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Curriculum Intent

“One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter.”

James Earl Jones

We firmly believe that to fully enhance the life chances of our students, our curriculum must actively promote the acquisition and implementation of a broad vocabulary and a depth of understanding.  Put simply, knowing more words creates opportunities.  Our curriculum is intent on ensuring that this becomes a reality for all of our students.

At Holcombe we aim to deliver the following ambitious outcomes for our students through our curriculum. Students will:

  • Be aspirational and ready for the next step in life
  • Be effective communicators
  • Achieve high quality academic outcomes
  • Develop as effective, efficient, resilient learners who can work independently towards ambitious goals
  • Develop an awareness of their own strengths and acquire effective habits to be successful at school and beyond
  • Develop long term knowledge and skills which can be effectively deployed in new circumstances.
  • Develop the cultural capital to be able to successfully engage with a wide variety of social situations
  • Develop an awareness of their place as a citizen in the school, wider community and the world beyond

Key Stage 3

Our Key Stage 3 curriculum is structured to be continuous and cumulative, so that skills and key concepts are powerfully built on and re-visited over time with increasing depth, independence and sophistication in a spiral curriculum.

In Year 7, the curriculum focuses on Literary Heritage, which we believe underpins students’ progression through KS3 and beyond.  We carefully select texts from the Canon of English literature, such as Charles Dickens, who found inspiration in our local area, to ensure students are exposed to a broad range of writing styles and narrative voices. Students are also introduced to key literary concepts and terminology to support discussions on how historical context shapes language and literature.

In Year 8, the curriculum shifts focus to genre, building on the foundations of the literary concepts from Year 7.  Here, they explore how literature and language can be shaped by society.  By studying multiple genres, such as satire, horror, history plays and dystopia students will learn how to adapt their own writing styles according to the conventions, but also experiment with ways to challenge these conventions in order to convey meaning.

In Year 9, the curriculum prioritises Perspectives and Viewpoints, encouraging students to demonstrate empathy and approach texts and situations with maturity.  It provides them with multiple opportunities to experience what life is like in different places, in different times and to view life from a wide range of different identities.  The curriculum itself has been designed to create strong cohesion between the texts studied in Years 7 and 8 and those studied in Year 9, allowing students to powerfully build on prior knowledge as they interpret and assimilate the new.

‘Grow Words’

Our fundamental approaches to literacy and the crucial instruction of vocabulary throughout the Key Stage 3 curriculum is underpinned by the common dialogue of ‘Grow Words’. To express ideas clearly and precisely, as well as understanding others’ views are vital to comprehending the intricacies of language. From Key Stage 3 students are challenged to ‘grow’ their vocabulary through a familiar scheme that becomes a routine for them.  They are introduced to 5 new words each week, which they are encouraged to learn and apply in class discussion, classwork and homework.  There is also a termly competition to demonstrate their recall skills for House Points – as well as quenching a natural desire for peer competition.


Year 7 – Literary Heritage

Term 1Term 2Term 3Term 4Term 5Term 6
The Graveyard bookDickensPoetry Through the Ages'Julius Caesar' by William ShakespeareBiography WritingDystopia



Year 8 – Genre

Term 1Term 2Term 3Term 4Term 5Term 6
Animal FarmShakespeare’s ‘Richard III’Satire including Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ and Victorian LiteratureDetectives: FictionHorror and Gothic WritingRepresentation through poetry



Year 9 – Voices and Perspectives

Term 1Term 2Term 3Term 4Term 5Term 6
Shakespeare's verseCultural IdentityConflict through the Different LensesWomen in Literature'DNA' by Dennis KellyCreative Writing

KS3 Learning Journey

Please see attached Key Stage 3 Learning Journey for English.

