English Curriculum

School English Lead: Mr J O'Brien jobrien@themast.co.uk

Ready, Set, and Challenge…

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience,

but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Why do we teach English?

In English lessons at KMS, we use high-quality literature in order to develop written and verbal communication, skills and knowledge which will inspire pupils to become empathetic, tolerant and respectful.  As young people, they will be encouraged to express themselves confidently, which will enable them to respond, and adapt, to an ever-changing society.


At Kirkburton Middle School we are committed to ensuring  that every individual pupil can develop his / her ability to  use English in speaking and listening, reading and writing effectively in all situations, with an understanding and appreciation of the world, and their role in it through the study of literature.

Our aim is to promote the development of literacy, based on the pleasures and demands of reading, writing, speaking and listening.  We believe that the study of literature within cultural and historical contexts challenges pupils to articulate and defend ideas, to appreciate ideas different from their own, and to respect diversity.  Pupils are encouraged, through their own writing, to develop independent thinking skills in a variety of situations and for a variety of purposes and audiences.

Both aspects of language, the personal and the social, contribute to giving young people an understanding of and a power over their lives. Language empowers!

Thus we aim to enable every individual pupil with the skills and confidence to use and enjoy English in all its infinite variety and richness within the classroom and beyond.

We aim for our pupils to:

  • Read and appreciate works from their literary heritage  such as Shakespeare, Coleridge and Lewis Carroll
  • Learn about other cultures, faiths and traditions through the study of seminal world literature
  • Use literature as a tool to learn how to handle different situations, learn more about themselves and the world they live in
  • Explore issues pertinent to their lives and the modern world through contemporary literature
  • Have a variety of opportunities to develop their spoken language to suit a variety of contexts and audiences
  • Understand the importance of accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar
  • Write in a variety of styles such as: letters (formal and informal), narrative and descriptive, reviews, autobiographical, articles, persuasive

In Year 6 pupils receive seven literacy / English lessons, whilst in KS3 four hours per week is dedicated to English.  Both Drama and Media are incorporated into the English Scheme of Work.  All pupils are taught by English specialists in groups set by ability and supported by teachers who provide intervention at all levels when the need arises.

Homework in English is designed to extend and develop the learning in the classroom. The tasks set are suited to a range of learning styles, to ensure that all pupils are given the opportunity to capitalise on their individual skills and abilities. Examples of homework may include: extended writing activities; reading and comprehension; creating an  artistic representation of a poem

A strong reading culture exists within the school environment and all staff recognise the importance of literacy across the curriculum.

Promoting British Values

The DfE have recently reinforced the need “to create and enforce a clear and rigorous expectation on all schools to promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.”

Our curriculum contains many areas where these aspects are explored to ensure that we develop our pupils so that they become responsible young people, ready for life in modern democratic Britain.

The English curriculum allows pupils to learn about other cultures, faiths and traditions through key texts from literature that encompass many complex themes that explore the issues of personal, social and cultural identity and will allow the pupils to understand the concepts of tolerance, mutual respect, liberty and democracy.  Lessons actively explore how these themes are presented and how characters embody these values across time and context.  Poetry and stories from other cultures are also examined and these challenge pupils to place themselves and their values inside a much wider global picture.  Non-literary texts and sources such as newspapers, the internet, television, radio, recorded music and voice are all utilised for the personal and collective exploration of the notion of cultural identity and, therefore, of how we understand our place and our identity within society’s multi-faceted cultures.

SMSC in English

Spiritual development in English involves pupils acquiring insights into their own personal existence though literary appreciation and analysis.  Through empathy with characters pupils develop a growing understanding of how ideology contributes to personal identity.  Pupils will be provided with opportunities to extract meaning beyond the literal, consider alternative interpretation and hidden meanings while engaging with ideas in fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama.  Pupils are provided with opportunities to reflect on their own life and the lives of others using diaries, journals, letters, biographies and autobiographies.

Moral development in English involves pupils exploring and analysing texts which enable them to question and reason, extend their ideas and moral and emotional understanding by reflecting on the motivation and behaviour of characters.  They are given opportunities to talk for a range of purposes including exploration and hypothesis, consideration of ideas, argument, debate and persuasion.  In discussion they are encouraged to take different views into account and construct persuasive arguments.

