Strategic English Lead | Mr J O'Brien |

Ready, Set, and Challenge…

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Why do we teach English?

In English lessons at KMS, we use high-quality literature in order to develop written and verbal communication, skills and knowledge which will inspire pupils to become empathetic, tolerant and respectful.  As young people, they will be encouraged to express themselves confidently, which will enable them to respond, and adapt, to an ever-changing society.


At Kirkburton Middle School we are committed to ensuring  that every individual pupil can develop his / her ability to  use English in speaking and listening, reading and writing effectively in all situations, with an understanding and appreciation of the world, and their role in it through the study of literature.

Our aim is to promote the development of literacy, based on the pleasures and demands of reading, writing, speaking and listening.  We believe that the study of literature within cultural and historical contexts challenges pupils to articulate and defend ideas, to appreciate ideas different from their own, and to respect diversity.  Pupils are encouraged, through their own writing, to develop independent thinking skills in a variety of situations and for a variety of purposes and audiences.

Both aspects of language, the personal and the social, contribute to giving young people an understanding of and a power over their lives. Language empowers!

Thus we aim to enable every individual pupil with the skills and confidence to use and enjoy English in all its infinite variety and richness within the classroom and beyond.

We aim for our pupils to:

  • Read and appreciate works from their literary heritage  such as Shakespeare, Coleridge and Lewis Carroll
  • Learn about other cultures, faiths and traditions through the study of seminal world literature
  • Use literature as a tool to learn how to handle different situations, learn more about themselves and the world they live in
  • Explore issues pertinent to their lives and the modern world through contemporary literature
  • Have a variety of opportunities to develop their spoken language to suit a variety of contexts and audiences
  • Understand the importance of accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar
  • Write in a variety of styles such as: letters (formal and informal), narrative and descriptive, reviews, autobiographical, articles, persuasive

In Year 6 pupils receive seven literacy / English lessons, whilst in KS3 four hours per week is dedicated to English.  Both Drama and Media are incorporated into the English Scheme of Work.  All pupils are taught by English specialists in groups set by ability and supported by teachers who provide intervention at all levels when the need arises.

Homework in English is designed to extend and develop the learning in the classroom. The tasks set are suited to a range of learning styles, to ensure that all pupils are given the opportunity to capitalise on their individual skills and abilities. Examples of homework may include: extended writing activities; reading and comprehension; creating an  artistic representation of a poem

A strong reading culture exists within the school environment and all staff recognise the importance of literacy across the curriculum.

Curriculum Overview

Lessons have been carefully crafted and planned to ensure that pupils are inspired and engaged by their learning. We use a vast array of strategies to motivate the pupils and to build a broad and exciting learning experience. Over the course of three years pupils will become journalists, detectives, advertisers, actors, poets, presenters and even X factor judges as they develop their speaking and listening skills alongside their reading and writing.

Pupils will be given many opportunities to revisit prior knowledge and skills aquired throughout each unit.

Year 6

Autumn Term

Harry Potter Unit
Developing reading skills (inference, retrieval etc.) by exploring characterisation, themes and plot structure. Pupils produce a diary entry for the character of Harry Potter.

Celebration Unit
Pupils develop their skills in writing for a range of purposes and audiences within this unit. Pupils will plan and write three pieces of writing; a narrative based on Halloween; a descriptive piece based on Bonfire Night and a Review of a short animated production, which links to Christmas.

Spring Term

Journalism and Letter Writing in Role
Media based unit around the sinking of the Titanic. Pupils develop empathy skills in order to produce a letter from a passenger and look in detail at the structure and formality of a newspaper report to produce their own about the sinking of the Titanic. 

Kick (Novel)
Further development of key reading skills – vocabulary, inference, retrieval, prediction, explanation and sequencing/summary. Key spelling, punctuation and grammar skills are taught through the reading of the novel. Pupils will develop a knowledge of the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Pupils will produce a non-chronological report and a writing piece with the purpose to argue.

