8 to build on their understanding of how fiction can be used to explore different experiences and illuminate particular historical events, and examine the Gothic genre in their Year 9 unit on The Woman in Black. Work on Shakespeare, which begins in Year 7, aims to give students a grounding in Shakespeare’s life, times and stagecraft and to build their confidence in handling Shakespeare’s language, beginning with guided work on short extracts and building towards the development of a sustained exploration of whole plays. Our unit on Romeo and Juliet in Year 9 introduces the concept of tragedy, and also includes work on the sonnet, preparing students for the work they will do in GCSE English Literature. 

In writing, students learn to write for a range of audiences and purposes, and are taught the skills of planning, drafting and revising their work through activities that include modelling and shared writing and the use of WAGOLLs and peer assessment. From September 2023, we are also introducing an explicit focus on writing through a fortnightly 250-Word Challenge lesson. Emphasis is placed on accuracy of spelling, punctuation and grammar and students are encouraged to develop a rich vocabulary and to craft their work using a range of stylistic and structural methods. All original writing tasks, from Year 7 upwards, include time for planning, drafting, self-assessment and review. RAFT tasks – again from Year 7 upwards – require students to focus on redrafting specific parts of their work and adding comments to reflect on what they have changed and why. We give frequent opportunities for students to recall key aspects of knowledge and embed them within carefully-crafted sentences, in order to build their fluency in academic writing. Subject-specific vocabulary is taught and tested explicitly in a number of units, and activities in all units require students to reflect on the words that would be most appropriate to describe particular characters or convey particular atmospheres. Discourse markers and the planning of discursive essays receive a particular focus in relevant units. 

Key Stage 4

In KS4, English Language and English Literature are taught alongside each other, so students will tackle part of the English Language course alongside one of the English Literature set texts in each phase. Students have all of their lessons with the same English teacher, and keep the same teacher for the two years of the GCSE course. Skills and knowledge are mapped out across all five years in order to ensure coverage of all elements of the two GCSE courses.

At GCSE, we follow the AQA specifications in English Language and English Literature. We begin with an Original Writing unit that draws on the creative writing skills that students will have developed during KS3. We then embark on our study of the GCSE Poetry Anthology (Power and Conflict). Work on the Anthology is spaced throughout the two years of the course, encouraging students to make connections between poems and build on prior knowledge. We study A Christmas Carol early in Year 10 because of its accessibility and start Macbeth at the end of Year 10 when students are more able to cope with the challenge that it poses. Our work on An Inspector Calls, which demands a level of maturity and an understanding of issues such as inequality, exploitation and toxic masculinity, takes place in the spring of Year 11. Work on English Language is threaded through the course, with students being introduced to Paper 1 in Phase 1 of Year 10 and Paper 2 in Phase 4, and then revisiting each of these papers in Year 11. 

Students in Years 7-11 benefit from a departmental subscription to 'Educake', which enables staff to set targeted, low-stakes activities and encourages self-testing and the development of mastery.  

Within the classroom, enrichment is offered through activities that encourage students to make connections between their work in English and the wider world (such as the Year 7 non-fiction unit on persuasive writing and speaking and the Year 9 ‘Back to the Future’ unit on C19th science writing), to empathise and question, and to discuss increasingly complex themes such as social justice and personal morality. Film adaptations are used to supplement the study of many texts, and aural and visual stimuli – including film and theatrical stills – help to spark students’ imaginations. We organise visits from theatre companies to enrich students’ work on The Tempest and Macbeth, and arrange theatre trips when possible. Opportunities for enrichment include wider reading and the Creative Writing Club.  

Key Stage 5

The English curriculum at Spalding Grammar School is designed to produce students who are confident communicators, reflective and critical readers and thoughtful, articulate writers. We aim to equip our students with the skills they need to join in an ongoing conversation about the world they live in, informed by carefully-selected texts from a wide range of genres and periods. 

At A level, we offer both English Literature (AQA Specification B) and English Language (AQA) as separate subjects. English Literature is taught collaboratively with Spalding High School. At Spalding Grammar we are primarily responsible for Unit 1, in which students focus on the key literary genre of tragedy, building on their study of Macbeth at GCSE and exploring how this genre has evolved over time. In Unit 2, taught at Spalding High, students examine the genre of crime writing. Students are also introduced to different critical and philosophical approaches, such as Marxist, feminist and post-colonialist readings, and are encouraged to see meaning as dynamic rather than static, produced by the interaction of texts, readers and contexts. The NEA enables students to pursue their own interests, allowing them to make independent choices of both texts and tasks. 