Social development in English involves pupils reading novels and short stories that offer perspectives on society and the community and their impact on the lives of individuals. They are provided with opportunities to read texts that portray issues and events relating to contemporary life or past experience in ways that are interesting and challenging. In taking different roles in group discussions pupils are introduced to ways of negotiating consensus or agreeing to differ. Pupils are provided with opportunities to consider the coinage of new words and the origins of existing words, explore current influences on spoken and written language, examine attitudes to language use, and consider the vocabulary and grammar of Standard English and dialect variations.

Cultural development in English involves texts being selected which encourage pupils to empathise with the feelings and experiences of others in order to develop their understanding of other people’s attitudes, ideas and behaviour. Pupils develop sensitive awareness of, and the ability to respond constructively to, the backgrounds, experiences, concerns, feelings and commitments of others through poetry, imagery, drama, role play, myth and historical narrative.

Examples of Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Education in English include:

  • Pupils being given the opportunity to compare their own culture and community with that which is different
  • Pupils becoming aware of how different societies function and different social structures
  • Pupils addressing issues of discrimination (race/gender/age) within texts
  • Pupils being given the opportunity to develop empathy for characters and understand the feelings and emotions of characters in the text
  • Pupils being encouraged to make reasoned judgements on moral dilemmas that occur in texts
  • Pupils covering intangible concepts such as love, beauty and nature in poetry
  • Pupils thinking through the consequences of actions – e.g. advertising, charitable campaigns or sensationalism in the media

Reading Informing Writing

“One must be an inventor to read well. There is then creative reading as well as creative writing.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

A large emphasis is placed on delivering quality texts to pupils across a variety of different genres, time periods, and purposes. Not only is pupils’ vocabulary and expression enriched and improved through reading a variety of high-level texts, pupils’ own writing is informed by the works of others, therefore also improving the quality of their own writing and enabling them to develop their own writing style. Pupils are therefore both able to recognise and explore the different techniques writers employ for differing effects when reading as well as recreating them in their own writing by the time they have moved through middle school.

Pupils who require extra support with reading have access to intervention groups and reading mentors (trained adult volunteers and support staff) as well as using the Accelerated Reader (AR) programmme which supports and enriches their general English provision for reading.  All pupils have reading activities as part of their English lessons which the AR scheme supplements and supports.   Parents can log onto the AR site and view their child’s progress by clicking here.  Pupils’ reading levels are assessed using a computer program and they then read books at a level which helps them improve on their skills.  They complete on-line tests and if successful, over a period of time, move up to the next level.  There are rewards for pupils making particularly good progress.

Please help to support us with this scheme by ensuring that your child talks to you about their progress and reads with you, and to you, on a regular basis.

Reading for Pleasure

At key stage two, and three, we also encourage pupils to continue reading for enjoyment and sometimes share their reading with an adult at home.  At regular intervals pupils will enjoy a lesson around ‘Reading for Pleasure’.  This can take the form of small group discussions about current reading interests to make recommendations to others and may involve the shared reading of a popular children’s text. This is to remind children that reading is firstly an activity to enjoy as well as give teachers an opportunity to speak to pupils more personally about the books they are reading and their reading interests. This also encourages pupils to become increasingly independent and pursue their own interests in reading.

All pupils are enrolled into the Accelerated Reader programme which encourages them to read at the level most appropriate to their current reading competency.  There are online reading and, sometimes, vocabulary quizzes available to test each book read.  As each pupil successfully completes an Accelerated Reader quiz, points and word counts are accumulated.  These scores mark individual progress and certificates are awarded to pupils for each million words read.

  Click here to access Accelerated Reader 


Below are some links to authors’ websites who we have loved working with…




Below are links to authors whose books we love:















Writers in School 

On World Book Day 2014 we were visited by author Jill Hopkins. She worked with Year 6 pupils in the morning and then more able pupils in Years 6 and 8 throughout the day.

Donovan Christopher, a Huddersfield rapper and poet, has worked with and inspired pupils in Years 7 and 8. It was amazing to see some of the boys who are quite reticent in English to stand up and fully participate with the workshops and share his love of language.

Andy Newbould, an author and storyteller, conducted a workshop for 35 boys in Year 7, all of whom were keen to put pen to paper and be creative.

Plans are in place to repeat similar events and workshops. See announcements on the website.

Motivating Pupils and Celebrating Achievement

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”

Raymond Chandler

The English department recognise the importance of rewards as an important motivator.  Housepoints, certificates and postcards home to parents / carers are all used to celebrate success.

Each year there are a number of national poetry and story writing competitions and pupils are encouraged to enter these.

