Key Stage 2 English

Subject Leader Key Stage 2: Mrs V. Ward | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent read them more fairy tales.

Albert Einstein

Research shows that people with good literacy skills are more likely to have higher self-esteem, better health, better jobs and higher wages than those with poor literacy skills. They are more able to take advantage of the opportunities that life may offer them.

The National Literacy Trust, 2015

Year 6

We all acknowledge that literacy is a fundamental skill for life. Literacy develops children’s ability to listen, speak, read and write for a multitude of purposes. We encourage our pupils to express themselves imaginatively and creatively through the use of poetry, prose, media and drama whilst underpinning this with an understanding of language structure and technical skills. We want our children to enjoy lessons. We recognise that literacy plays a central role in learning - not only during English lessons, but across the entire curriculum; we also recognise that not all children find these skills simple and, for these, we have to reach out and bridge the gap. It is therefore crucial that our children receive the best possible grounding in these skills to enable them to develop and transfer their expertise into other subject areas.

On arrival into Year 6, pupils are placed into sets based on their reading and writing abilities. This means that pupils’ needs are more specifically catered for in smaller class sizes ranging from around 12 to 24 children per group. Fortunately, we enjoy excellent liaison with our first schools; therefore, we are ideally placed to understand our children’s strengths and weaknesses even before they arrive on the first of their transition visits at the end of Year 5. In fact, the children from our feeder schools receive their English exercise books to be used in the final term of Year 5 in order to give Year 6 teachers an insight into each pupil’s skills prior to arrival at Scissett Middle School.

Our foundation groups are deliberately kept small in order to provide the individual attention that enables less confident children to flourish. These groups are always supported by one of our Educational Teaching Assistants (ETA) offering a high pupil to adult ratio. Indeed, we aim to place an ETA in each of our English sets as we understand that progress in literacy is crucial to accessing the curriculum.

For those children who are confident in this subject, we extend them further. These pupils are expected to work more independently, and are also given access to aspects of the KS3 curriculum in the way of specialist teaching. We are fortunate in that we are able to draw upon the expertise of specialised English teachers with whom we work collaboratively to enable more able pupils to broaden and deepen their knowledge of the subject.

As a creative department, we are fortunate that we can offer a wealth of diverse enrichment activities. Over the last few years, these have included visits to the Kirklees Light Railway, the cinema, outward bound centres, the Lowry Centre, the Imperial War Museum, Shakespeare4kidz theatre and many more to provide stimuli for writing and discussion. We have also welcomed visiting authors and poets into school as well as theatre companies and drama workshops, taken part in quizzes and attended the Ilkley Literary Festival.

As of September 2015, pupils in Year 6 have 15 English lessons over a fortnightly period including a weekly lesson based in the Learning Resource Centre. As the curriculum for pupils in Year 6 is set to change at this point, children will be transferring to a revised scheme of work. The changes will be introduced throughout the year and the Government emphasis on excellence and ability in core skills will be implemented.

The Year 6 scheme of work covers eight basic themes:

  • Autobiography and Biography
  • Poetry
  • Journalism
  • Classic Fiction
  • Argument
  • Explanation and Instruction
  • Narrative
  • Formal Language and Recount

Each class will study at least one book during their time in Year 6 and most teachers choose to base work around two or more books.

Throughout the year, many other examples of project work are undertaken to support and enhance the learning of various groups of pupils i.e. Pupil Premium, Gifted and Talented, SEN, etc. Our aim is that pupils enjoy and participate in lessons, progress and develop their understanding and are confident and competent communicators. To have good literacy skills is to have one of the tools for life and our aim is to not only equip children with the basic equipment, but to provide them with the desire to build their own toolkit.

Key Stage 3 English

Subject Leader Key Stage 3: Mrs T. Mann | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Words are of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”

Rudyard Kipling

At Scissett Middle School we aim to develop the language competence of all pupils through the four key strands which constitute literacy: reading, writing, speaking and listening.

In Key Stage Three, all pupils have four lessons of English, In Key Stage Three, all pupils have four lessons of English and these focus on teaching and learning at different stages. All lessons are taught by subject specialists who embrace a wide range of teaching techniques.


In accordance with changes to the National Curriculum, pupils will be encouraged to read increasingly challenging material across a wide range of fiction and non-fiction. Their progress will be charted through the use of Accelerated Reader, software specifically designed to monitor and assess reading practice. In addition, pupils will engage in a range of reading activities designed to encourage them to read independently. The range of literary events in the LRC will actively support this aim by giving pupils the opportunity to meet and work with contemporary authors.


