Autumn 1 and 2 - American Classics

Key Question: What does equality mean?

Students will study either To Kill a Mockingbird or Of Mice and Men

To Kill a Mockingbird
Using Lee’s text, students will explore the context of America from the civil war through to the 1960s, looking closely at race relations in the American South in the first half of the 20th century. Students will also examine the ways in which Lee tackles problems with public education, class hierarchies and gender roles. As well as exploring race and racism, they will explore the concept of social inequality in general. Through analysis of characterisation, students will focus on the ways in which Scout, Jem and Dill emerge from their childhood world are introduced to the inequality of the adult world, culminating in a destruction of innocence.

Of Mice and Men
Using Steinbeck’s text, students will explore the context of modern America, looking closely at the impact of the Jim Crow Laws, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the drought that plunged many areas of the southern states into poverty. Students will explore how Steinbeck uses symbolism to present the universal themes of friendship in a lonely world, prejudice and discrimination. Students will tackle the idea of kindness and mercy in an unforgiving world.


Autumn 2 and Spring 1 - Narrative Writing: Short Stories

This unit teaches students how to craft a convincing narrative. They will learn how to control their punctuation, demonstrating a consistently high level of accuracy and an ambitious range of vocabulary. They will explore ways of crafting writing so that they are engaging and descriptive. They will use paragraphs to help shape the reader’s experience of the story. The unit will focus on specific details of narrative writing such as use of narrative perspective (exploring the impact of 1st person narrative compared to 3rd person). They will look specifically at ways of crafting high-impact narrative openings, creating convincing characters and establishing mood and atmosphere. Whilst there will be a review of technical accuracy, particular emphasis will be placed on the use (and over-use!) of dialogue and punctuating speech within narratives.

A significant proportion of time will be spent equipping students with the skills and knowledge needed to plan effectively. They will be taught a range of different planning strategies.


Spring 2 – People on the Edge (Poetry)

Key Question: How do poets present loss of power?
Students will build on their study of poetry from year 7. This unit introduces them to a wide range of poetic forms: the sonnet (Petrarchan and Shakespearean), the ballad, the elegy and epitaph. They will explore the ways poets present the human struggle of unrequited love, anger, despair, and threat or danger. Whilst considering the ways poets reveal gender inequality throughout the 18th and 19th centuries up to modern day, and the depictions of madness, they will address key ideas about control, power and the abuse of power. They will examine the ways poets challenge or conform to poetic conventions or values at the time. Students will be able to compare a selection of poems under a specific theme, preparing them for their study of ‘Power and Conflict’ poems in Key Stage 4. Poems to be studied include ‘The Laboratory’, ‘Hitcher’, extract from ‘Out of the Blue’, ‘Salome’, ‘The Farmer’s Bride’, ‘Havisham’.
Assessment: Students will write a comparison of selection of poems studied.


Summer 1 – Exploring the Extreme: Non-Fiction texts

Key Question: What makes nature so powerful
Students will study a range of texts detailing the expeditions and adventures of a number of famous explorers, explorations and disasters. From Captain Cook’s discoveries to Ben Fogle’s Arctic Expedition, students will study the ways in which writers use language and structure to demonstrate nature’s overwhelming power. This appreciation of nature’s awe-inspiring force will allow students to develop a better connection with the study of ‘Storm on the Island’, ‘The Prelude’ and ‘Exposure’ (poems from the Power and Conflict anthology) in Key Stage 4.

Students will compare writer’s attitudes to nature and events taking place in the outdoors/ natural world. They will learn how to identify key differences and similarities in the methods writers use in 19th, 20th and 21st century non-fiction texts.


Summer 2 – Descriptive Writing

This unit builds on the Year 8 Descriptive Writing unit and teaches students a range of strategies to explore unusual (or seemingly ordinary!) places. They will learn how to experiment with vocabulary, technique and structure to write convincing descriptions of places such as doctor’s waiting rooms or bus journeys. They will examine ways in which other writers select finer details within a scene or specific context to ‘zoom-in’ on, recreating this in their own original writing piece. They will learn how to transform every day settings or situations into entertaining descriptions that engage their reader.

Assessment: Students will write their own piece of descriptive writing.