Vision Statement

The English department has the highest expectations of – and for – our students, which means we are committed to instilling a love of reading and learning in order to create independent learning, inquisitive and critical thinkers, who are able to make connections and draw links across their learning journey in English at St Mary’s.

Curriculum overview

The English curriculum at St Mary’s Catholic High School has been designed to encourage students to enjoy reading a wide range of texts, think critically and independently, express opinions and construct arguments in a coherent and dynamic manner. The new AQA specification that is followed at both Key Stages 3 & 4 ensures that all students are fully equipped to facilitate the skills required at GCSE level.

At Key Stage 3 we teach six modules for the academic year: a modern prose, Shakespeare and 20th Century plays, poetry, non-fiction and fictional units, creative writing module and a speaking and listening component. Students are assessed every 3 weeks following the AQA exam board specification and guidelines in preparation for an end of KS3 final exam that group students for KS4.

At Key Stage 4/GCSE students follow the AQA exam board’s course for both GCSE English Language and English Literature. In Year 10, all students are taught GCSE English Literature units such as a Shakespeare play, a 19th century novel, a modern text and GCSE English Language skills for both Paper 1: Explorations in creative reading and writing and GCSE English Language Paper 2 Writer’s Viewpoints and Perspectives. In Year 11, all students revisit their set GCSE English Literature texts, prepare for the unseen poetry section, complete their Spoken Language (Speaking and Listening unit) and fully prepare for both the GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature examinations. (Please see below the exam format)


The mission of the English Department is to stimulate and encourage an appreciation for English language and Literature. The Department of English and Literature at Saint Mary's Catholic High School delivers an innovative and thought-provoking curriculum in an engaging learning environment. The teachers within the department are dedicated in ensuring that all students are ready to serve their faith, family and future. We are extremely proud to equip learners in becoming ambassadors of the future. We cater to a wide range of ethnicities and thus help to broaden cultural experiences, improve skills in written and verbal communication, deepen and refine abilities in critical thinking, and prepare students for universities and/or careers.

Key Stage 3:

Year 7 Topics Taught:

  • Skellig by David Almond
  • Year 7 Ignite ( Grammar and Non-fiction)
  • A Christmas Carol (play)
  • An Introduction to Shakespeare
  • News
  • Poetry Unit: The Highwayman

Year 8 Topics Taught:

  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
  • Year 8 Ignite (Grammar and Non Fiction)
  • A Christmas Carol (novel)
  • Disaster Unit
  • Writing to Persuade
  • Poetry Power

Year 9 Topics Taught:

  • Of Mice and Men
  • Descriptive and Narrative writing (GCSE English Language Paper 1)
  • Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (GCSE English Literature Paper 1)
  • Reading and Writing Non Fiction (GCSE English Language Paper 2)
  • An Inspector Calls (GCSE English Literature Paper 2)
  • Introduction to GCSE English Literature love poetry (GCSE English Literature Paper 2)

Key Stage 3 Resources

Year 9:  'An Inspector Calls' Revision Guide CLICK HERE - NEW


Key Stage 4:

Year 10 Topics Taught:

  • GCSE English Language Paper 1
  • GCSE English Literature Paper 1: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
  • GCSE English Language Paper 2
  • GCSE English Literature Paper 1: Macbeth
  • GCSE English Literature Paper 2: An Inspector Calls Revision
  • GCSE English Literature Paper 2: Love and Relationships cluster Poems 1-6 & Speaking and Listening

Year 11 Topics Taught:

  • GCSE Unseen Poetry and Love and Relationship poetry anthology
  • GCSE English Language Paper 1 and Paper 2
  • GCSE English Literature Paper 1: A Christmas Carol and Romeo and Juliet
  • GCSE English Language Paper 2 and GCSE English Literature Paper 2 (An Inspector Calls)
  • GCSE English Language Papers 1 and 2 and GCSE English Literature Paper 1 and 2 Revision


For Year 11 GCSE Resources CLICK HERE

Year 11 Examination Preparation

Past Papers

To access exam papers and mark schemes click the following links:

GCSE English Language

Assessment guide

Grade descriptors

Specimen Papers 1 & 2

Mark schemes




GCSE English Literature

Examiner commentary

Grade descriptors

Specimen Papers 1 & 2

Mark schemes



Exam Technique

AQA GCSE English Language

Paper 1 Question 1


Paper 1 Question 2

Paper 1 Question 3


Paper 1 Question 4

Paper 1 Question 5

What do AQA Examiners Want in Descriptive Writing?





Paper 2 Question 1


Paper 2 Question 2

Paper 2 Question 3



Paper 2 Question 4

GCSE Viewpoints and Perspectives

Paper 2 Question 5

Writing to Persuade











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