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Devonport High School for Girls

English Literature

Head of Department

Mr T Ashley, BA (Hons)

Statement of Intent 

We believe that nurturing a lifelong love of literature and appreciation of the power of language is vital for students' social and moral development; sense of belonging and happiness. 

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 map shows the sequence 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. 

A Level Course Outline

The AQA A course approaches the study of literature through the lens of historicism, encouraging the independent study of a range of texts within a shared context. This unifying approach facilitates the inclusion of a range of wider reading, thus extending students’ experience and appreciation of literature.

Higher Education and Career Opportunities

About 40% of our students choose to study English as part of their degree, and this can lead to a wide- range of careers in Business, Local Government, Teaching, Law, Journalism and the Media.

Course Content

Examination Board


Full details of the specification and assessment criteria can be found on the AQA website

A-level English Literature A 7712 

A Level

Unit 1

Paper 1 - Love Through The Ages (40%)


Unit 2

Paper 2 - Texts in Shared Contexts (40%)



Non-examination assessment: Independent Critical Study (20%)

Curriculum Programmes of Study 


Cycle Content

Year 12

Cycle 1

      Unit 1      Unit 2

Love Through the Ages: an introduction + wider reading launch

Pre-1900 love poems:
Sonnet 116
Whoso list to Hunt
She Walks in Beauty
La Belle Dame Sans Merci. A Ballad
The Scrutiny
Absent from Thee
The Great Gatsby

Assessment: poetry

 Modern Literature: an introduction +   wider reading launch
 The Handmaids Tale (Atwood)
 Features of dystopian genre   
 Feminine Gospels (Duffy)
 The Diet
The Woman Who Shopped
 Themes:  control/conflict/Identity           (guided SWAN   assessment)
 All assessment objectives:   AO1/2/3/4/5

Cycle 2

The Great Gatsby

Pre-1900 love poems:
The Garden of Love
The Ruined Maid At
An Inn
Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno
Ae Fond Kiss

Assessment: The Great Gatsby and poetry comparison

Modern Literature: exploring typical themes and ideas
The Handmaid’s Tale
Feminine Gospels
The Map Woman
The Cord
Light Gatherer
Themes: The Past/Motherhood (guided SWAN assessment)
Consolidation of core knowledge

Cycle 3

NEA launch, guided planning (focus on research/writing skills/using critics/referencing)

Pre-1900 love poetry and The Great Gatsby interleaved

Mock: pre-1900 love poetry and The Great Gatsby

NEA launch, guided planning (focus on research/writing skills/using critics/referencing)

Focus on Handmaid’s Tale + Feminine Gospels interleaved Mock (Handmaid’s Tale and Feminine Gospels)

Year 13


Cycle 1

Shakespeare's play: Othello
Act 1
Act 2
Act 3
Aristotle’s Poetics and the 3 unities of drama

Assessment 1: Othello – familial love
Assessment 2: Othello – jealousy

Pre-1900 poetry and The Great Gatsby interleaved

Modern Literature
The Handmaid’s Tale (Atwood) and Feminine Gospels (Duffy)
Theme: Relationships (guided practice – SWAN assessment)
Top Girls (Caryl Churchill)
Act 1: Historical Tableau Focus on developing all assessment objectives (AO1/2/3/4/5)
Top Girls Act 2: Guided first SWAN assessment ‘thin and vagrant parallels’ question

Handmaid’s Tale and Feminine Gospels knowledge interleaved to support consolidation.

Cycle 2

Mock: Othello
Mock: pre-1900 poetry and The
Great Gatsby

Unseen poetry: Browning, Duffy, Rossetti, Millay, Clare, Marvell, Jonson, Thomas, Dyer and Dunn

Assessment: unseen poetry

Mock: Top Girls + Handmaid’s Tale & Feminine Gospels
Top Girls: motherhood/violence/women and work/Marlene + doubling of characters Unseen Prose: Race/Gender/Emptiness of Modern Life Handmaid’s Tale + Feminine Gospel’s: Personal is Political (guided)

Cycle 3

Rotation of all unit 1 texts:
Pre-1900 poetry
The Great Gatsby
Unseen poetry

Rotation of all unit 2 texts:
Handmaid’s Tale and Feminine Gospels Top Girls
Exploring links across Modern Literature: core themes
Independent practice/knowledge tests interleaved to consolidate precision and expertise of timed writing.