English Curriculum Overview

Lessons have been carefully crafted and planned to ensure that pupils are inspired and engaged by their learning. We use a vast array of strategies to motivate the pupils and to build a broad and exciting learning experience. Over the course of three years pupils will become journalists, detectives, advertisers, actors, poets, presenters and even X factor judges as they develop their speaking and listening skills alongside their reading and writing.

During Year 6 pupils will study:

  • Animals (introductory unit)
  • Reporting (Journalistic style, chronological and non-chronological)
  • Poetry … ( Performance and Technique )
  • Persuasive and formal letter writing
  • Narrative and descriptive writing
  • Two novels (e.g. Kensuke’s Kingdom, Why the Whales Came, Skellig, Alice in Wonderland, Holes)

 During Year 7 pupils will study:

  • Boy by Roald Dahl (Characterisation and Persuasive Writing)
  • Literary Heritage (Charles Dickens)
  • Shakespeare (Elizabethan Theatre & A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
  • Poetry (Imagery and Ballads)
  • Survival (Thematic unit – fiction and non-fiction)

During Year 8 pupils will study:

  • War and Conflict (A thematic unit)
  • Poetry (World War 1 & poetry from other cultures)
  • A novel (Style, language and themes)
  • Influence and Argument (Persuasion across a range of texts and genres)
  • Telling Tales (From Fairy Tales to the horror genre)

Pupils will also participate in Accelerated Reader and an individualised spelling programme of study.


  • Ensure your child has all necessary equipment.
  • Encourage reading for pleasure by being a role model.
  • Listen to your child read and discuss the book.
  • Play word games e.g. Scrabble, Boggle, Bananagrams.
  • Encourage use of a dictionary and thesaurus.
  • Encourage reviewing of written work and re-drafting for improved technical accuracy.
  • Draw your child’s attention to items of interest in newspapers.
  • Encourage your child to examine all texts critically, e.g. leaflets, letters, articles, web pages, etc.

How to help your children enjoy their reading

Choose a quiet time

Set aside a quiet time with no distractions. Fifteen to twenty minutes is usually long enough.

Make reading enjoyable

Make reading an enjoyable experience. Sit with your child. Read sections, with or to them, or share narrative and character parts.  Try not to pressurise if he or she is reluctant. If your child loses interest then do something else.

Maintain the flow

If your child mispronounces a word do not interrupt immediately. Instead allow opportunity for self-correction. It is better to tell a child some unknown words to maintain the flow rather than insisting on trying to build them all up from the sounds of the letters. If your child does try to ‘sound out’ words, encourage the use of letter sounds rather than ‘alphabet names’.

Be positive

If your child says something nearly right to start with that is fine. Don’t say ‘No. That’s wrong,’ but ‘Let’s read it together’ and point to the words as you say them. Boost your child’s confidence with constant praise for even the smallest achievement.

Success is the key

Parents anxious for a child to progress can mistakenly give a child a book that is too difficult. This can have the opposite effect to the one they are wanting. Remember ‘Nothing succeeds like success’. Until your child has built up his or her confidence, it is better to keep to easier books. Struggling with a book with many unknown words is pointless. Flow is lost, text cannot be understood and children can easily become reluctant readers.

Visit the Library

Encourage your child to use both the public and school libraries regularly.

Regular practice

Try to read with your child on most school days. ‘Little and often’ is best.

Talk about the books

There is more to being a good reader than just being able to read the words accurately. Just as important is being able to understand what has been read. Take opportunity to discuss the unfamiliar vocabulary and inferences that can be drawn from the text.  Always talk to your child about the book; about the pictures, the characters, how they think the story will end and their favourite part. You will then be able to see how well they have understood and you will help them to develop their comprehension skills.  There are useful questions in the pupil planner to help you discuss books.

Variety is important

Remember children need to experience a variety of reading materials e.g.: Picture books, hard backs, comics, magazines, poems, and information books.  School will guide your child towards a reading level that is suitable for them to maintain reading progress but the most important factor in book choice is that it interests the reader.

Useful websites



https://www.spellzone.com/index.cfm (subscription paid by school 2018/19)

https://www.spag.com/ (Year 6 subscription paid by school 2018/19)

https://www.theteachertrain.com/mc-grammar (MC Grammar)

What career…?

