What do we study in English at Ridgeway?

Why do we study English at Ridgeway?

At its heart, the broad and ambitious English curriculum is centred on fostering a curiosity about the world and examining what it means to be human. Embedded into the curriculum will also be the key life skills of empathy, tolerance and respect which, therefore, helps us fulfil the Ridgeway 360 promise. Students will be exposed to a diverse range of texts, both modern and those recognized as part of our literary heritage, therefore enabling students to not only develop a sense of literary history, but also to comprehend and challenge the world around them; expanding their world view and understanding of potential experiences lived.

The well planned and sequenced curriculum not only allows for students to constantly be challenged by new ideas and concepts but ensures a constant development of vocabulary and literary terminology to help cultivate a precision in articulating ideas and arguments. A clear mapping of skills and focused assessments will ensure that students are continually being challenged to think and create independently and to present well-reasoned arguments and opinions.

Through the varied texts and contexts explored in the English curriculum, students will foster an appreciation for the value of excellent reading, writing, and speaking and listening skills. Not only will this ensure proficiency in these essential skill sets but help ensure that these key skills are secure in order to access all other curriculum areas and underpin successful study at all levels. Students will not only be SATs and GCSE ready but will be well equipped to be engage with the wider world in a critical and imaginative way.

English programme of study at Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9)

The thematic approach which underpins the Key Stage 3 programme of study at Ridgeway Secondary School, allows students not only gain a secure understanding of the key concepts and ‘big ideas’, which form the key threads of our literary history, but to develop a solid skills base which will enable students to continually develop their critical thinking skills of inference, analysis and evaluation, and to write creatively and persuasively with originality and flair.

The key themes are based around the four conflicts which are the basis for both the development and exploration of literature. The four conflicts are: Man versus self, Man versus Man, Man versus society and Man versus nature. The themes which form the units of study of the English Key Stage 3 curriculum are as follows:


Year 7 Year 8 Year 9
War and Peace

The Power of Nature

Misunderstood Voices (Shakespeare Study I)

Gothic, Horror and the Unknown

Crime and Punishment

Different Perspectives and Unheard Voices

Social Injustice (Seminal World Literature Study)

Power, Politics and Protest

Love and Relationships (Shakespeare Study II)

Each module of study will focus on a central text which is supported by further study of key extracts and supplementary texts. This allows for students to constantly revise key ideas and terminology in different but related contexts, and track, review and evaluate arguments between contemporary and historical fiction.

Reading skills will also be supported through the Accelerated Reader programme and a designated reading lesson every fortnight in the LRC, which will further highlight and provide opportunities to explore a range of spiritual, moral, ethical, social and cultural issues.

English programme of study at Key Stage 4 (Years 10-11)

At Key Stage 4, students will develop and deepen their understanding of the ideas, vocabulary, literary terminology and key skills studied at Key Stage 3, through the GCSE English Language and GCSE Literature programmes of study.

The GCSE Language and Literature courses will be studied simultaneously, allowing students a range of contexts to practise key skills and review and recap knowledge.

The set texts chosen from the GCSE Literature specification are:

  • A Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde or A Christmas Carol (19th Century Text)
  • An Inspector Calls (Modern Text)
  • Macbeth (Shakespeare text)
  • Power and Conflict poetry cluster

Both qualifications are 100% examination, with both Literature exams, being closed book exams.

The GCSE English Language qualification consists of two examinations, both a reading and writing section. Paper 1 examines the skills of inference, analysis (language and structure) and evaluation in response to an unseen fiction extract. Students will also be asked to demonstrate their ability to write creatively in response to an image or given title or idea.

Paper 2 examines the skills of inference, synthesis, analysis, and comparison in response to two nonfiction sources. Students will also be asked to write persuasively or to inform in a range of forms. Students will also have to complete a Speaking and Listening NEA that is awarded separately to the English Language qualification.

Homework expectations

Homework is an essential aspect of the curriculum to enhance and support learning completed in the classroom. Students will be given diverse range of assignments from research-based activities to reading skills practice and writing tasks. All be designed to support independence in reinforcing knowledge, vocabulary and skills identified in the curriculum.

How can parents and guardians support at home?

As well as monitoring homework and supporting with independent reading, there are a range of ways in which parents and guardians can help to support their child with developing their English skills.  Students cannot take the texts into the Literature exam at GCSE, so unless they know a range of relevant quotations from their two set texts, they are not going to succeed.  Teachers will incorporate effective revision strategies into their teaching, but we are always grateful for the support offered at home to reinforce these techniques.  Look out for A3 pieces of paper dotted around their bedrooms with ‘Mind-maps’ of their texts! If they’re not there – quiz them and ask why not?

Some other techniques that might help students when preparing revision materials are:

  • Using images (not works of art, just simple sketches) to connect key quotations together.  Such images can really help some students to remember content;
  • Using colour – this will often help students to remember different concepts as well as the different sections in the exam;
  • A different mind map for themes and characters;
  • Identifying and recording a wide range of short quotations from the text – they are easier to remember and help to offer a better coverage of the text than longer quotations;
  • Making sure that your child has read the novel, poems and the plays (multiple times if possible) to help develop their familiarity with the texts;
  • Buying a study guide and asking your child the questions for each section to check their understanding of the main plot and characters.  Study guides can be purchased via our English department for a reduced price;
  • Reading the set texts yourself to help show empathy and an understanding of the learning processes involved!

Useful websites for revision:

Extra-curricular opportunities

A diverse range of opportunities to enhance the understanding and of set texts will be offered throughout all key stages. From museum visits and theatre trips to watch live performances of texts studied (where possible), will be planned to support and boost students’ knowledge and interpretation. Based in the West Midlands, we are lucky to be near a wealth of excellent theatres and museums to support our students’ English learning journey.

Extra-curricular experiences can include:

  • Theatre trips to the RSC, Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham Alexandra and Malvern theatres.
  • Cultural visits to the Imperial War Museum, National Memorial Arboretum and Black Country Museum.