Autumn 1 and 2: Narratives of Power and Conflict: The Modern Novel

Key Question: How do writers communicate their social and political agendas through texts?

Students will study either Animal Farm or Lord of the Flies

Animal Farm
Using Orwell’s allegory and the social/political agenda of the text, students will discuss the ‘big ideas’ of how societies and human work. Discussing ideas such as sarcasm, cynicism, idealism, political manipulation etc. will allow students to explore how tone is utilized by writers. Students will gain familiarity with how different ideologies have shaped the world they live in and the texts they read. Political ideas like nationalism, socialism, capitalism will allow students to see modern texts within the context of the competing ideologies of the twentieth century (link to An Inspector Calls). Ideas of power, powerlessness, exploitation, manipulation and the role of the media in modern society will equip them to become discriminating and self-aware readers, and to think about the debates set up in other texts they will encounter.

Lord of the Flies
The writer’s agendas will be evaluated, including exploring the significance of allegorical readings of the text. Ideas about the big issues in society – social class, power/powerlessness/the use of power, methods of government and ‘group mentality’ will allow students to deepen their understanding of how writers use texts to open up debate about the problems in society. Students will be well prepared for their study of other twentieth century texts by examining how the socio-political context of the dramatic WW2/Cold War era shaped popular thinking and identity. Ideas about the basic inequalities of power in society will empower them to ‘read deeper’ into a range of texts, including allegorical readings, and to also shape their own ideas about society, identity and power.
Assessment will involve students writing an essay style response to a character and/or theme based question.

Spring 1 - Descriptive Writing

This unit explores different examples of descriptive writing from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Students will read and study these extracts to help them identify and apply descriptive writing conventions to their own creative writing. They will be taught how to write imaginatively with pertinently detailed descriptions demonstrating a high degree of technical accuracy. They will focus on adapting sentence structures and vocabulary for effect and learn specific skills helping them to describe both location and character. They will study specific skills helping them to describe location and character effectively.
Assessment will involve students producing their own piece of descriptive writing.

Spring 2 – Shakespeare’s Problem Play: The Merchant of Venice

Key Question: What impact does injustice and discrimination have on society?
By studying the play, the students will be able to engage with some of the big issues in society such as racism, religious prejudice, sexism, attitudes to homosexuality, wealth and relationships. The aim is to grapple with how problematic the play is and how different audiences are likely to receive it as a result of changing attitudes and social norms. Since the play does not have a clear ‘good’ and ‘bad’ (at least to a modern audience) students should be able to evaluate degrees of sympathy and antipathy which certain parts of the play will provoke. This unit will develop student vocabulary and the ability to deal with unfamiliar vocabulary/vocabulary used in unfamiliar contexts (i.e. caskets, lottery), helps students use texts to explore ideas about society which will be used in later learning, allows students to engage with the context of Shakespeare’s England, develops understanding of genre in Shakespeare’s play (comedy, tragedy, problem play) and how character and setting has been chosen strategically in order to discuss the problems within society.
Assessment will involve students writing an essay style response focusing on how Shakespeare presents a character and/or theme in an extract and the play as a whole.

Summer 1 - Non-fiction writing

This unit explores the difference between fiction and non-fiction writing. Students will closely analyse a range of texts such as articles, speeches, letters and leaflets. They will be able to identify the differences between these different forms of texts, stating what conventions and stylistic features are used and to what effect. They will study a range of texts from modern times back to the 19th century, including texts such as Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield and other extracts relating to the theme of education. Building on the skills they have developed in the earlier unit on descriptive writing, students will learn how to embed subordinate clauses effectively, use and adapt language so that it is suitable for form, audience and purpose (e.g. the use and experimentation of persuasive language).
Assessment: The unit culminates in students creating a non-fiction text based on an extract from a piece of fiction.

Summer 2 – Poems from Different Cultures

Key Question: What does culture mean?
The purpose of the unit is to introduce, recap and extend pupils' knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of poetry. The poems have been selected from a variety of poets from different cultures with the unit based around the themes of culture, identity and how these change and adapt through migration (‘Island Man’, ‘Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan’ and ‘Hurricane Hits England’) Students will gain additional knowledge on how to write analytically about poems as well as techniques to successfully compare poems. Students will explore how poetry can be used as a form of social and political protest; they will examine cultures in chaos or crisis, studying contexts such as Abacha’s regime in Nigeria through the 1990s (‘Not My Business’), racism and segregation in America in the 1930s (‘Strange Fruit’) and poverty across the world (‘Blessing’ and ‘Two Scavengers in a Truck’. Many issues explored in this collection of poetry pave the way for a deep understanding of power and powerlessness in society (‘Half Caste’).
Assessment: Students will write a comparison of two poems from the selection of poems studied.