Welcome to the English Department

Our Department Vision

At Copthall, students are encouraged to become confident readers, writers and speakers through their study of English and Literature. 

The aim of the English curriculum is to develop our students as critical thinkers and effective communicators. We wish to instil intellectual curiosity and a love of Literature in all students; therefore, our curriculum incorporates texts from different times, places and voices. We recognise the functional importance of English in accessing all other subjects and in preparing our students for their futures in both education and the world of work. However, we also know that the study of English is so much more than this. At its core it is about understanding the human condition: the aspects of behaviour, feeling and morality that transcend time periods and cultures. Our curriculum content is designed to this end and we believe it develops essential values such as tolerance, respect and empathy.

There are three strands which underpin the English curriculum:

1. Heritage and Context

2. Genre and Form

3. Voice

In each year, topics from across these strands are taught. They connect together to build a model of progression from KS3 to KS5.

We place a high value on reading, as we recognise the impact that it can have on educational outcomes and individual wellbeing. Quality literature is integral to our curriculum, and where possible, we use it to teach essential English Language skills. In Years 7-9 our students have fortnightly library lessons, where they read books independently, as well as together with their teacher and peers.

A concerted effort has been made to incorporate texts by women writers or with central female characters, particularly within the limitations of examination content at KS4 and KS5. We wish to amplify and celebrate female voices in order to inspire the girls we teach. We also incorporate texts from other cultures to reflect the diverse population of our school.

The Curriculum Leader may be contacted via email


Document Downloads

English KS3 Curriculum Map 

English KS4 Curriculum Map 

Curriculum Road Map

Key Stage 3

The KS3 curriculum has been designed to interest and inspire. It utilises the best of what has been written and thought, in order to develop students’ reading, writing and speaking skills. 

In Year 7, we cover a range of texts and topics that introduce students to their literary heritage. The year begins with the roots of English Literature through exploration of Greek mythology, Beowulf and Arthurian legend. In the spring term, students are introduced to genre through fairy-tales such as Blue Beard, Yeh-Shen and Anansi. We also study Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In the summer term, we examine journeys, beginning with the literary ones featured in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and Patience Agbabi’s modern reimagining, Telling Tales. We then move on to non-fiction travelogues, exploring texts from a diverse range of writers and cultures.

Year 8 develops upon the foundations laid in Year 7, building students’ appreciation of their literary heritage through a range of poetry from different time periods and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. During the spring term, students explore the theme of witchcraft in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. In the summer term, we study voices of rebellion through George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Students also learn to develop their own voice, through a unit on the art of rhetoric. 

Alongside the main curriculum content, students have termly class readers which they enjoy during library lessons across Years 7 and 8. Novels vary, but include, ‘The Bone Sparrow’ by Zana Fraillon, ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry’ by Mildred D. Taylor and ‘of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck.

Key Stage 4

At KS4, students study for GCSEs in English Language and English Literature. Lessons are separated into these two subjects. 

In Year 9 this preparation begins with transitional units designed to familiarise students with GCSE skills. The Autumn term includes a unit on Dystopian Fiction which includes extracts from a range of writers including Margaret Atwood, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Octavia E Butler. In addition, students read and study William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. The spring term sees students explore the Gothic genre and their first GCSE exam text – the Love and Relationships poetry from the AQA anthology. In the summer, students study their second GCSE text – An Inspector Calls, by J.B. Priestley, and hone their written voice through a unit exploring broadsheet opinion pieces.  

In Year 10, the remaining literary texts are covered – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, alongside English Language units on fiction and non-fiction reading and writing. Year 11 sees students undertake a programme of interleaved revision, which culminates in their final GCSE examinations.  

Key Stage 5

A Level English Literature

Exam Board: OCR

Specification Number: H472

Level of Course: 3

Course Entry Requirements: Grade 6 for English Literature and English Language

Aim of Course:

Studying A Level English Literature enables students to gain knowledge of their literary heritage, and to develop a critical awareness of the issues and ideas that have shaped culture in the past two hundred years. Through comparison and close analysis of a range of novels, plays and poems, students will build a sophisticated understanding of the writer’s craft, along with an appreciation of how meanings are shaped by contexts. The course also provides an introduction to literary criticism, encouraging students to consider texts from different viewpoints and perspectives, including Feminism, Marxism and Psychoanalysis. A Level English Literature opens many avenues into further education, including journalism, creative writing, philosophy, teaching and law.

Course Content and Mode of Assessment:

Component 1: Drama and Poetry pre-1900 – 40% of A Level; 2 hour 30 minute written paper

Content overview:

  • Two questions on Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
  • Comparison of Selected Poems by Christina Rossetti and A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

Component 2: Comparative and Contextual Study – 40% of A Level; 2 hour 30 minute written paper

Content overview:

  • Close analysis of an unseen Gothic text
  • Comparison of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

Component 3: Literature post-1900 – 20% of A Level; two coursework pieces

Content overview:

  • Close analysis of a scene from A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
  • Comparison of The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett and Rapture by Carol Ann Duffy

Pre-/Wider Reading:

  • Any of the course content listed above
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  • The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
  • Any poetry by Carol Ann Duffy
  • Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen

Extra-Curricular Activities

We believe it is important to provide our students with cultural experiences that will enrich their study of English Language and Literature. In the recent past, we have taken groups of students to Shakespeare’s Globe and the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre to see various performances. We have organised in-school visits from theatre companies, and have taken our students to lecture days to enhance their contextual knowledge of GCSE and A Level texts.

We work closely with our school librarian to encourage reading for pleasure, and use Book Buzz and the Accelerated Reader programme to support with this.

Careers & Employment

The ability to communication clearly is an essential skill for all career pathways and higher education courses.

There are many careers and higher education courses that would be suited to a student with qualifications in English Language and Literature, such as broadcasting, journalism, publishing, law, teaching, lecturing, public relations, social media management, writing and lexicography. 

Recommended Reading

The lists below offer suggestions for wider reading to complement the study of English Literature at each Key Stage.

Key Stage 3 - Reading for Pleasure

Key Stage 4 - Reading for Pleasure

Key Stage 5 - Reading for Pleasure