Summer Term

Revision (3 weeks)
Reading skills. Spelling, punctuation and grammar practice and consolidation. Filling gaps in skills and knowledge in preparation for SATs assessment. 

Persuasive Letter Writing
Pupils will revisit the skill of being able to select appropriate grammar and vocabulary structures that reflect what a type of writing requires. 

Stories from Other Cultures
Read stories from other cultures in order to create settings, characters and plot for their own narrative. Pupils will build on prior knowledge of key reading skills to focus on developing these skills into PEE paragraphs in preparation for transition to Key Stage 3.

Year 7

Autumn Term

Pupils will acquire new knowledge of how to track a specific character throughout the novel and learn the knowledge of what a theme is. Pupils will build their knowledge of building PEE paragraphs, but these will be developed further by building the knowledge of how to zoom in on language techniques and analyse further. The final assessed piece is a reading assessment about a character in the novel.

Gothic Horror
Pupils will build on the skill of writing in a clear, controlled and effective way. Pupils will learn the skill of changing their tone to achieve type, audience and purpose (TAP). Pupils will recap their knowledge of the key elements of narrative writing, this will then be developed further by exploring the specific genre of gothic horror. The final written piece is a gothic horror narrative.

Spring Term

Natural World Poetry
Pupils will study a range of poetry that all encompass the theme of our natural world. Pupils will acquire new knowledge in how to annotate a poem and develop strategies that will help them make 'sense' of a poem. Pupils will focus on the writer’s choice of language and structure within each poem that they look at.

World of Persuasion
Pupils will build on the skill of writing in a clear, controlled and effective way and learn how to change their tone in order to achieve type, audience and purpose (TAP). Pupils will develop their skills in organising their ideas and sentences. Pupils will acquire new knowledge in how to plan a letter and the layout of a speech. This unit will also have close links to careers; in particular media and marketing. 

Summer Term

A Monster Calls
Pupils will be re-visiting and recap their knowledge of the layout of an informal letter with a particular focus on how to organise paragraphs and use topic sentences. Pupils will build on their knowledge of how to answer an impressions question, focussing specifically on the higher marks that are available, in comparison to SATs. Pupils will build on their knowledge of using word classes to analyse language. The final assessed piece is a series of reading questions about the novel.

Speaking and Listening 
Within this final unit, pupils will build on their speaking and listening skills. They will complete a formal presentation to their English class. 

Year 8

Autumn Term

Of Mice and Men
Pupils will build on previous skills of inference in this unit. They will build on their skills of finding evidence to support their ideas and explaining them. Pupils will learn the new skills of linking to context and making a personal response. Pupils will learn the skill of looking at the writer's use of language. The final assessed piece is a reading paper based on the characters and/or themes of the novel.

Extreme Sports
Pupils will learn the skill of changing their tone to achieve type, audience and purpose (TAP). Pupils will develop their skills in using different and interesting sentences carefully. Pupils will also recap their inference skills and their ability to retrieve information from a text. They will do this by studying several modern and pre-twentieth century texts. The final assessed piece is a reading paper.

Spring Term

Journey’s End and Conflict Poetry
When focusing on the playscript of Journey’s End, pupils will build on their skills of analysing language within different dramatic devices used. This will be the same for poetry, applying their knowledge of the different poetic devices. Pupils will build on the skill of making a personal response, specifically focussing on what the writer may have wanted them to think, feel and imagine.

Twisted Tales
Pupils will increase their knowledge of using figurative language to create imagery, setting, mood and atmosphere. These features will also be built upon in levels of sophistication. Pupils will reinforce their knowledge of using the 5-part structure to plan a strong narrative with a detailed plot.

Growing Up Poetry
Pupils will also study a collection of poems with the theme of ‘Growing Up.’ Pupils will build on their skills of annotating and understanding poetry and analysing the writer’s choice of language and structure.

Summer Term

Woman in Black
Pupils will develop their ability to write in an interesting way, using great ideas.  Pupils will develop their skills in organising their ideas and sentences carefully. Pupils will build new skills of tracking the text for longer mark questions and analysing the writer's use of language as well as learning the new skill of evaluating. The final assessed piece is a reading paper. 