English and excellent literacy skills are the building blocks to
accessing all careers.  More specifically, qualifications in English
Language and English Literature can be used in the following careers:

  • Journalism
  • Publishing
  • Law
  • Teaching


Love that Dog  This unit explores the story of Jack, his dog, his teacher, and words. The story develops through Jack’s responses to his teacher, Miss Stretchberry, over the course of a school year. The students will:

  • read, enjoy and perform poetry;
  • investigate the language, sound and rhythm of  poetry;
  • annotate and explain figurative language and write some poetry of their own; 
  • read between the lines to explore characters and write from different viewpoints.

To view some of their work, please click here   

A Contemporary Novel This unit allows students to read a complete novel and explore and respond to the development of the plot, character and themes through a variety of fiction and non-fiction tasks.  They will:

  • empathise with a character to create diary entries at various points in the story;
  • read individually and within small groups;
  • develop skills of inference and deduction;
  • discuss personal responses and support these with evidence from the story;
  • make predictions, speculate and hypothesise;
  • develop grammatical skills and understanding;
  • create news bulletins / reports about events in the story.


Extreme Weather This is a thematic unit in which  students  will read and write poetry, recounts and news reports.  They will:

  • use annotation to explain and comment on word choices;
  • use PEE (point, evidence, explain) to analyse texts;
  • look at the language, style and structure of news;
  • write a letter using appropriate conventions for the purpose and audience.

Mystery This unit will build upon the students prior knowledge of the conventions of various genre and explore mystery in particular.  Students will:

  • read and explain the features of different story genre;
  • make predictions from what is stated and implied;
  • examine how the structure and style of a mystery story creates tension / suspense; 
  • write a short story using the structure and techniques explored.

  SATs preparation Students will revise how to approach different types of questioning in the reading and SPaG papers.  


SATs preparation Students will revise how to approach different types of questioning in the reading and SPaG papers.  

Animals This is a thematic unit which will look at animals in literature and non-fiction. Students will:

  • comprehend the language and style of  older texts;
  • write a non-chronological report;
  • explore the language and structure of persuasive writing;
  • write a formal persuasive letter to a real audience;
  • develop skills of planning, drafting and editing.   

A Contemporary Novel This unit allows students to read a complete novel and explore and respond to the development of the plot, character and themes through a variety of fiction and non-fiction tasks.  They will:

  • research the background and context of the novel;
  • empathise with a character to create diary entries at various points in the story;
  • read individually and within small groups;
  • track the plot and structure;
  • build upon skills of inference and deduction to analyse implied meaning;
  • discuss personal responses and support these with evidence from the story;
  • analyse the writer’s style and effect on the reader;
  • use hot-seating to explore character viewpoint and motivation.

SPaG Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation is addressed throughout the year in the context of the units taught.

All schemes of learning are planned according to the strands within the KS3 framework  for reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Each term there will be a focus on spelling, grammar, and punctuation to consolidate basic skills and ensure progression to higher levels of functional literacy.  Within each scheme there are key assessments for speaking and listening, reading and writing to monitor progress.

Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar. 

Students will consolidate and build upon their knowledge and skills from KS2 so that they can analyse more challenging texts.  They will draw upon new vocabulary and grammatical constructions from their reading and listening and use these consciously in their writing and speech to achieve particular effects.


A Reading Unit

Boy – Roald Dahl

This unit focuses upon the study of an example of autobiographical writing and related fiction and information texts.  It provides opportunities learn about the childhood of a distinguished British writer and to:

  • recall and recount personal experiences;
  • write in the style of the author;
  • analyse how Dahl uses exaggeration to portray character;
  • participate in an oral presentation.

This Boy

This is an alternative reading unit for students who are working towards foundation level.  They will:

  • read and discuss the events and characters;
  • develop strategies to work out unfamiliar words;
  • discuss themes and how they relate to themselves;
  • analyse a character using PEE.


This unit will build on previous understanding of poetic techniques to examine poetry from their own and others’ cultural heritage. Students will:

  • analyse language and imagery;
  • experiment with rhyme and form;
  • explore mood and atmosphere;
  • analyse the structure and conventions of ballads.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream

This unit aims to develop students’ knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of Shakespeare and meet NC KS3 requirements to study a whole play. Using a variety of active and collaborative learning techniques students will:

  • develop understanding of Shakespeare’s use of language;
  • draw modern day parallels with themes, character and plot;
  • increase self-confidence to act in role.

In 2015 students will work with RSC actors to explore characters and themes.

