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Head of English: Mrs Powell


"Our core English curriculum has a focus on developing students’ reading, writing and oral communication skills. We enthuse and excite students with a wide range of British and global literature. Reading, imaginative writing and theatre invite students to experience worlds beyond their own personal experience. Such enriching opportunities develop our students into emotionally respectful, resilient and responsible young people who are fully prepared for their life-long journey of learning and understanding."

JSTC English Department Staff


We are a strong, vibrant, successful department of nine English teachers; five full-time and four part-time. In addition to the established team, we enjoy investing our time in training new members to the profession. If you would like to train as an English teacher, please refer to the training area of this website (here).



English teaching is contained within its own block. This is comprised of six classrooms (EN1-6) all with interactive whiteboards and computers for student use.


JSTC Floorplan showing full school layout

Departmental Aims


The English department aims to ensure that all students, regardless of their background and prior attainment, make rapid progress through enjoyable and enriching learning experiences. We aim to empower students to be independent, resilient and creative learners who can articulate complex emotional and cognitive responses.

English Language

In Years 7 and 8, students are introduced to a range of fiction, drama, non-fiction and media texts which they explore in ways which are both engaging and challenging. The curriculum has been designed to build students' skills in areas which will be of great value to them in the future.


Students are taught reading, writing and spoken language skills throughout Key Stage 3. These skills link closely with the skills (AOs – Assessment Objectives) required for GCSE. Our English curriculum is designed to prepare students effectively for this next level through an appropriate knowledge and skills progression route. In reading assessments, students are assessed on the progressively more difficult skills of comprehension, inference, interpretation, analysis, synthesis, comparison and evaluation. Students will also learn to write effectively for a range of audiences and purposes and in a range of forms


The Importance of Reading


Reading is at the heart of our rich English curriculum and school curriculum. Every student is involved in our Whole School Reading Project in which they follow an independent course of study on their chosen book. Students are encouraged to read widely and are supported by their teachers to choose books which they will not only love but will offer challenge and help them to progress in their reading ability. Students are strongly encouraged to read at the beginning of lessons in every subject area. We expect students to bring their own reading book, every day. We also expect students to be reading every night at home, either independently or enjoying books with the family.


Each Year 7 student is gifted a book of their choice at Christmas, by the English department as part our annual Book Buzz scheme (an inspiring Book Trust initiative).


KS3 students also regularly support the charity Readathon, which cares for children in hospital, through sponsored reading challenges.


The English department’s Reading Buddies programme is a successful and fun, well-established scheme to support Year 7 students. Each week, in the autumn and spring terms, students meet with their Year 9 Reading Buddy who will read with them and help them to improve their reading skills through sharing and discussing books. The Year 9 students are all committed to this scheme and are trained to be effective mentors to our younger students. This is a compulsory intervention for students identified as below secondary ready in reading on entry to JSTC. We work with families in our community to ensure no student is left behind.


Book Buzz:



Throughout years,9,10,11, students are taught both English Language and English Literature in preparation for two qualifications of equal status.


English Language (Edexcel 1ENO)


Students in Year 9, 10 and 11 prepare for their English Language GCSE. The English Language curriculum involves preparation for two examination papers. It includes the study of both fiction and non-fiction texts, with an emphasis on being able to write in an accurate and critical style. Technical accuracy (spelling, punctuation and grammar) is worth 20% of the overall Language GCSE, for all examination boards; therefore, we teach and revisit these important literacy skills explicitly throughout Years 7 to 11. Students will practise reading and writing a variety of genres and build on the knowledge and skills learned in Key Stage 3.


For GCSE English Language, students also complete a separate compulsory unit: Spoken Language Endorsement. While this independent, spoken presentation does not contribute towards a student's overall grade, the mark (Pass/Merit/Distinction) will be recorded on their exam certificate and is valued by colleges and employers as an indication of the standard of social and verbal communication achieved. An audio-visual recording of each student’s presentation is required for internal and external moderation purposes.


English Literature (Edexcel 1ETO)


The English Literature GCSE encompasses the study of a nineteenth century novel, a play by Shakespeare, an anthology of poetry, and a modern text (a play and/or novel*). Students will learn how to write analytically and to evaluate a range of texts, focussing particularly on detailed language analysis. All Literature examinations are closed book.

All students in Year 10 and 11 will study the same core Literature texts; we feel this provides valuable continuity, stability and support for the students at a time of great challenge; however, we recognise that some more able and talented students require additional stretch and enrichment opportunities.*


Core texts:


  • Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare)
  • An Inspector Calls (J.B. Priestley)
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (R.L. Stevenson)
  • Edexcel Anthology of poetry – Conflict theme  - (a variety of poets from different time periods)


Students will learn how to closely analyse passages of text. They will also learn how to write in a formal, critical style to explore context in relation to plot, settings, characters, and themes. Students develop skills of comparison when studying poetry, including how to compare unseen texts.