Key Stage 4

Students will be studying both English Language and English Literature with the AQA Examination Board at Holcombe Grammar School.  The English Language GCSE is 100% exam and 20 % of this is determined by the quality of a student’s spelling, punctuation and grammar. Therefore, it is essential that pupils are perfecting their literacy skills and ensuring accuracy in their written work at all times. The other 80% of the course is separated into two sections: analysing a range of unseen texts and writing in a number of form, such as descriptive writing, narrative writing, reviews, magazine articles, formal and informal letters and advice leaflets, to name but a few.  Students will still be required to submit marks for the speaking and listening component of English Language GCSE and therefore will be required to complete a range of speaking and listening assessments throughout the 2 year course. Though these will not go towards their final grades, pupils will be awarded a certificate reflecting their ability to communicate coherently and effectively to an audience; skills which have been shown to be an important factor in the workplace.  Without question, a Level 6 or above in this subject is indispensable to anyone who wishes to apply to a more popular university and/or pursue a career with a reputable employer and this will require creative thinking, persistence and the ability to take responsible risks.

GCSE English Literature is also an important GCSE for its ability to enable students to decode texts and to plan cogent essays in response. Such reading and writing skills can be transferred into any situation where demanding language needs to be understood such as legal and financial documents. The study of Literature also allows students to debate moral and philosophical issues. Such study contributes to their moral and emotional development. The texts currently studied are Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’, Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle’s ‘The Sign of Four’ and the Conflict Poetry in the AQA Poetry Collection.



Year 10

Term 1Term 2Term 3Term 4Term 5Term 6
'Lord of the Flies' by William Golding. Weekly focus on Language, paper 1 reading‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding. Weekly focus on Language paper 2, writing (non fiction)Poetry Anthology: Power and Conflict. Weekly focus on unseen poetryPoetry Anthology: Power and Conflict. Weekly focus on Language paper 2, readingShakespeare's 'Macbeth'. Weekly focus on Power and Conflict poetry and Language paper 1, writingShakespeare's 'Macbeth'. Weekly focus on Language paper 2, reading



Year 11

Term 1Term 2Term 3Term 4Term 5Term 6
'The Sign of Four' by Arthur Conan Doyle. Weekly focus on Language, paper 1, reading'The sign of Four' by Arthur Conan Doyle. Weekly focus on Paper 2, readingLanguage, paper 2 (Reading and writing). Weekly focus on comparing 'Power and Conflict' poetry'Macbeth' and 'Lord of the Flies' RevisionRevision/GCSE ExamsRevision/GCSE Exams/Bridging gap to Year 12

Further Reading/Resources:

KS4 Learning Journey

Please see attached Key Stage 4 Learning Journey for English.

Years 12 and 13

English Literature

The Literature syllabus encourages students to develop interest in and enjoyment of English Literature, through reading widely, critically and independently, across centuries, genre and gender, and through experience of an extensive range of views about texts and how to read them.



Year 12

Term 1Term 2Term 3Term 4Term 5Term 6
Aspects of Tragedy: 'Othello' by William Shakespeare; The poetry of John Keats; Study of the AQA Critical AnthologyAspects of Tragedy: 'Othello' by William Shakespeare; 'Death of a Salesman' by Arthur Miller'; Study of the AQA Critical AnthologyElements of Crime Writing; 'The Murder of Roger Ackroyd' by Agatha Christie; 'Atonement' By Ian McEwan; Study of the AQA Critical AnthologyElements of Crime writing; 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and 'Atonement' by Ian McEwanElements of Crime Writing: 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Introduction to NEA (Non-Examined Assessment)

NEA (Non-Examined Assessment) Preparation; Unseen Extracts




Year 13

Term 1Term 2Term 3Term 4Term 5Term 6
Crime: connecting texts; comparing using all texts from paper 2Linking Texts: The Poetry of John Jeans and 'Death of a Salesman' by Arthur MillerDrama revision: 'Othello' by William Shakespeare and 'Death of a Salesman' by Arthur MillerNovel revision and retrieval: 'The Murder of Roger Ackroyd' by Agatha ChristieExam Practice: Revision of Key TextsRevision and Exam Skills

English Language/Literature

The Language and Literature syllabus encourages students to engage creatively, critically and independently with a wide range of texts. Using literary and linguistic methods, students will analyse literary and non-literary texts in a range of modes and genres, in the process gaining insights into the nature of different discourses and ideas about creativity. Students will develop skills as producers and interpreters of language by creating texts themselves and critically reflecting on their own processes of production.