In English Language, teaching is split between two members of staff. We see language as vibrant, dynamic and profoundly political, and examine the ways in which it can be used to build relationships and represent the world. Accordingly, we encourage students to make frequent connections between the work they do in class and their own experiences as users of language in the wider world, reflecting on their own personal language histories and on how identity is encoded and enacted through language. Students have the chance to develop their own interests through the Language Investigation element of the NEA, which has seen them exploring topics as diverse as the development of children’s writing, the speech patterns of people who speak English as a second language, and the representation of the England football team in the media. 

A level students in both subjects are able to access the department’s subscription to e-magazine, produced quarterly by the English and Media Centre, which contains short, accessible articles aimed specifically at post-16 students. English Literature students also have access to Massolit via Spalding High School. Wider reading is signposted frequently, often through links on Teams, and we also provide students with links to relevant television and radio programmes and podcasts.  

We endeavour to make students aware of the importance of both English Language and English Literature to the world of work, and provide opportunities for them to speak to professionals in fields such as publishing, journalism and speech and language therapy. 


  • Dr C E Atherton (Head of Department)
  • Mr R B Cave 
  • Mrs A-M Durno
  • Mrs J Chiappino
  • Miss C V Barratt
  • Mr S C Evans

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The department consists of six classrooms and a drama studio. The School Library is located in the English suite.


As a Department, we aim to produce students who are confident communicators, reflective and critical readers and thoughtful, articulate writers. We believe that English should open students’ minds to the experiences of others and encourage them to engage with the world beyond their own immediate concerns, equipping them with the skills they need to join in an ongoing conversation about the world they live in.

Key Stage 3

In Key Stage 3 students are taught to understand language through reading, writing and speaking and listening. Students will develop an appreciation and love of reading through exploring a wide range of fiction and non-fiction texts. They are taught to write accurately, fluently, effectively and at length through writing for a wide range of purposes and audiences, using a variety of styles and formats. Students also build on and consolidate their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary, and develop strategies for learning spellings. In addition, students develop their skills of speaking confidently and effectively through using Standard English in a range of informal and formal contexts, both individually and in groups.

The study of Shakespeare is introduced in Year 7 through a unit on Shakespeare’s life and times, and built on in Years 8 and 9 through work on The Tempest and Romeo and Juliet.

Students are taught in mixed-ability groups in Year 7, with support for students with who need extra help being provided by the Additional Needs team. In Years 8 and 9, students are grouped by ability to enable them to be taught at a level that is appropriate to their needs.

Key Stage 4

At Key Stage 4 students follow the AQA syllabuses for both English Language and Literature, building on and developing the key skills achieved at Key Stage 3. They study a range of fiction and non-fiction texts, including novels, short stories, poetry, drama, journalism, travel writing and biography. Students also learn how to develop and craft their own original writing. In English Literature, our set texts are Shakespeare’s gory tragedy Macbeth, Robert Louis Stevenson’s intriguing novella Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and J.B. Priestley’s play An Inspector Calls, alongside a collection of poems n the themes of conflict and power. Students will have regular opportunities to develop the skills that will be assessed in the exams taken at the end of Year 11.

Key Stage 5

At Key Stage 5, the Department offers two courses:

AQA A level English Literature involves the exploration of a wide range of texts, including drama, fiction and poetry. It focuses on the study of the genre of tragedy, including a detailed study of Shakespeare’s play King Lear, and on political and social protest writing, taking in a variety of literary works on the themes of nationalism, social class and the equality of women. Students will learn how to develop their critical responses, building reasoned arguments and exploring the contexts within which texts are written and understood.

AQA A level English Language involves just about every aspect of human communication, from body language to text messaging, from a baby’s first words to top-level business meetings. Students explore the different ways in which texts can be interpreted, how writers build relationships with their readers and how language can be used to manipulate and persuade. They also explore language variation, the ways in which the English language has changed over time, and different attitudes towards language use.

Students on both courses will be expected to work with increasing independence, to participate actively in classroom discussions and to read widely around their chosen course. They will be supported through a range of materials, including access to electronic resources and journals.

Both A level courses provide an excellent foundation for a wide range of careers, including careers in education, law, media, journalism, marketing, social work, management and the creative arts.


The Department actively encourages student participation in creative writing competitions, and a flourishing Creative Writing Club ran throughout the 2019-20 academic year. The Department has organised a number of Flexyday activities. A Year 8 Flexyday on the theme of ‘Mythical Beasts’ involved groups of students exploring monsters from myth and literature and then working together to create their own mythical beast. A Year 9 Flexyday focused on spoken word poetry, and gave students the chance to speak out about the issues that were closest to their hearts. When possible, we run theatre trips (including to the Globe Theatre in London, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon and the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester) and cinema visits, and a number of students have participated in local and regional public speaking competitions.