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Head of Department: Mrs V Rhead

Teachers of English: Mrs V Rhead and Mr D Harvey


The English Department at Finch Woods Academy delivers the teaching of both English Language and Literature throughout Key Stages 3 and 4. At Key Stage 4, a variety of pathways are available to enable pupils to attain qualifications at a level appropriate to them and their next level of intended study.


We believe that being literate is key to becoming a successful adult. No matter what a pupil’s ability is in English, we strive to ensure that they leave us competent in reading, writing, speaking and listening.

English and literacy forms the basis of communication and is central to success across a range of other subjects. Within English lessons, pupils will learn transferable skills that will benefit them in other lessons and in their lives outside school.

To our delight, many exceed this basic intent and go on to develop a love for aspects of English, enjoying literature, drama, and media as part of their time with us. Final results in the subject are often higher than pupils expect them to be as we strive to ensure that all pupils are appropriately matched to the right academic pathway in Key Stage 4.

English as part of the curriculum

Regardless of interest level or ability, all pupils study English, in line with government expectations. The National Curriculum dictates that the study of topics within the subject is challenging and varied. In their time with us, pupils will study modern prose and drama texts; pre-twentieth century prose and drama texts; a range of poetry from different times and traditions; creative and transactional writing; drama and media.

Where possible, pupils are able to have choice in what is studied but we follow the expectations of the National Curriculum to ensure that, when they leave us, pupils have had an equitable experience to those of their peers.

Programme of study

Pupils have English lessons throughout the week and also access additional reading time. Pupils who require it are given additional support time to access additional literacy support with an English teacher or other appropriately trained member of staff.


Key Stage 3:

At Key Stage 3, pupils study a range of texts for both literature and language. They will be introduced to texts from different periods in history through to modern day, and study well known authors, poets, and playwrights from William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens to contemporary authors such as Willy Russell and Carol Ann Duffy.

Pupils will become competent writers themselves, writing a range of both fiction and non-fiction texts, and also with the opportunity to write for the school newsletter and website.

Pupils will build their skills throughout years 7 – 9 to prepare them for their studies at Key Stage 4. It is hoped, during these three years of study, that pupils will gain secure foundations in both language and literature and develop their own communication skills both orally and on paper.

To support their ongoing literacy development, pupils will have access to a range of pledge activities such as working on a radio station, writing for the school newsletter, participating in the Into Film Festival and visiting a local theatre or cultural event. These Pledge Activities can be enjoyed for what they are: English and literacy in the real world, or as an extension to their academic studies.


Key Stage 4:

All pupils study English through to Key Stage 4. At the end of year 9, the pathway that they follow is discussed within the English department to consider the best route forward for each individual. Patents and pupils are involved in this process (which is ongoing through to the end of year 10) to ensure that pathways chosen are in line with ability, interest, and post 16 study intentions. Pupils are able to change pathways if required, but we endeavour to address issues early to secure the best outcomes.


At Key Stage 4, pupils have 4 different pathways available to them:

  1. Functional Skills pathway only: All pupils will have the option to complete their functional skills exams at levels1 and 2 in both reading and writing. Most pupils do this in co-ordination with another qualification for English. Occasionally, pupils will follow this route alone. Functional Skills is a route to further study (usually at level 2) at local colleges.


  1. 9-1 iGCSE English pathway: This route is an effective route of study for pupils who demonstrate good working habits over the course, but struggle with exams. It is a GCSE qualification that is recognised by many local, National and International colleges as a route to further study at level 2 and level 3 in place of the traditional GCSE route. It has the benefit of having a coursework component and one single exam. For many pupils, coursework is a positive way to secure marks before the exam and reduce the pressure of revising for a number of exams. The grades gained on this pathway are often very positive. However, some colleges will not accept this qualification as a route to A levels.


  1. 9-1 GCSE English language pathway: This pathway works well for pupils who are confident in exam conditions or who want to follow GCSE English to A level. Pupils will need to work hard over the two years to develop both their English ability and exam skills as there is no coursework component and the assessment is decided fully on exam performance at the end of year 11.


  1. 9-1 GCSE English language and literature pathway: This pathway works well for pupils who are confident in exam conditions or who want to follow GCSE English language or literature to further study. Pupils will need to work hard over the two years to develop both their English ability and exam skills as there is no coursework component and the assessment is decided fully on exam performance at the end of year 11. As there are 2 qualifications gained at the end, this pathway is reserved for our most able pupils and those with a desire to follow English to A level.


The aims of the KS4 English course are to:

  • Demonstrate functional competency with both reading and writing
  • Experience speaking and listening in a range of formal and informal situations
  • Develop language analysis skills, considering word meaning, comprehension, inference, tone, and structure
  • Gain qualification(s) that will support the next stage of employment and training
  • Gain skills for life


Qualifications Available:

Qualification: Functional Skills Reading and Writing

Level: Available at level 1 and level 2

Exam board: OCR


Qualification: iGCSE English

Level: GCSE (A* - G)

Exam board: Cambridge International Examination Board


Qualification: GCSE English Language

Level: GCSE (9-1)

Exam board: AQA


Qualification: GCSE English Literature

Level: GCSE (9-1)

Exam board: Edexcel

Curriculum Overview

For a more detailed look at what we aim to cover within the English Curriculum this year:

 English Curriculum


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