Year 12

Term 1Term 2Term 3Term 4Term 5Term 6
An introduction to Linguistic Techniques and Poetic voices: Heaney Poetry Anthology for AQA/Remembered places: Paris anthologyPoetic voices: Heaney's AQA Poetry AnthologyRemembered places: AQA's Paris Anthology and Imagined worlds:  Sebold's 'Lovely Bones'Remembered places: AQA's Paris Anthology and Imagined worlds: Sebold's 'Lovely BonesNEA (Non-Coursework Assessment) introduction/research/theory and Dramatic encounters: 'A Streetcar named Desire' by Tennessee Williams 'A Streetcar Named Desire' by Tennessee Williams and Completion on NEA (Non-Examined Assessment)



Year 13

Term 1Term 2Term 3Term 4Term 5Term 6
Writing about Society: 'The Great Gatsby' by F.Scott Fitzgerald and Comparative Responses - Heaney Poetry'Writing about society: The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald and revision of 'The Lovely Bones' by Alice SeboldRevision of the AQA Paris Anthology and Heaney PoetryRevision of 'The Lovely Bones' by Alice Sebold and 'A Streetcar Named Desire' by Tennessee WilliamsExam Practice and Revision of Key TextsRevision and Exam Skills

KS5 Learning Journey

Please see attached Key Stage 5 Learning Journey for English.


Studying A Level English Literature will help you to develop your ability to effectively communicate, both orally and in writing. You will also develop skills in: independent working; time management and organisation; planning and researching written work; articulating knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories; leading and participating in discussions; effectively conveying arguments and opinions and thinking creatively; using your judgement to weigh up alternative perspectives; and critical reasoning and analysis.

The acquisition of these skills means that A-Level English Literature is a highly prized A Level which opens routes to many courses at university and in the world of work.

Meanwhile, studying A Level English Language and Literature will give you the best of both worlds: it will develop you as a critical thinker whilst, at the same time, lighting the creative fires in you.  You will engage innovatively and independently with a range of spoken, written and multimodal texts and this will prepare you to engage with, critically assess and utilise language in any setting.

The opportunity to undertake independent and sustained studies in this subject, honing skills as both producers and interpreters of language along the way, will be excellent preparation for future study and a stepping stone to self-sufficiency.  The chance to write creatively will certainly encourage you to take more risks and build confidence in your own abilities.  English Language and Literature inspires you to grow as individuals.  It cares about what you think.

Finally, the flexibility of an English Language and Literature qualification is unsurpassed, supporting innumerable career paths, from Finance to Law to Medicine – it is highly prized and one that no student should underestimate the value of.

British Values

Democracy: Abuses of democracy are taught throughout every Key Stage, through texts such as ‘Animal Farm’, Shakespeare’s ‘Richard III’ and Grace Nichols’ poetry, to name but a few.  Ideas of democracy and abuse are further explored by students through research of how context affects the ideas presented in literature and through the speeches of individuals such as key politicians or political activists.

Rule of law: This is explored in KS4 through ‘Macbeth’ when students examine the divine right of Kings and also throughout their studies looking at how the rule of law has affected individuals’ rights throughout history.

Individual Liberty: The rights of women are considered throughout all key stages. Students study traditional gender roles in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in Year 7 and in 19th Century Literature in Years 8 and 9 and how writers challenge these in more modern literature.  KS5 has a strong focus on individual identity through the study of texts such as Tennessee Williams’ ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. Students also study the speeches of Martin Luther King looking at the Civil Rights Movement and poetry from writers such as John Agard, who challenge Eurocentric perspectives of an individual’s identity.

Mutual respect: Texts are chosen with the express purpose of enabling students to identify and challenge discrimination of any kind.  Respect for other cultures is spotlighted in texts such as in Year 7 and in This is further explored in Year 9 through poetry from different cultures and texts such as Dennis Kelly’s ‘DNA’. Respect for different classes is also studied in Year 7 in ‘Animal Farm’ and Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ and in Year 8’s Detective Fiction scheme of work’, to name but a few.   Discussion is encouraged in all lessons as this, in itself, demonstrates the practice of democracy and supports students’ understanding of fairness and citizenship, as well as promoting tolerance for the viewpoints of others.

Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs: Tolerance of other faiths is examined in depth in our Year 7 Poetry Through the Ages unit, Other Cultures unit in Year 9, as well as in KS5 texts such as Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ and Seamus Heaney’s poetry.