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Devonport High School for Girls

Name of Head of Department

Mrs H Morgan BA (Hons), PGCE, NPQSL

Introduction to the department

Our curriculum is ambitious, sequenced, knowledge-rich and underpinned by the cumulative acquisition of skills.

Our Literature text choices from Y7 to Y13 are diverse and challenging to ensure all students build a body of knowledge that develops both their appreciation of literature and their cultural capital. The curriculum overview shows the pattern through genres and time periods to enable students to apply and extend knowledge as they progress through the curriculum. Our curriculum covers 6 core areas of English Language and English Literature: prose, poetry, Shakespeare/Drama, writing (creative and non-fiction), wider reading and independent learning. 

All core areas interleave the following 7 skills:

  • Structure and Coherence: this is the understanding that texts are put together with intent. Once students understand this about the texts they read, they think differently about the way they write.
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar: this is taught as a fortnightly lesson in y7; decontextualized from the curriculum texts. This is to teach and embed the skills in the first year as grammatical rules and not attached in long-term memory to a specific text/task. Research shows that this approach is more robust in terms of retaining knowledge of SPAG. From y8 onwards, SPAG is reviewed throughout units to secure knowledge and introduce new vocabulary and sophisticated use of punctuation and sentence structures.  
  • Awareness of impact: this is the understanding that writing is shaped by the priorities of a writer and the needs of a reader. This includes the teaching of genre, audience, purpose vocabulary, tone and style.
  • Understanding context: this is crucial to making sense of and appreciating texts. The knowledge of context of production and reception is an essential aspect of Literature changes the way students read and respond to a text. Our curriculum introduces the importance of context from y7 and the range of themes and context that our curriculum texts cover is diverse; shaping our students to have an insightful understanding of many aspects of pre and post-1900 society across cultures.
  • Using evidence: our students are taught the SQI (statement/quote/inference) method from Y7 in order to develop an academic style of writing that is about shaping a critical response by interpreting the writer’s craft through signposted inference.
  • Analysing methods: this is understanding that writers use a variety of linguistic and structural techniques to achieve their intent.    
  • Oracy: our curriculum aims to facilitate classrooms rich in talk in which questions are planned, and peer conversations are modelled and scaffolded to ensure students develop the confidence to effectively articulate their views and to work cooperatively.       

Key stage 3  (Year 7 and 8)  

KS3 curriculum explores a range of fiction and non-fiction texts with the aim of providing a supportive and challenging transition and to embed the key skills of literary analysis. Students begin Y7 with a Jane Eyre unit and progress through non-fiction, creative writing and a selection of poetry and prose. In Y8, students study Much Ado About Nothing, Poetry from different cultures and the novel Of Mice and Men.  A strong focus on wider reading is maintained throughout both Y7 and Y8. Support information for new year 7 students is available below.

Key stage 4 (Year 9, 10 and 11) 

The students follow the AQA GCSE Language and Literature specification.  Year 9 is a transition year in which students develop GCSE level skills across a range of fiction and non-fiction texts. In Y10 and Y11 the core Literature texts studied are Romeo and Juliet, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and a short story and poetry and anthology collated by AQA. A range of non-fiction texts from 19th century to the present day are studied in preparation for the Language exams in both Y10 and Y11. 

Full details of the specification and assessment criteria can be found on the AQA website GCSE English Language Specification and GCSE English Literature Specification

Extra-curricular activities 

There are a range of extra- curricular opportunities such as the English Department magazine ‘The Blurb’ and several book groups that provide a forum for girls to share their love of reading. A yearly competition ‘Poetry by Heart’ and the Carnegie book awards provide further enrichment for KS3 students. There are also assemblies to celebrate World Book Day and links with Plymouth University for students studying English Literature at A level.