Travel Writing

This non-fiction unit will explore various forms  travel writing including those designed to persuade. Students will:

  • identify the audience and purpose;
  • analyse techniques;
  • comment upon purpose and effect using supporting quotations;
  • create their own travel writing in the form of leaflet or article.



Students will explore a  range of fiction and non-fiction survival-themed texts, including tips on building a shelter from TV survival guru Ray Mears and articles about remarkably resilient pets, extracts from contemporary novels such as Life of Pi by Yann Martel, as well as classics like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.  They will:

  • research and plan a presentation for ‘Survival skills’;
  • create a magazine spread for survival in the modern world;
  • examine characters through role-play and then write PEE paragraphs;
  • explain and analyse how language  is used to create meaning;
  • write a news report;
  • create an advertisement for a survival experience targetting a teenage audience;
  • write creatively about a time something unexpected happened.


(These units may be taught in any order to allow sharing of resources.)

All schemes of learning are planned according to the strands within the KS3 framework  for reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Each term there will be a focus on spelling, grammar, and punctuation to consolidate basic skills and ensure progression to higher levels of functional literacy.  Within each unit there are key assessments for speaking and listening, reading and writing to monitor progress.

Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar

Pupils will consolidate and build upon their knowledge and skills from KS2 and Y7 so that they can analyse more challenging texts.  They will draw upon new vocabulary and grammatical constructions from their reading and listening, and use these consciously in their writing and speech to achieve particular effects.


War and Conflict

This unit explores a variety of texts and images drawn from diverse sources – from contemporary novels, non-fiction and classic literature and the poetry of WW1.  Students will:

  • explore how writing fits into the social and cultural context in which it was written;
  • explore how vocabulary and sentence structures create an effect;
  • use skills of inference and deduction;
  • analyse language, purpose and structure;
  • respond to texts analytically and creatively using hot-seating, recount, poetry and explanation.

Author Study

Students will read either Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ or a contemporary novel by a British author (e.g.Gibbons, Blackman, Boyne, Swindells)  and be encouraged to make comparisons with other works by the selected author or novels on a similar theme. They will:

  • share reading to improve confidence and adding expression;
  • work in role to understand character thoughts and feelings;
  • develop active reading strategies to improve their comprehension and analytical skills;
  • reflect on the themes of the novel(s), identifying the moral and ethical viewpoint of the text;
  • undertake a number of writing tasks which relate to theme, plot and character.


Influence and Argument

Students explore the structure and features of real texts that aim to argue and persuade.  They will:

  • examine how language and image can influence a reader or listener;
  • research, write and deliver a persuasive speech on a contemporary issue;
  • respond to a controversial proposal in the form of a formal letter to the editor.

Poetry from Different Cultures

Students will read and analyse a range of poetry from different cultures. They will:

  • explore how poets comment on the issues and attitudes to do with culture;
  • increase their knowledge and understanding of specific poetic terms;
  • explore how poets use words and images to create an effect;
  • analyse language and structure;
  • respond imaginatively to poetry  through drama and writing.

(These units may be taught in any order to allow sharing of resources.)


Telling Tales (Fairy tale to Horror)

In this unit the students will recap their knowledge of the conventions of fairy tales.  They will:

  • learn how to adapt the style and language for a range of forms, purposes and readers;
  • write from an alternative viewpoint;
  • create a modern re-telling;
  • compare a contemporary play (based on a traditional fairytale) with the original.

They will then explore the conventions of the  horror genre from the popular pre-20th century gothic literature (prose and poetry) to modern short stories and film. They will identify characteristics, make comparisons and discuss personal responses.

The students will work through a progressive series of lessons to produce well-crafted original narrative writing to entertain an audience.


We use persuasive and discursive arguments to debate, discuss and examine the power of words (both written and spoken) and images to influence and change opinion.

For example, examining how bias can influence our decisions and points of view in the ‘Influence and Argument’ unit.  Examining how journalists manipulate the reader through their choice of image and language.

The rule of Law

Individual Liberty

Mutual Respect

Pupils are taught to respect the cultures and beliefs of others through the media of poetry, narrative, journalism and other text types and to recognise that behaviour has its consequences. Being able to empathise with others and examine situations and settings outside of our individual experience is an explicitly taught skill. For example, in the novel ‘Wonder’ by R J Palacio, pupils examine the themes of physical disability and racial acceptance.  It is crucial, also, in speaking and listening exercises that children learn to listen and respond appropriately and respectfully and expect this in return.

Tolerance of those of Different Faiths and Beliefs


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