Our approach to the teaching of English is based upon the following core principles:

  • The teaching of writing must come out of reading and the study of existing examples.
  • Students should be immersed in rich and varied examples of language in action.
  • Grammar should be taught explicitly but always contextualised within a wider topic.
  • Students should be afforded regular contexts for ‘real-purpose’ writing.
  • Speaking and listening should be re-prioritised and oracy for literacy promoted.
  • Writing about reading should focus on how writers use language to communicate meaning.
  • Inference should be taught explicitly from the earliest point.
  • Learning is gradual. To become embedded, skills must be returned to at various intervals in order for neural pathways to solidify. Topics should not be rushed.


KS3 English at Hele’s is designed to develop curiosity, criticality and an appreciation and love for reading and learning in general. Through a largely chronological curriculum, students are extremely well-prepared for success at KS4 and KS5 as a result of our pedagogical approach of teaching key grammatical, structural and analytical skills as embedded parts of our knowledge-rich schemes of learning in which students will encounter and study seminal works from canonical writers.

Year 7:

  1. Grammar for Writing - A unit to reinvigorate students’ reading habits, to build upon primary grammar, and to develop writing skills.
  2. Autobiography - Autobiographical writing skills, with reading skills developed through study of Roald Dahl’s ‘Boy’.
  3. Epics and Myths - Predominantly a writing unit, focusing on constructing a narrative. Founded upon consideration of storytelling across time, including Beowulf.
  4. Introduction to Shakespeare - This year the focus is on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Study of character and plot, features of Shakespearean comedy, and essay writing.
  5. War in Literature - Extended study of how a theme is developed throughout literature, using poems, non-fiction, and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.
  6. Critical Voice - Non-fiction writing and speaking and listening, focusing on expressing viewpoint.
  7. Speech and Drama - Teaching skills of verbal and non-verbal communication, culminating in a solo/pair spoken presentation

Year 8:

  1. Linguistic Imagery - Recognising and analysing writers’ use of figurative language, incorporating reading and writing skills
  2. The Gothic - Focus on Gothic literature, including Milton’s Epic similes, descriptive writing, and study of The Woman in Black.
  3. Romeo and Juliet - This year’s Shakespeare focuses on tragedy, with teaching of Aristotle’s model and recognition of the tragic hero.
  4. Downtrodden Voices - Considering representations of ‘downtrodden’ characters throughout the literature of writers such as Dickens, Hardy and Orwell.
  5. Persuasion and Rhetoric - Development of spoken language skills through study of classical Cicerone rhetoric
  6. Of Mice and Men - Extended prose novel study, focusing upon context, and development of theme and character.
  7. Romantic Poetry - Study of an anthology of heritage and modern poetry centred around town and country.

Homework at KS3 is set once per week by the class teacher and may consist of learning key subject terminology, reading around a subject, developing classwork, or a more extended project.

Equipment needed:

  • Suitable writing equipment
  • A reading book
  • You will need to have your own dictionary and thesaurus for home learning purposes. It is also useful to have this in school.

English and Media Option GCSE

English Language and Literature Option GCSE

Triple Option GCSE

Key Stage 5

The department offers three stimulating and thought-provoking A Level subjects: English Literature, English Language and Media Studies. These are subjects that foster creativity and encourage investigative and inquiry skills.

Highly regarded for its academic rigor, A Level English Literature does not just prepare you for reading English at university. This is a subject that cultivates flexibility of thinking (your ability to adapt to new situations, improvise, and shift strategies to meet different types of challenges); nurtures interpretative, analytical and evaluative skills, and demands articulate and eloquent communication. These prized transferable skills are well received by almost all fields of further study or employment.
English Literature is one of the most popular degree courses offered at university and many graduates go into print and television journalism, publishing, law or teaching.
We follow the AQA Specification A course.

The challenging academic standards and expectations of A level English Language, and the breadth of study within the course, make it a highly adaptable qualification – with applications across any subject or career path where communication and presentational skills are important. As per the study of English Literature, studying English Language will hone your analytical skills, develop your ability to investigate and explore your ideas, and refine your written and oral communication skills. It will also challenge you to engage with, explore and evaluate critical viewpoints and linguistic theories.
Well regarded by universities, an A level in English Language may lead you to study language, journalism, advertising, media, publishing, communications, law, business studies or psychology at degree level.
We follow the AQA English Language Course.