King Lear
Pupils will track characters and their relationships throughout a text, by specifically looking at family relationships within this play. Pupils will build on their prior knowledge of what a theme is and focus on linking it to the Shakespeare play. Pupils will extend their knowledge of 'context' and apply it to the Shakespeare era. Pupils will build on their knowledge of dramatic devices and will develop this further by looking at how Shakespeare crafts these into his own writing. Pupils will demonstrate their understanding of the play by completing a formal speaking and listening assessment.

Promoting British Values

The DfE have recently reinforced the need “to create and enforce a clear and rigorous expectation on all schools to promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.”

Our curriculum contains many areas where these aspects are explored to ensure that we develop our pupils so that they become responsible young people, ready for life in modern democratic Britain.

The English curriculum allows pupils to learn about other cultures, faiths and traditions through key texts from literature that encompass many complex themes that explore the issues of personal, social and cultural identity and will allow the pupils to understand the concepts of tolerance, mutual respect, liberty and democracy.  Lessons actively explore how these themes are presented and how characters embody these values across time and context.  Poetry and stories from other cultures are also examined and these challenge pupils to place themselves and their values inside a much wider global picture.  Non-literary texts and sources such as newspapers, the internet, television, radio, recorded music and voice are all utilised for the personal and collective exploration of the notion of cultural identity and, therefore, of how we understand our place and our identity within society’s multi-faceted cultures.

SMSC in English

Spiritual development in English involves pupils acquiring insights into their own personal existence though literary appreciation and analysis.  Through empathy with characters pupils develop a growing understanding of how ideology contributes to personal identity.  Pupils will be provided with opportunities to extract meaning beyond the literal, consider alternative interpretation and hidden meanings while engaging with ideas in fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama.  Pupils are provided with opportunities to reflect on their own life and the lives of others using diaries, journals, letters, biographies and autobiographies.

Moral development in English involves pupils exploring and analysing texts which enable them to question and reason, extend their ideas and moral and emotional understanding by reflecting on the motivation and behaviour of characters.  They are given opportunities to talk for a range of purposes including exploration and hypothesis, consideration of ideas, argument, debate and persuasion.  In discussion they are encouraged to take different views into account and construct persuasive arguments.

Social development in English involves pupils reading novels and short stories that offer perspectives on society and the community and their impact on the lives of individuals. They are provided with opportunities to read texts that portray issues and events relating to contemporary life or past experience in ways that are interesting and challenging. In taking different roles in group discussions pupils are introduced to ways of negotiating consensus or agreeing to differ. Pupils are provided with opportunities to consider the coinage of new words and the origins of existing words, explore current influences on spoken and written language, examine attitudes to language use, and consider the vocabulary and grammar of Standard English and dialect variations.

Cultural development in English involves texts being selected which encourage pupils to empathise with the feelings and experiences of others in order to develop their understanding of other people’s attitudes, ideas and behaviour. Pupils develop sensitive awareness of, and the ability to respond constructively to, the backgrounds, experiences, concerns, feelings and commitments of others through poetry, imagery, drama, role play, myth and historical narrative.

Examples of Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Education in English include:

  • Pupils being given the opportunity to compare their own culture and community with that which is different
  • Pupils becoming aware of how different societies function and different social structures
  • Pupils addressing issues of discrimination (race/gender/age) within texts
  • Pupils being given the opportunity to develop empathy for characters and understand the feelings and emotions of characters in the text
  • Pupils being encouraged to make reasoned judgements on moral dilemmas that occur in texts
  • Pupils covering intangible concepts such as love, beauty and nature in poetry
  • Pupils thinking through the consequences of actions – e.g. advertising, charitable campaigns or sensationalism in the media

Reading Informing Writing

“One must be an inventor to read well. There is then creative reading as well as creative writing.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

A large emphasis is placed on delivering quality texts to pupils across a variety of different genres, time periods, and purposes. Not only is pupils’ vocabulary and expression enriched and improved through reading a variety of high-level texts, pupils’ own writing is informed by the works of others, therefore also improving the quality of their own writing and enabling them to develop their own writing style. Pupils are therefore both able to recognise and explore the different techniques writers employ for differing effects when reading as well as recreating them in their own writing by the time they have moved through middle school. We have a range of strategies for pupils who require extra support with reading; they have access to intervention group and reading mentors which supports and enriches their general English provision for reading.