  • Pupils will be taught to write accurately, fluently and at length for a wide range of purposes and audiences.
  • Pupils will edit and proof-read their writing, reflecting the audience and purpose for which it was intended.
  • Particular attention will be paid to grammar, punctuation and spelling. Pupils will consolidate, extend and apply what they have been taught in Key Stage Two.

Speaking and Listening

Pupils will be taught to:

  • Speak confidently and effectively using Standard English.
  • Perform play scripts and poetry for a real audience.
  • Participate in debates and discussions responding to the views of others.
  • Deliver short speeches and presentations.

In Year Seven, pupils are placed in broad ability groups on the basis of their performance in the Key Stage Two SAT in English, coupled with their teacher’s assessment. This arrangement enables more able pupils to work alongside peers who are performing at a similar level, whilst allowing less able pupils to be taught in smaller classes with additional adult support.

Units of Work Studied by Pupils in Year 7

The Contemporary Novel:

Pupils will study the following work of fiction:

  • ‘Stone Cold’ by Robert Swindells

Pupils will:

  • Engage in a wide range of reading skills and will be encouraged to infer and deduce meaning, analyse the language and layout of texts and explore the writer’s purpose and the wider cultural and historical context of the novel.
  • Undertake a number of writing tasks which relate to theme, plot and character.
  • Participate in a wide range of speaking and listening activities both with a partner and in a group.

Exploring Non Fiction

Pupils will:

  • Explore a range of non fiction texts: film flyers, holiday advertisements and newspapers.
  • Examine the structure and organisation of texts and link these to their purpose.
  • Create effective non fiction texts of their own.

Pre 1914 Literature

Pupils will develop an understanding of our literary heritage by exploring poetry from pre 1914. One of the following narrative poems will be studied in depth:

  • The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning
  • The Lady of Shallot by Alfred Lord Tennyson

The World of William Shakespeare

Pupils will study the life of the playwright set in the context of the sixteenth century. Also they will explore the popularity of the theatre across all social classes and how this is reflected in the work of the Bard. One of Shakespeare’s plays will be explored, with the main emphasis being on speaking and listening.

Pupils will be encouraged to work in pairs and small groups to:

  • Develop their understanding of Shakespearean language.
  • Increase self confidence.
  • Act in role.

Contemporary Play

Pupils will study a play written by a contemporary dramatist:

  • Whispers in The Graveyard by Teresa Breslin
  • Kindertransport by Diane Samuels


Throughout the course of the year, specific pieces of work within each strand of the subject: reading, writing, speaking and listening will be assessed in accordance with the school’s assessment policy. At the end of the year, all pupils will take an examination in reading and writing which will be marked and moderated by members of the English Department. Furthermore, pupils will be assessed twice a year by an external moderator. In addition, each pupil will take the Vernon spelling test which will provide a spelling age for each individual and the Accelerated Reader test throughout the course of the year. This information will be shared with pupils and will help to inform planning for each term and for the next academic year.

Units of Work Studied By Pupils in Year 8

Pupils will study one of the following works of fiction:

  • ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck
  • ‘Private Peaceful’ by Michael Morpurgo

Pupils will:

  • Engage in a wide range of reading skills and will be encouraged to infer and deduce meaning, analyse the language and layout of texts and explore the writer’s purpose and the wider cultural and historical context of the novel.
  • Undertake a number of writing tasks which relate to theme, plot and character.
  • Participate in a wide range of speaking and listening activities both with a partner and in a group.

Non Fiction

Pupils will:

Explore a wide range of non fiction texts

Examine the structure and organisation of texts and link these to their purpose, such as:

  • Opinion (television preview)
  • Argument (a political campaign leaflet)
  • Persuasive (holiday advertisement)
  • Inform (webpage)
  • Create non-fiction texts of their own and peer assess their effectiveness.

World Literature

Pupils will be introduced to world literature particularly poetry and prose written by individuals who have had experience of another culture, such as Benjamin Zephaniah, Imtiaz Dharker, Edward Brathwaite, Nissim Ezekiel and Grace Nicholls who draw upon their ethnic ancestry in their work. Using the school’s link with Books Plus, we hope to invite the poet, Donavan Christopher to work with specific pupils to increase their understanding of texts which reflect the influence of another culture.

Pupils will:

  • Explore subject and tone.
  • Analyse language and imagery.
  • Experiment with rhyme and form.


One Shakespeare play will be studied in depth:

  • The Tempest
  • King Richard III
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Pupils will be encouraged to work in pairs and small groups to:

  • Develop their understanding of Shakespearean language and its impact on the audience.
  • Analyse how and why particular characters are constructed.
  • Examine the complexity of plot.
  • Assume the role of director making decisions about performance and staging, allowing for different interpretations of specific scenes.

