Sir Graham Balfour School

A member of the Sir Graham Balfour Multi-Academy Trust


English and English Literature

Subject overview 

At Sir Graham Balfour we are committed to generating inquisitive and creative minds; students who can express their ideas fluently in speaking and writing; learners who are able to bring their own interpretations to all the texts we study.

The School gives a generous proportion of lesson time to the study of English because it underpins much of the wider school curriculum and develops vital social skills.   Our aim, from Year 7, is to prepare students to explore writers’ intentions and think deeply about the themes in each text and poem they study.  We have tailored the curriculum to build on essential skills learnt in Year 6 and follow a path through new topics to prepare learners for terminal examinations in both English Language and English Literature GCSE. 

We hope that every child will experience the ‘magic’ of a good book and so we encourage and support students in their independent reading.  Additionally, we study non-fiction texts, past and present, as well as the social, moral and historical contexts of all texts.

All this exciting reading helps to strengthen students’ own ability to write.  They will learn to express their ideas fluently and accurately in different forms of writing.  Speaking skills are developed through a range of approaches, including individual presentations, class discussion and group work: essential life skills.

Not only do we strive for academic excellence, we also hope that our passion for literature will help students to appreciate their literary heritage and grow into avid readers – and perhaps even the writers of the future.


Exam Specification –  AQA English Literature A

The course is broken into three parts:

  • A synoptic, comparative and contextual study of World War 1 and its Aftermath: a collection of poetry, a play, a novel and many extracts.
  • Coursework (non-examination assessment) which comprises of the study of one pre-twentieth century text compared to a second text.
  • A diachronic study of the topic, ‘Love through the Ages’. This must include a study of one Shakespeare text – often Othello, together with a collection of poetry and a novel, for example, The Great Gatsby or Wuthering Heights.

GCSE: Exam Board – AQA

Within English Language, students will develop skills in both the reading of texts and the growth of their own personal writing.  The development of these skills will allow students to access both modern fiction and non-fiction texts, as well as non-fiction writing published before 1900.

Within English Literature, students will study texts across a variety of forms.  These include; a play by Shakespeare, a pre-1900 novel, a modern drama, a poetry anthology entitled ‘Power and Conflict’ and a collection of unseen poetry.  From the studying of these texts, students will develop an independent and personal response to literature.


English Language

English Literature

Paper 1: Creative Reading and Writing (responses to a fictional extract followed by a writing section).


Paper 2: Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives (a response to two non-fiction extracts from different time periods followed by a writing section).

Paper 1: Shakespeare and Pre-nineteenth Century novel (Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth and Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde or The Sign of Four)


Paper 2: Modern Texts and Poetry. (An Inspector Calls or Lord of The Flies and Power Conflict Poetry plus unseen poems).

Year 9

At Key Stage Three, our curriculum brings a new topic each term, which aim to prepare learners for their terminal examinations.  The skills of analysis taught whilst studying the Literature texts strengthen and compliment the study of Language too. 

During Year 9, we begin to directly use the specific terminology from the assessment criteria that students will be frequently exposed to at Key Stage 4.  The topics we study are as follows:

  • Shakespeare’s Macbeth
  • A modern novel, for example, Animal Farm, To Kill a Mockingbird or Of Mice and Men
  • Preparation for Paper 2 Language: Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives, comprising range a range on non-fiction texts and students own writing to express a point of view
  •  A speaking and listening presentation
  • Creative Writing
  • Victorian Literature
  • The GCSE poetry Anthology collection – Power and Conflict.

Year 8

During Year 8, the following topics are covered:

  • Private Peaceful and a piece of writing to persuade
  • An introduction to Gothic Literature
  • A Shakespeare comedy, for example, Twelfth Night
  • A play
  • A thematic study of non-fiction texts.

Year 7

After a short ‘Transition Unit’, Year 7s study the following:

  •  A novel,  e.g. A Christmas Carol
  • Reading and writing of non-fiction articles
  • Introduction to poetry
  • A thematic study of fiction texts
  • Introduction to Shakespeare’s texts and context.



Sir Graham Balfour School
North Avenue
ST16 1NR

For Sat Nav directions:

ST16 1NJ


01785 223490