Media Studies provides a useful foundation for any degree in the arts or business. You will develop your analytical skills, visualise and plan practical work independently, research and formulate lines of inquiry and express complex ideas clearly in writing. These skills provide a firm foundation for study at higher education level and the areas of study provide a good background particularly for careers in journalism, advertising, marketing, television, PR or training.
We follow the AQA Media Studies course.

Creative Writing

As part of the English curriculum, pupils are encouraged to write and think creatively. We run many opportunities for pupils to stretch their creative wings, including competitions, both within school and externally, and creative writing club. Enjoy these brief extracts…!

Acrostic poems about Sharpitor and Dartmoor

Dangerous routes to
A peaceful preserved land
Resting on
The sponge grass
My soul is calm
Over all this nature
Obviously a world’s treasure
Really an untouched natural wonder

By Mika

Scattered rocks produce a bubble of peace
Howling wind is silenced by the tor
Around the peak the hills rise
Reservoirs sparkle in the beaming sunlight
Plymouth sound stands strong in the distance
Intrigue takes over with questions and questions
Tendrils of sun beam into your eyes
Over the horizon the blue sky sinks
Rain is surrounding the Sharpitor peak

By Alex

Smell the air
Hear the chirping of the birds
Across rocks and mountain tops
Running down the hills
Peering across valleys
In contact with the National Park
Take a breath of fresh air
Over the hills and far away
Rivers flowing down the bank

By James

Silence through the rocky hills
Hills covered with granite
Areas surrounded with fresh grass
Racing through the powerful winds
Plants mysteriously appearing
In contact with the animals habitat
Trees growing wildly around
Over the hill towns get bigger
Rivers flowing to the valleys

By Emma

About a person walking through a meadow at sunrise
Walking amidst the poppies, the fresh fragrance of spring meets my rosy nose. The wild flowers that surround me brightly and eagerly burst through the wholesome soil. My bare feet ponder, cushioned by the sprightly shards of green, green grass. I see the sunrise beaming, full of life and wonder, across the merry meadow that embraces my lonely soul. I hear the whispers of water trickling through the stream, the fishes travelling with the river. The subtle sound of birds singing, in their early daylight chorus. Little ladybirds, totter beneath me and sky hawks soaring above. The dawning day’s begun. – Elizabeth

The vague child; my past, my future, my life. I took him in, I didn’t know what to do. A young, innocent child; only a few months old. His hands; as soft as rubber, his eyes gleaming in the dark.
Can I do it?
Can I be the one who takes this lonely, innocent child in?
But I’m not human, how should I know what he wants.
Caring is not in my nature; but everyone must adapt.
Chameleon’s change their colour.
Frogs swim in water.
I must change as well; like all living creatures.
So I took him in, forever.
– Dylan

The Adventurous man
My life is at its peak. Thrill strikes through my veins. All started from one treasure I was destined to have. Anyone who tries to get in my way will be dealt with. Companions travel with me, assisting me along the way. But towards the end, when the deed is done, I will not care. It will be mine. Cuts, bruises and near death experiences are valued to me while I battle my way through thick forests of people Betrayal is a part of my life – so many have. My last adventure is nearing. Last day on the job. Let’s go! – Duncan

The man’s point of view from the laboratory

As she puts her soft red lips to her goblet,
I do the same.
The liquid death I placed in her wine should cause her searing pain.

We both smile at each other as the realization hits
We’ve both been overcome by a poisons grip,
It feels like a fire surging through my bones
I can hear my heart pounding through her deafening moans.

Our fate’s been sealed,
There’s no going back now.
Like a mirror image we both drop our goblets to the floor
How could I let her deceive me once more? – Amelia

Mary Queen of Scots
By Ciera

she is round the corner,
Observing me.
Does she know my secret?

I have been plotting continuously,
supporters flock to my standard
I know I will triumph
I shall reign

They have found me out
They know my plan
Walshingham will come now
I must flee

To France now
I was once their queen
They will welcome me with open arms
My cousin shall not imprison me.

She has me
now I will die
She will have me on the block
but I will die with my dignity,
like the queen I am
Red for a Catholic martyr

The English department is also home to our Latin classes. Studied as an optional extra by current students in Years 7, 8, 9 and 10, Latin deepens understanding of English grammar, develops competences in Modern Foreign Languages and provokes an in-depth understanding of Roman classical civilisation and culture. Students work towards an accredited GCSE-equivalent qualification which will be highly favourable in applications to universities or further study providers.

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