English KS3-5

All students study English and English Literature at both Key Stages.

Throughout Key Stage three, students study a wide variety of literature genres from contemporary works to Literary Heritage texts. We aim to foster writing skills by developing student’s understanding of the language features of all genres and giving them opportunities to practice writing for different texts and audiences.

At Key Stage Four, students are given wider reading lists and are expected to read a minimum of three books, some classic and some modern as well as a wide variety of poetry. We also encourage students to develop public speaking skills both in lessons and through externally run workshops and competitions.


Key Stage 3 (Years 7, 8 & 9)

Students are taught in sets according to their ability and achievement in English.

Every year, all groups study at least one prose text, drama text and poetry collection. They study modern texts and some pre 1914 texts; in particular, Shakespeare. Students also study various forms of non-fiction.

Students complete English examinations twice a year and are assessed on both their knowledge of the texts they have studied and the reading and writing skills they have developed. For example, Year Nine pupils are examined on Romeo and Juliet, Romantic Poetry and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Throughout Key Stage 3 students are given opportunities to improve their skills in writing descriptive, informative, explanatory, discursive, persuasive, instructive texts in preparation for GCSE.


Key Stage 4 (Years 10 & 11)

Students in Key Stage 4 are taught in sets according to their ability and achievement in English. Those students who need the most support in English are taught in the smallest classes.

We follow the AQA GCSE syllabus which, from September 2015, no longer includes tiers meaning all students complete the same examination regardless of their ability. The new specification for English Language means that the entire GCSE is assessed at the end of Year 11 through two separate English Language Exams. The first of these focusses on the students understanding of non-fiction texts and the second on extracts from fiction. Both exams also include a writing section and marks are awarded for the accuracy of written work.

All students are entered for English Literature as well as English Language. Depending on the set a student is in they will study a variety of fiction texts such as Frankenstein, a collection of Romantic Poetry and at least one complete Shakespeare play. Again, English Literature is assessed through two separate examinations at the end of Year 11.


Key Stage 5 (Years 12 & 13)


AQA English Literature A.
We run the linear course at Sacred Heart so students will sit their A-Level examinations at the end of Year 13.

This course takes a historicist approach to the study of English Literature and works on the belief that no text exists in isolation but is the product of the time in which it was produced.  

Students are encouraged to explore the relationships that exist between texts and the contexts within which they are written, received and understood. Study involves investigating different texts, making connections, drawing out patterns of similarity and difference using a variety of reading strategies and perspectives, encouraging students to debate and challenge the interpretations of other readers as they develop their own informed personal responses.

The course invites a variety of written response types and all encourage critical debate. In each task, students will be required to argue and to show personal responses and critical preferences, supported by the terminology relevant to the topics and contexts with which they are engaging. In doing so, they will be able to show 'creativity'. English Literature not only equips students with the knowledge and skills needed for exams, but also opens up a rich, challenging and coherent approach to English Literature that provides an excellent basis for further study in the subject.

Study of English at A Level will help develop skills including: independent thinking, planning and research, negotiation and teamwork, constructing and developing arguments and lines of enquiry, as well as critical and analytical thinking.


A minimum of two grade 6s in GCSE English Literature and GCSE English Language; a grade 7 or above is desirable.


Paper 1 Love through the Ages:
Students explore aspects of the theme of love through the ages, using unseen material and set texts. Students will read widely in the topic area, reading texts from a range of authors and times. This unit involves study of three texts: one poetry and one prose text, of which one must be written pre-1900, and one Shakespeare play.  Students will also respond to two unseen poems in the exam.


Paper 2B Texts in Shared Contexts:
Exploring aspects of literature connected through a period of time is the focus in this unit. Students will explore modern literature (1945 – present day) considering themes such as: wars and the legacy of wars; personal and social identity; changing morality and social structures; gender, class, race and ethnicity; political upheaval and change; resistance and rebellion; imperialism, post-imperialism and nationalism; engagement with the social, political, personal and literary issues which have helped to shape the latter half of the 20th century and the early decades of the 21st century.


Independent Critical Study: Texts across Time
Texts across Time provides a challenging and wide-ranging opportunity for independent study.
Texts chosen for study will maximise opportunities for writing about comparative similarity and difference and allow access to a range of critical views and interpretations.




Paper One: Love through the Ages

Written exam: 3hrs (open book in section C only)
Section A: Shakespeare: One passage-based question with linked essay (25 marks)
Section B: Unseen Poetry: Compulsory essay question on two unseen poems (25 marks)
Section C: Comparing Texts: One essay question linking two texts (25 marks)
40% of A-level


Paper Two: Modern times: literature from 1945 to the present day

Written exam: 2hrs 30mins (open book)
Section A: Set Texts. One essay question on set text
25 marks)
Section B: Contextual Linking
One compulsory question on an unseen extract
(25 marks)
One essay question linking two texts (25 marks)
40% of A-level

Independent Critical Study: Texts across Time

Comparative critical study of two texts, at least one of which must have been written pre-1900
One extended essay (2500 words) and a bibliography
(50 marks)
20% of A-level
Assessed by teachers and moderated by AQA



Oxford University, Cambridge University and other Russell Group universities list A Level English Literature as a preferred option for all humanities courses and is excellent preparation of a wide variety of careers including Law, Journalism, Teaching, Publishing and Media.