Reading for Pleasure

We are a reading-friendly school. Pupils read during enrichment periods, have access to the well-stocked library, read in groups and we work hard to promote reading across all key stages. We promote reading through recommended reads, cass reading books alongside our well-attended book club. This encourages pupils to become increasingly independent and pursue their own interests in reading.

Below are some links to authors’ websites who we have loved working with…

Michael Morpurgo

Roald Dahl

Alan Gibbons

Below are links to authors whose books we love:

John Hegley

Malorie Blackman

Michael Rosen

Jacqueline Wilson

J.K. Rowling

David Almond

Benjamin Zephaniah

John Boyne

Anne Cassidy

Anne Fine

Melvin Burgess

Philip Pullman

Robert Westall

How Parents Can Support Learning

  • Ensure your child has all necessary equipment.

  • Encourage reading for pleasure by being a role model.

  • Listen to your child read and discuss the book.

  • Play word games e.g. Scrabble, Boggle, Bananagrams.

  • Encourage use of a dictionary and thesaurus.

  • Encourage reviewing of written work and re-drafting for improved technical accuracy.

  • Draw your child’s attention to items of interest in newspapers.

  • Encourage your child to examine all texts critically, e.g. leaflets, letters, articles, web pages, etc.

How to help your children enjoy their reading

  • Choose a quiet time - Set aside a quiet time with no distractions. Fifteen to twenty minutes is usually long enough.

  • Make reading enjoyable - Make reading an enjoyable experience. Sit with your child. Read sections, with or to them, or share narrative and character parts.  Try not to pressurise if he or she is reluctant. If your child loses interest then do something else.

  • Maintain the flow - If your child mispronounces a word do not interrupt immediately. Instead allow opportunity for self-correction. It is better to tell a child some unknown words to maintain the flow rather than insisting on trying to build them all up from the sounds of the letters. If your child does try to ‘sound out’ words, encourage the use of letter sounds rather than ‘alphabet names’.

  • Be positive - If your child says something nearly right to start with that is fine. Don’t say ‘No. That’s wrong,’ but ‘Let’s read it together’ and point to the words as you say them. Boost your child’s confidence with constant praise for even the smallest achievement.

  • Success is the key - Parents anxious for a child to progress can mistakenly give a child a book that is too difficult. This can have the opposite effect to the one they are wanting. Remember ‘Nothing succeeds like success’. Until your child has built up his or her confidence, it is better to keep to easier books. Struggling with a book with many unknown words is pointless. Flow is lost, text cannot be understood and children can easily become reluctant readers.

  • Visit the Library - Encourage your child to use both the public and school libraries regularly.

  • Regular practice - Try to read with your child on most school days. ‘Little and often’ is best.

  • Talk about the books - There is more to being a good reader than just being able to read the words accurately. Just as important is being able to understand what has been read. Take opportunity to discuss the unfamiliar vocabulary and inferences that can be drawn from the text.  Always talk to your child about the book; about the pictures, the characters, how they think the story will end and their favourite part. You will then be able to see how well they have understood and you will help them to develop their comprehension skills.  There are useful questions in the pupil planner to help you discuss books.

  • Variety is important - Remember children need to experience a variety of reading materials e.g.: Picture books, hard backs, comics, magazines, poems, and information books.  School will guide your child towards a reading level that is suitable for them to maintain reading progress but the most important factor in book choice is that it interests the reader.

Useful websites (MC Grammar)

What career…?

English and excellent literacy skills are the building blocks to
accessing all careers.  More specifically, qualifications in English
Language and English Literature can be used in the following careers:

  • Journalism
  • Publishing
  • Law
  • Teaching