Contemporary Play

Pupils will study a play written by a contemporary dramatist:

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time based on the novel by Mark Haddon

Pupils will:

  • Understand how the work of dramatists is communicated effectively through performance.
  • Study setting, plot and characterisation and the effects of these.
  • Rehearse and perform excerpts in order to practise voice projection, intonation and action.


In recent years Drama specialist, Gerry Nowicki has visited school while KS3 pupils have been studying the work of William Shakespeare. Each year this has proved to be an exciting opportunity for pupils to dramatise key scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. The chance to work alongside a professional director definitely develops the pupils’ understanding of Shakespearean language, their self-confidence and ultimately their ability to act in role.

Gifted and Talented Workshop

For the last three years the author, Martyn Bedford has been invited in to school to lead two writing workshops for 40 gifted and talented pupils in Year 8. He inspired pupils to develop interesting characters and plots by using a range of unusual objects. The writing process began on the day of the event but pupils were then given three weeks to complete and polish their entries. The competition was judged in school but the six winning entries were then sent to the author who wrote a detailed critique of each. Each year Martyn Bedford has been very impressed by the standard of writing and the huge amount of effort demonstrated by pupils.

For an extensive summary of all literary events, both past and present, see the Learning Resource Centre Page.


The Book Club is open to pupils in Year 7 and 8. Members meet every Tuesday in Room 3 to explore new works of fiction and discuss character and plot. In the summer months, members of the Book Club are particularly busy reading books on the Carnegie shortlist. Before the winner is announced, the members visit Shelley College to meet their counterparts and to engage in a range of reading activities.

In addition, Alison Brumwell, a Carnegie judge visits school to provide an insight into the judging process.

British Moral Values in English

At Scissett Middle School we believe that education is a holistic process encompassing the whole child; our inherent ethos is dedicated to making every experience a learning or enriching one.  It is important that our pupils become valuable and fully rounded members of society who treat others with respect and tolerance, regardless of background or belief.

Our aim is for every member of our school to embrace and promote the fundamental human values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance for those of different faiths and beliefs.

We expect all our children to understand the importance of these values and leave our school prepared for life in modern Britain.

Within the English Department, we believe that all we do is driven by cultural values and reflects the ever-changing world in which we live.  As such, we aim to select suitable high-quality literature and read, write and discuss about topics of local, national and global importance that shape our environment.  

Within the English curriculum, we explore these five strands in some of the following ways:


We use discursive and persuasive arguments to debate, discuss and examine the power of words (both written and spoken) and images to influence and change opinion.  For example, children may be asked to write a eulogy for the funeral of Macbeth in order to change opinions from negative to positive sourcing evidence from the text.  Also, the plot of Macbeth generates discussion on the allocation of blame and how guilt is perceived and responsibility defined.

The rule of law

Through discussion and examination of selected texts, pupils will gain a greater understanding of the law, past and present.  Pupils may examine arguments for and against capital punishment or animal rights issues and compare and contrast laws that differ between countries.  Additionally, literature may be studied that gives rise to similar discussion, for example, should the key character, George from the novel Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, be imprisoned for the shooting of Lennie or could it be considered an act of compassion.  Also, in the book, Once, the overarching theme of the book is the persecution of the Jews during the Holocaust, which questions the rule of law within wartime.

Individual liberty

Students are encouraged to explore and discuss texts which examine individual liberty and the right to hold personal beliefs and opinions.  For instance, war poetry is studied in depth and the civil liberties of those involved in conflicts around the world, past and present, are also explored.  Another example is the use of the book Once, by Morris Gleitzman, which has an overarching theme of the Holocaust, where the treatment of the Jewish people is discussed.

Mutual respect

Pupils are taught to respect the cultures and beliefs of others through the media of poetry, narrative, journalism and other text types.  They are taught and encouraged to think and write with empathy and recognise that behaviour has its consequences.  It is crucial, also, in speaking and listening exercises that children learn to listen and respond appropriately and respectfully and expect this in return.

Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs

Tolerance is promoted by the varied text types selected.  Acceptance of others is fundamental to being able to empathise, which is a key skill of English.  Poetry from other cultures examines a number of issues of tolerance and Holocaust writings also generate discussion on the importance of being tolerant.  Historical themes, such as witchcraft and slavery, are also examined and the treatment of significant historical figures, such as Nelson Mandela, may be studied as biography.

‘It is impossible to teach English without constant reference, implicit or explicit, to the values embedded in language and literary culture.  NATE (National Association for the Teaching of English) believes that the subject should be seen not merely in instrumental terms but as a cultural study in which questions of values are constantly brought into focus for open discussion by reference, both to the enduring texts of literature, and to the emerging texts of contemporary media.’

Tom Rank, for NATE, 4 February 2015