Edexcel Course Structure


Functional Skills (Edexcel)


Students who are unlikely to achieve a grade 4 in GCSE English Language are entered for an appropriate Functional Skills (FS) qualifications in English. Students will continue to work towards GCSE English Language. Students in the same teaching group may follow different paths. Students can sit assessments at any time of the year; they sit them when they are ready. Students may work towards more than one Functional Skills qualification. The student’s teacher will advise on the FS level and timescales because the programme is a personalised one.


'Functional Skills courses equip learners with the practical skills needed to live, learn and work successfully and the ability to apply these skills effectively to a range of purposes in the workplace and in other real-life situations. There are paper-based and on-screen assessment options…’ (Pearson Edexcel).


Functional Skills are a mandatory part of all apprenticeship frameworks in England.


More Able and Talented Students in English


*Students in Sets S, 1 and 2 in Year 9 may study an additional examination text (a modern novel and play) to present them with both additional reading challenge, provide enrichment opportunity and to widen their choice of examination questions in Year 11.


Students with the potential to reach grades 7-9 in English Language and English Literature are grouped into a ‘Super-Set’ (Set S) at the beginning of Year 9. Typically, this set contains approximately 12-15 students per cohort. The ‘S’ set is a feature of Year 9, 10 and 11.


Recommended Websites to Support Learning in English

Advice on reading to children and getting children to read; book lists; book finder etc. Book Trust
Great for families to create a book culture at home
Blogs, reviews, information about Book Buzz and annual choices etc. Book Trust / Book Buzz
Watch out for the BookBuzz launch in October
Recommended reads, blogs, author interviews, activities, games, writing competitions and prize draws etc. Young Writers
Watch out for the next competition launch in schoo
Information about the charity ‘Readathon’ and why reading matters; blogs and news for reading inspiration. Readathon
Watch out for the next school launch
An engaging and inspirational English teacher, who creates educational videos to support GCSE and A-Level English studies. YouTube
Francis Gilbert
Search for Mr Bruff in YouTube and select the video(s) you wish to view.
Free to access.
A reading of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in chapters by parent, author and former English teacher, Dr Francis Gilbert. YouTube
Mr Bruff
Search Francis Gilbert in YouTube.
Free to access.
Online games, activities and downloadable worksheets to improve literacy and numeracy for adults and young people. BBC Bitesize Skill wise
Free to access.
New look and updated resource. High quality online videos, texts, glossaries, revision activities and tests. BBC Bitesize KS3 and GCSE
Free to access.
Create a study plan; past papers; revision mind-maps, flashcards, quizzes, presentations and notes to download in pdf or Word format. Get Revising
Register online for free. Please read T&Cs
Listen to podcasts on your Android or Apple devices; refer to facts, keywords, dates, diagrams on screen; complete and tests homework online with instant feedback. GCSE Pod
Login required from school or individual subscription Please read T&Cs.
Revision platform with ‘…the best GIFs and memes on the internet so revision makes you laugh instead of stressed.’ Seneca Learning
Login required from school or individual subscription. Please read T&Cs
Learn about the nineteenth century Literature text through engaging film and discussion. Available to support revision on all student devices. Edisodes
Login required from school or individual subscription Please read T&Cs.
Audio tutorials using experts, actors, sound effects and music to enhance revision of Edexcel English Language and Literature. Accessible at anytime and on all devices. Audiopi
Login required from school or individual subscription. Please read T&Cs
Free literature downloadable pdf guides to all prescribed examination texts containing plot summaries, themes, quotations, symbols, author biographies and historical context information. Lit Charts
Register online for free. Please read T&Cs.
Thousands of e-books, poems, study guides, articles, interviews, short stories, plays, and author interviews - all of which are absolutely free. Bibliomania
Access is free
Online platform offering literacy instruction, practice and feedback. Some Americanisms but a valuable alternative to printed workbooks. No Red Ink
Sign up for free. A US site. Please read T&Cs.

Recommended Texts to Support Learning in English


The English department recommends each student purchases one copy of each of the core Literature texts. Students are then able to highlight and annotate the text to aid their learning. All English examinations are ‘closed book’: texts are not allowed in the examinations.


Guidance on the recommended edition will be issued each year via a letter home.

Recommended Revision Guides to Support Learning in English


Every year the English department offers KS4 students the opportunity to purchase reduced price revision guides for their Edexcel courses: GCSE English Literature, GCSE English Language and Functional Skills. Please check with us before buying in store or ordering online. Students do not need to purchase all these recommendations; they can select the guides and materials that suit their preferred method of revision or ones that complement their choice of online resources.

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