Welcome to the English Department

 “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” Dr Seuss

 At The Ripley Academy, English is taught using a variety of stimulating and engaging learning strategies that aim to improve students’ communication, both written and verbal. The English Department staff are a dedicated and motivated team who bring a wide range of skills and interests to the department and to the students. English is a vitally important subject, not only because it is a core subject for all students, but also because it aids students in their study of other subjects by developing their key skills in reading, writing and verbal communication. Ensuring that students are adequately supported, and adequately challenged, is of paramount importance to us, and we aim to do this in a supportive atmosphere that enforces high standards at all times. 


Key Stage 3:

At KS3 students will develop their key skills of reading, writing and speaking and listening, through a wide range of topics and approaches. The students study a range of literature texts; studying traditional “classic” texts alongside a range of more modern texts. Please find below an overview of the learning that takes place in Years 7-9.


Year 7

Classic Tales – War with Troy and the story of Achilles

  • Modern novel – (Holes, Stone cold, Cirque du Freak, Pig Heart Boy, King of Shadows, Private Peaceful, War Horse)
  • Non-fiction texts and Media studies
  • Poetry – students study a range of poems, both pre-1914 poems and modern texts
  • Rhetoric – students study speeches and the use of rhetoric. They also get the opportunity to write their own speeches and develop their speaking & listening skills
  • Drama – students study A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare


Year 8

Modern novel – (Noughts and Crosses, Uglies, Northern Lights, Woman in Black, The Book Thief)

  • The Gothic genre – students study a range of texts from the Gothic genre, including short stories and extracts of more famous Gothic texts. They are given the opportunity to see how literature texts link thematically and to do some gothic writing of their own, using the conventions that they have learned
  • Creative writing – students will study creative writing, learning to write in a variety of creative ways. This will include a study of the Plague of Eyam, as well as other types of personal writing
  • War Poetry – students study a range of British war poets, including Wilfred Owen, Jessie Pope and more modern writers 
  • 19th century novel – students study either Oliver Twist, Jane Eyre or a selection of short stories of the 19th century. This is an opportunity for students to study a “classic” text and is good preparation for Year 10 and their GCSE qualification


Year 9

Year is a bridging unit and helps students to really develop the skills that are required for their study of GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature. This year is introduces students to GCSE level texts and encourages them to develop the more high-level academic skills they will require in Year 10. They will learn how to develop reading and writing skills, particularly extended writing and writing in timed conditions. Over the year students will study: 

An American novel (To Kill a Mockingbird OR Of Mice and Men). Students will develop their essay writing skills, particularly learning to consider a text within its context. 

  • Types of writing (students cover writing for a variety of purposes and audiences including writing to persuade, argue, advise, inform, explain and describe).
  • Poetry (students study a selection of poems that are linked by a theme: conflict, relationships, places). They learn how to analyse and interpret poetry independently and learn the important skill of comparing two literature texts. 
  • Drama – students study the play An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestley. Students will continue to develop essay writing skills, particularly considering dramatic techniques and how a text reflects the context in which it was written. 
  • Non-fiction media studies – students study a range of non-fiction texts and a film study of The Truman Show. This allows students to develop their skills in reading non-fiction, an important element of the GCSE examination. 


Key Stage 4:

All KS4 students follow the AQA GCSE English Language and English Literature specifications over 7 lessons per fortnight. More information on this can be found on www.aqa.org.uk/english/gcse

GCSE English is an academically rigorous subject and pushes students to utilise all of their skills in the subject. The content includes the study of a Shakespeare play, a 19th century novel, a cluster of poems and a modern novel. 

Please see below an overview of the texts studied for the English Literature qualification:

Modern novel: Lord of the Flies

  • Shakespeare play : Romeo and Juliet OR Macbeth
  • 19th century novel: Jekyll and Hyde OR Great Expectations
  • An anthology of poems

Through the study of these texts, students will develop their ability to: write essays, analyse and comment on the effects of language, structure and form in a text, read with understanding, make inferences about a text and understand the importance of contextual factors when studying literature. Alongside this, students will use these texts, and their study of them, as a springboard towards their English Language examination, supplementing this learning with work on non-fiction texts, narrative writing, and writing to express an opinion. At the end of Year 11 students will have 4 English examinations and will be awarded a double GCSE qualification.


Key Stage 5:

Two 'A' levels are offered at KS5:

 AQA Advanced English Literature Specification B, which includes the study of Literature of Love and the study of Modern texts. http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/as-and-a-level/english-literature-a-7711-7712

AQA Advanced English Literature and Language which includes the study of prose, poetry and drama for a more linguistic viewpoint. http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/as-and-a-level/english-language-and-literature-7706-7707

All Year 12 students have 9 hours of lessons per fortnight, whilst Year 13 students have 8 hours of lessons per fortnight. Please find more information on these courses in the sixth form section of this website. 



The department is dedicated to the use of Show my Homework in setting homework for English. Students should receive homework from their English teacher each week. This homework can range from reading tasks, research tasks, spellings, written pieces of work or taking notes from websites/youtube videos. It is at the discretion of the teacher to decide whether to set a range of shorter homeworks in a week, or one longer extended task. 

We would encourage all students to be reading at home as regularly as possible, even if this is not set as a specific homework. Please note that, particularly at GCSE, students will always have work that can be done at home as they should be re-reading their set texts, revising their lesson content and using the internet to research and extend their knowledge of the work that they are doing in lessons. 

Students completing homework is a school expectation and failure to do so will be picked up by the Curriculum Area Leader and raised as a concern. Intervention will be put in place for any student who persistently fails to complete their homework. 



The faculty has a suite of dedicated teaching rooms which are all equipped with projectors and whiteboards. The department working so closely together ensures a consistent approach to the study of English. The department also has a library room, where students can access reading books and where reading lessons and/or research lessons are often run. 



Clubs run throughout the year, but vary across the academic year. Further information is given to students about specific times and days for after-school sessions or clubs. All students are welcome to attend after-school sessions to complete their English homework and get extra support. These run regularly and students can get further information from their English teacher or from Mrs McIlroy. 


Useful links


English Literature revision activities: http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/subjects/zckw2hv

English Language revision activities: http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/subjects/zr9d7ty

English basic skills for GCSE: http://www.englishbiz.co.uk/

English Literature study guide notes for texts: http://www.sparknotes.com/

Examination board website: www.aqa.org.uk



If you have any questions regarding English, please feel free to contact Mrs McIlroy directly using the e-mail address provided.