English – Subject Content

Accelerated Reader

Testwood Sports College has recently purchased  Accelerated Reader  software.  Year 7 are participating initially.Accelerated Reader (AR) produces an average of two years’ reading age growth in just one academic year while promoting reading for pleasure.

AR is a powerful tool for monitoring and managing independent reading practice. With AR, teachers can create a reading programme to meet the needs of every student.

Using information generated by the software, teachers can help students select books that are difficult enough to keep them challenged, but not too difficult to cause frustration. In addition, it helps teachers to monitor students’ vocabulary growth, literacy skills development and reading skills taught through other reading schemes.

Year 7: Term One

The first thing you learn in your time at Testwood is how to ‘Speak Like A Scholar’. Students will study a range of ‘think talk’ skills which will enable them to translate their thoughts into writing, which helps engage students with how to communicate effectively in the English classroom.

After that it’s on to a film study unit: looking at this ‘big question’: How does the director of Despicable Me gain and retain the interest of the audience? This extract-based unit allows students to understand how to ‘read’ film through looking at how directors make use of mise-en-scene, complex characterisation and iconic camera angles.

Finally, at the end of term things start to get a bit Christmassy when we look at Dickens and ‘A Christmas Carol’. This unit examines ‘the writer at work’ – how did society affect Dickens’ writing and how is meaning conveyed through character, language, dramatic devices and historical context. Students will research the life of Charles Dickens using independent research methods, read ‘A Christmas Carol’ and explore how Dickens’ life affected the themes in the novel.

Term Two:

The first scheme we look at in the Spring term helps us to understand the Gothic genre and then use that understanding to create a story using Gothic conventions. Students will look at how writers such as Edgar Allan Poe make use of devices such as pathetic fallacy and build tension through punctuation for impact, and then use that knowledge to create some spooky writing of their own!

Next, it’s time to look at the Bard with an overview of Shakespeare’s life and times. The purpose of this scheme of learning is to get used to Shakespearean language and to look at why his stories are still performed all over the world today. Students will delve into the language used by Shakespearean characters and investigate the ways directors ‘bring the words to life’.

Term Three: Watch this space!


Year 8: Term One

The year starts with a look at travel writing; prompted by inspiring images of amazing places around the world you learn a variety of linguistic and structural ways to excite your reader and persuade them to visit a destination of your choice. You will also learn ‘slow writing’ techniques – ways of concentrating fully on your word choices to make them the most ambitious they can be.

After this, we look at inspirational speeches. From Barack Obama to Kid President, we explore how language and non-verbal communication is used by speakers to motivate large crowds of people. A great way to build confidence, this scheme will help you learn a variety of rhetorical devices which will be useful in all your writing and speech!

Finally, Year 8s complete a novel study. There are a wide range of novels which can be studied, from The Hunger Games to Private Peaceful.

Term Two:

The spring term starts with an investigation into three of Shakespeare’s darkest villains; Iago, Macbeth and Richard III. Students will have to decide which villain they think is the most evil and write an essay which explains their choice. In their essay, they must compare characters but be critical throughout.

We then take a look at how writers use language to express their opinions through looking at ‘the extreme’. From base-jumping to size zero, hoarders to extreme minimalists, we look at the extremes in life and how writers have communicated their views on this. Students will learn the valuable skill of ‘unpicking’ language and evaluating why a writer chose a specific word of phrase.

Term Three: Watch this space!


Year 9: Term One

The year starts with a look at how messages are conveyed effectively though a combination of images and speech. Students learn what the conventions of documentary and voice over are which they apply in a written piece; they also learn how to address all of the relevant writing assessment focuses such as using structure, punctuation and vocabulary to add effect to their writing. The interim task is a creative writing task aimed to engage and inspire the students. The unit culminates in a key assessment task of writing a voice over script for a documentary about the World Trade Centres.

Following this, students examine a range of poetry from World War One, looking at how writers use imagery in their language and structure their writing to create an effect on the reader. This is also an investigative unit into the reality of life in the trenches, from which students produce a piece of creative writing, using a range of ‘slow writing’ techniques.

Students then complete a novel study, from a range of novels within the department.

Term Two:

Students will complete a media unit based on the study of the film ‘Captain Philips’, focussing on how the director structures the film to add tension and drama. This powerful film also offers a range of ideas for debates on many interesting contemporary issues and allows students to hone their skills in weighing up evidence and offering alternative interpretations.

Students then look at Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The study of this play is supplemented by a visit from the Young Shakespeare Company and as well as allowing students to evaluate how dramatic techniques are used to portray the characters, students also delve into the language and themes of forbidden love, evaluating how the story is still relevant today.

Term Three: Watch this space!


Year 10

In year 10, pupils are given the opportunity to explore and create fiction and non fiction texts. Pupils start their GCSE course, writing four controlled assessments for their English Language GCSE and one piece of extended writing which contributes towards their English Literature GCSE.

Pupils are given the opportunity to explore classic literature texts, such as ‘Of Mice and Men’, tracking George and Lennie’s journey through the struggles of the Great Depression of California. Pupils also explore the drama text of “An Inspector Calls” where they identify techniques that the playwright uses to engage the audience by slowly releasing clues to the tragic death of Eva Smith. Pupils also get to write creatively and passionately, understanding the conventions of a rant article and having a go themselves, at structuring a controlled, yet passionate rant about the 21st Century.

A great focus is given to the accuracy of pupils’ written work. They are exposed to a variety of text purposes which enable them to develop confident use of sophisticated punctuation. Pupils are also encouraged to become confident speakers through assessment of their ability to give a speech, adapt to a role and contribute to discussions, skills that pupils will find invaluable once they have left Testwood.


Year 11
In year 11, pupils work towards their English Language and Literature GCSE. They follow the AQA specification. They are fully supported in their preparations for their exams through regular assessment and feedback, small group intervention and the offer of weekly revision sessions. By year 11, pupils will have already finished their controlled assessments and therefore, a greater focus is on achieving well in the examination which is worth 60% of the GCSE.

For their English Language GCSE, pupils study a range of non fiction texts, analysing and interpreting how they have been written to achieve their purpose. They also learn how to write non fiction texts themselves, identifying how language can be used to manipulate the audience, matching purpose and form. There is a large emphasis on pupils writing accurately, using a wide range of punctuation to achieve desired effects. To support the requirements of the examination, we encourage pupils to read a wide range of non fiction literature, such as news websites and blogs. Pupils are also required to sit three mock examinations per year, ensuring that they are fully prepared for the examination ahead.

For those pupils who are also studying English literature, a number of fiction texts are studied in depth. Pupils will take two literature examinations that are worth 60% of their final GCSE grade. Pupils study the novel Of Mice and Men, focusing upon how Steinbeck engages the reader through characterisation, plot and social context. There is a large historical focus on The Great Depression and The American Dream, allowing pupils to consider Steinbeck’s views and opinions in a period of change. Pupils also fully explore the play An Inspector Calls, looking at how the author uses dramatic techniques to engage the audience. Finally, pupils are required to study a selection of poems from the likes of William Shakespeare, Vernon Scannell and Carol Ann Duffy. In the examination, pupils are to compare the effects of two poems and are taught a rigorous and effective structure throughout the course.