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In the Nursery and Reception classes, students are assessed against the early learning outcomes against communication language and literacy. They are given some formal reading and writing teaching through Read Write Inc. and handwriting is addressed through the Pen Pal scheme. Students are encouraged to self-initiate their own learning and opportunities are made in the learning environment to make it rich in language. Books and stories play a vital part in providing a rich literacy experience.

Key Stage One

In Years 1 and 2, there is a more formal structure to the teaching of English. There is an hour of writing every day, which follows the ‘Talk for Writing’ model. Students then have a separate hour of the Read Write Inc. programme. Phonics play a large part in the education and students are assessed in a phonic screening test in year one. When students finish the Read Write Inc. programme, they progress to a Literacy and Language scheme. Spelling and handwriting are taught as separate programmes and there is also a SPAG (spelling and grammar) meeting outside of the reading hour. This is a 15 minute basic grammar lesson every day. Students are assessed in Year 2 (SATs) in reading, writing and grammar. Opportunities are made by the Academy to enrich writing, by giving students a variety of experiences to write about.

Key Stage Two

In Years 3-6, students have usually finished the Read Write Inc. programme and progress to the Literacy and Language scheme. This is a two hour lesson, every day, of reading and writing. Spelling, handwriting and SPAG are also taught. Students are assessed at the end of Year 6 (SATs), where they hope to meet the expected standard. They take a reading comprehension paper, a grammar and spelling paper and writing is assessed over a period of time. Opportunities are made by the Academy to enrich writing, by giving students a variety of experiences to write about.


English at Merchants’ Academy curriculum intent

The English Curriculum at Merchants Academy is designed to inspire, challenge and engage our students.

We believe that we have a duty to close the vocabulary gap, improve oracy and offer students the cultural capital they need as well as providing them with the skills to be able to apply their knowledge to a range of situations.  We want our students to be prepared for the rigours of GCSEs and further study, but we also believe that our students deserve the opportunity to  be exposed to a wide range of modern and literary heritage texts, exploring the human condition and giving them the confidence to appreciate and explore literature with enthusiasm and to form and voice their own views on an ever changing world, finding self-belief and aspiration through their studies.

KS3 texts have been chosen to offer challenge, coverage of a broad range of periods of Literature and a range of human and social issues, building on the themes and issues explored at KS2 and preparing our students for KS4 and 5. The texts chosen tackle many of the issues raised in the GCSE and A-Level texts, such as: social justice and inequality, jealousy, revenge, friendship and loneliness, the supernatural, societal expectation, tyranny, violence, redemption and loss among many others.

We will develop students’ understanding of the human condition thematically as well as chronologically. In Year 7, we look at classical story-telling as the foundations for modern literature, exploring the concepts of heroes and villains and tying in with History’s exploration of classical civilization. We go onto look at dystopian society, considering heroism and villainy from a more modern perspective in The Hunger Games.  We also consider satire of heroism and villainy through Shakespeare.

In Year 8 we consider a society where science is revolting against religion, exploring challenges to morality and the development of the ideas of humanism, psychology and the supernatural as well as social issues such as women’s rights and inequality, through the study of 19th Century Literature, preparing students for KS4, KS5 and beyond.  We build on Victorian questions about societal control, violence and manipulation with a more modern exploration of authoritarianism and rebellion in Animal Farm.  From there we explore societal expectation, control and rebellion whilst building knowledge of Shakespeare’s works through the study of Romeo and Juliet.

In Year 9 we look at heroism, patriotism and subversion through the Literature of War (again tying in with History), continuing to look at how society is organized through Of Mice and Men and finally studying morality, linking back to Greek Tragedy from Year 7, through A View from the Bridge.

We interleave reading, writing and oracy through Fortnightly Big Writes, fortnightly Accelerated Reader lessons and regular opportunities for Speaking and Listening, to producing learners who are thoughtful, critical, well-read and who have the confidence and articulacy to express themselves in any situation.

Our curriculum, as well as our delivery of it, is rooted in cognitive science.  Research regarding interleaving, retrieval practice, the ways in which we decode and comprehend the written word, the forgetting curve, cognitive load and working memory are all fundamental to the ways in which we have designed and the way in which we deliver the curriculum at Key Stages 3, 4 and 5, ensuring that pupils from all backgrounds are able to succeed.  

Sixth Form

Course Title: English Literature
Exam Board: Eduqas
Qualification: A Level

About the course

The WJEC Eduqas A level in English literature encourages learners to develop their interest in and enjoyment of literature and literary studies as they:

  • read widely and independently both set texts and others that they have selected
  • for themselves
  • engage critically and creatively with a substantial body of texts and ways of
  • responding to them
  • develop and effectively apply their knowledge of literary analysis and evaluation
  • explore the contexts of the texts they are reading and others’ interpretations of
  • undertake independent and sustained studies to deepen their appreciation and
  • understanding of English literature, including its changing traditions.

This specification offers three components in discrete genres of study: poetry, drama and prose to allow learners to focus on the conventions and traditions of each genre in turn. A further component offers unseen prose and poetry to allow learners to focus separately on applying the skills of literary analysis acquired during the course as a whole.

Component 1:  Poetry

Section A: Poetry pre-1900 (open-book, clean copy)

One two-part question based on the reading of one pre-1900 poetry text from a prescribed list

Section B: Poetry post-1900 (open-book, clean copy)

One question from a choice of two based on the reading of two post-1900 poetry texts from a prescribed list

Contribution to final grade: 30%

How it is assessed: 2 hour written exam

Component 2:  Drama

Overview of content

Section A: Shakespeare (closed-book)

One two-part question based on the reading of one Shakespeare play from a prescribed list

Section B: Drama (closed-book) One question from a choice of two based on the reading of a pair of plays: one pre-1900 and one post-1900, from a prescribed list.

Contribution to final grade: 30%

How it is assessed: 2 hour written exam

Component 3:  Unseen texts

Section A: Unseen prose

One question from a choice of two, analysing an unseen passage of prose, taken from one of two prescribed periods for study

Section B: Unseen poetry

One question from a choice of two, analysing an unseen poem or poetry extract

Contribution to final grade: 20%

How it is assessed: 2 hour written exam

Component 4:  Prose Study

Overview of content:

One 2500-3500 word assignment based on the reading of two prose texts from different periods, one pre-2000 and one post- 2000, nominated by the Academy .

Contribution to final grade: 20%

How it is assessed: Coursework, internally assessed and externally moderated

For further information: