At KS2, we aim to build on the skills developed at the First Schools and do this through use of transition information and baseline assessment on entry to inform us of the starting point of each child.  Throughout the year, children follow a unitised curriculum, exposing them to increasingly challenging texts which develop reading skills, with particular focus on inference and deduction which underpin the analytical focus on KS3.  The aim of Key Stage 3 English is to consolidate and build on the skills pupils acquire in KS2, whilst preparing students for the demands of GCSE through a varied and inspiring and increasingly challenging curriculum.  The skills and knowledge that are fostered are cumulative, progressive and transferable throughout other subjects, such as analytical thinking, use of a wide vocabulary, effective communication and accuracy and clarity of writing.



Our curriculum encompasses a diverse and rich selection of texts, from both the literary heritage and contemporary literature.  In order to stimulate a passion for English the curriculum is designed around thematic units, linked to key texts and genres.  The main text or genre drives the unit, with wider themes being incorporated to link to other texts, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry.  The range of texts includes whole books, short stories, poems, plays and covers a range of historical genres, historical periods, forms and authors. Pupils are encouraged to read widely, to read for pleasure and develop skills of analytical and critical thinking.  There are multiple opportunities to write for different audiences and purposes and pupils are encouraged to develop the craft of writing through drafting and editing work.



By the end of Key Stage 3, pupils will have the confidence to be fluent and effective communicators in reading, writing and oracy.  They develop an understanding of the importance of social and cultural influences on texts and expand their critical evaluations of texts to explore differing interpretations.  They will have fostered a love of reading and a passion for writing and be young people who understand different requirements of language and employ a rich and varied vocabulary in their written and oral communication.




Curriculum Overview




Baseline tests:

2 weeks

  • Writing assessment: A letter to my 13 year old self
  • Baseline reading
  • SPAG baseline linked to Year 3 and Year 4 objectives

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

3 Weeks

Pupils will watch and read a graphic novel with a focus on developing inference and deduction techniques.

Pupils will plan, draft and edit an extended piece of recount writing inspired by the novel.


1 Week

Pupils will read and discuss how language is used in the poem and identify specific language techniques used.  They will focus on developing inference and deduction techniques.

Novel study: Anglo Saxon Boy by Tony Bradman

8 Weeks

Pupils will read and discuss story, developing inference and deduction when exploring the text.  They will explore the structure and look at characterisation and conventions of the text type.

Pupils will plan, draft and edit a newspaper report using the identified conventions.

SPaG Focus :

  1. Fronted adverbials: words and phrases
  2. Fronted adverbials: clauses
  3. Punctuating direct speech
  4. Direct and indirect speech
  5. Pronouns
  6. Pronouns and ambiguity
  7. Verbs: auxiliary verbs
  8. Verbs: perfect forms
  9. Standard English
  10. Standard English: double negatives


Viking Myths and Sagas

Reading Outcome: increasing their familiarity with a wide range of books, including myths, legends and traditional stories, modern fiction, fiction from our literary heritage, and books from other cultures and traditions Deduce, predict, infer and summarise

Written Outcome: Reflect on the main character from different viewpoints. Retell the story from several different perspectives in narratives, describing settings, characters and atmosphere and integrating dialogue to convey character and advance the action using a wide range of devices to build cohesion within and across paragraphs.


Kennings and Drapas


Thematic Unit: Mythical Monsters and Brilliant Beasts

Pupils will read a variety of fiction and non-fiction text based around ‘Monsters’.  Texts will vary in date and will include extracts from ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley and more modern texts.  There will be a variety of genres included in the texts and pupils will have the opportunity to explore the conventions of different text types and use these in their writing.

Writing opportunities include narrative writing, non-chronological reports, descriptive writing.


SPaG Focus 

1. Determiners
2. Expanded noun phrases
3 and 4. Relative clauses
5. Parenthesis: brackets
6. Parenthesis: commas and dashes
7. Adverbs and possibility
8. Modal verbs and possibility
9. Verbs with suffixes
10. Verbs with prefixes
11 +. Revise and assess



Novel Study: Kensuke’s Kingdom

A reading unit exploring plot development, characterisation and setting.  Pupils will start to explore how writers use language to create effect and how structure is used to enhance meaning in a text.

Descriptive, journalistic, persuasive and analytical writing strands will be built into the work on this unit.

Poetry Unit: – Ballads – 5 weeks

Pupils will read a variety of Ballads and explore this poetic genre.  Inference and deduction are key skills within this unit and pupils will explore the use of language and structure throughout.



A thematic unit centering around the concept of ‘Journeys’, both actual and metaphorical.  A variety of text types and genres will be used within this unit and pupils will be introduced to the idea of the journey through school as preparation for moving into Year 6.

Final assessments


 SPaG Focus 

  1. Commas within sentences
  2. Commas to avoid ambiguity
  3. Linking paragraphs using adverbials
  4. Linking ideas within paragraphs
  5. Standard English: adverbs
  6. Sentences adverbs
  7. Word classes
  8. Possessives
  9. More relative clauses
  10. Conditional sentences



Thematic Unit – Power and Diversity

A unit to extend inference and deduction through media and written texts.  Pupils will explore the use of sound and camera angles in creating meaning and developing characterisation in superhero clips.  Extracts from Harry Potter will help pupils to explore the idea of power in relationships.  The final text is Ozymandias by Shelley, where pupils explore the idea of human power.  All texts focus on the use of language and structure in texts and extend skills from Year 5.

Written strands include summary writing, analytic responses and narrative writing based on the poem.

The Journey by Francesca Sanna

Children will develop their inference and deduction skills through interpreting the illustrations and language in this book. They will consider the impact of war on a family, immigration and refugees. Children will write their own refugee story based on the structure of the book.

Novel study: Wonder by RJ Palacio

Children will analyse the characterisation, themes, language and structure of the novel using the Key Stage 2 question stems. They will explore empathy and how to see situations from multiple perspectives. They will write a range of texts and genres which develop their use of figurative language and grammatical techniques.

SPaG Focus 

  • Subordinate and relative clauses.
  • Active and passive voice.
  • Colons, semi colons, bullet points.
  • Synonyms and antonyms.
  • Standard English and formal and informal vocabulary.
  • Structures of informal speech.
  • Structures of formal writing.
  • The subjunctive.
  • Ellipsis and semi colons between clauses.
  • Colons and dashes between clauses.
  • Test Week
  • Personalised revision



Poetry from our literary heritage – Winter Poetry – 3 weeks

Students read a variety of winter themed poems, including ‘Hard Frost’ by Andrew Young and ‘Winter the Huntsman’ by Osbert Sitwell.  Domain questions are used as a basis for guided reading style activities.  Inference and deduction skills are targeted for this section, with focus on connotations of language.

Developing Reading Skills – 3 weeks

Throughout this term we will use  short stories and extracts to develop reading skills.  These will include The Landlady by Roald Dahl and The Hitchhiker by Anthony Horowitz, extracts from The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, poetry by Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy and Ted Hughes, among others.


Narrative writing unit – 3 weeks

Creative piece in response to A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. We explore the techniques writers use to raise tension in texts and use these techniques to create the opening chapter of a suspense story.


Non-fiction unit: Non-chronological reports – Rainforests

Children will read and identify the features of a range of non-chronological reports. They will use virtual reality to explore rainforests and deforestation before they write and produce which will be presented using technology.


Monsters through literature:

Poetry linked to our literary heritage: Lamia by John Keats

Harry Potter extracts

We will analyse the language and structure of the poem before analysing the way in which a monster can have human qualities. We will explore symbolism and how deceit can be created through characterisation. We will then analyse some Harry Potter extracts and answer the question: can monsters be human?


SPaG focus:

  • Word classes and homonyms
  • Nouns with suffixes
  • Punctuation to avoid ambiguity and punctuation for effect.
  • Personalised revision, using information from test.
  • Changing tense.
  • Varied verb forms.
  • Standard English: confusing words.
  • Layout devices – tables.


Final SATS revision and tests.

Students will continue to write a range of different written responses to complete their writing portfolio, taking into consideration audience, purpose and form alongside register and tone. These will include the following:

    • Writing to explain/argue– persuasive speech based on Greta Thunberg: No one is too small to make a difference
    • Writing to describe– describing a familiar place at two different times.
    • Narrative – using Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Chocolate Cake by Michael Rosen as a stimulus source.
    • Poetry – writing a nonsense poem based on ‘Jabberwocky’ by Lewis Carrol.





Reading unit: The Novel.

  • An analytical unit, designed to develop and extend skills of analysis and critical reading.
  • This unit includes written responses, speaking and listening and opportunities for drama.

Novels include:

The Boy in Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne, War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle.


Poetry Unit: Poems from Other Cultures and Traditions.

  • Cultures poetry anthology, including texts from the literary heritage and texts from differing cultures.


  • Students are  introduced to key vocabulary for this unit.
  • Students read and analyse a selection of poems.
  • Completion of a comparative piece of writing analysing how the poets use language, form and structure for effect.  Can be thematic


  • Students create their own poetry anthology (poems they have written).  This should include an introduction and commentary.  Illustrations may be used.
  • There will be opportunities for performance and recitation within this unit.


The Gothic Unit

A. Reading the Gothic

  • Students will read a variety of both literary and non-literary texts within the Gothic genre  to develop and extend their reading skills.  They will focus on exploring the Gothic genre, authorial intention and how language and structure are used for effect and to impact on meaning.

Range of texts/extracts:

  • The Red Room
  • The Lie Tree
  • Frankenstein
  • Jekyll and Hyde
  • Wuthering Heights
  • Macbeth & Hamlet
  • The woman in Black

B. Gothic Writing

  • Students will explore the Gothic genres  and will analyse genre conventions. They will use this knowledge to create a  written response in the Gothic style.

Non-fiction focus: Writing to Persuade

Children will explore how writers use layout, language, purpose and audience to read and analyse a range of persuasive literature before they write their own.



A Midsummer Night’s Dream

  • Students will read the play, taking advantage of different performances and speaking and listening opportunities.  They will explore how Shakespeare presents character and theme through close analysis of language and structure.
  • In class students will focus on how Shakespeare presents character and theme through analysis of language and structure in key scenes.


Thematic unit: Poetry through the ages

Children will explore language change through the following periods:

  • Early and Middle English: Beowulf and an introduction to Chaucer
  • Elizabethan: An introduction to Shakespeare’s sonnets
  • The Metaphysical poets: George Herbert, John Donne and Anna Bradstreet
  • Romanticism: William Blake and John Keats
  • Modernism: T. S. Elliot
  • Contemporary poetry: Carol Ann Duffy, Benjamin Zephaniah and slam poetry.

Year 8


Themed unit: Relationships

  • This unit explores different relationships such as friendship, parent/child relationships and romantic love as presented in a number of texts.

Parent/child relationships through poetry: ‘Nettles’ by Vernon Scannell and ‘Catrin’ by Gillian Clarke.


How does Steinbeck use language and structure to present relationships in ‘Of Mice and Men’.


  • Students will read a variety of both literary and non-literary texts to develop and extend their reading skills.  They will focus on exploring authorial intention and how language and structure are used for effect and to impact on meaning.


  • Students will explore a range of genres of writing and will analyse genre conventions. They will use this knowledge to create a number of written responses in different styles and forms.



  • How did Shakespeare present Romeo’s attitude towards love in Act 1 Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet.



Completion of Romeo and Juliet module.


Non fiction: Writing to advise and argue

Writing to advise: children to explore the conventions of this genre and write a response in this style.

Writing to argue: children to explore the conventions of this genre and write a response in this style.


Conflict poetry


  • Students read selected poems from an anthology, including texts from the literary heritage such as The Charge of the Light Brigadeby Tennyson, Dulce et Decorum Est by WIlfred Owen, The Soldier by Rupert Brooke, The Falling Leaves by Margaret Postgate Cole, Poppies by Jane Weir and The Right Word by Imtiaz Dharker among others.
  • Students are introduced to a range of key vocabulary for the unit while they   read and analyse a selection of conflict poems.
  • Assessment Task: Students complete a comparative piece of writing, analysing how the poets use language, form and structure for effect.


  • Students create their own poetry anthology (poems they have written).  This should include an introduction and commentary.  Illustrations may be used.
  • There will be opportunities for performance and recitation within this unit.
    Summative assessments will take place towards the end of this term.



Themed unit: Identity

  • The unit includes study of a short story, Flightby Doris Lessing to explore how language and structure are used to create meaning.  There are also a number of creative writing opportunities based around personal memory and personal identity and a drama unit.
  • Students also complete a Language based unit,  exploring the differences between spoken and written language and continue to  analyse their own ideolect.


Unit: Novel/ comparative short stories

  • A comparison of Lamb to the Slaughterby Roald Dahl and The Speckled Band by Arthur Conan Doyle OR a comparison of The Darkness Out There by Penelope Lively and Superman and Paula Brown’s New Snowsuit by Sylvia Plath.
  • Students will research the author and context of the novel they study.
  • Students will read the short stories, completing work on genre conventions, character and theme throughout the reading.  They will discuss authorial intention, use of language and how structure and form by the author.
  • Students will use the genre conventions of the stories they study to create their own short story.


End of year assessments


Transition work for High School


How is spelling taught at Valley Gardens?

The English language contains over a million words and has been affected by thousands of years of history. The National Curriculum reminds us that:” Most people read words more accurately than they spell them.” At Valley Gardens, we teach spelling with a strong foundation in phonics with a focus on empowering children to become lifelong spellers.

In Key Stage 2, we teach spelling on a two-week cycle:

Week A: During Week A, children complete a one hour spelling investigation in which they are presented with a hypothesis to explore. Children investigate the etymology, morphology and phonemic principles which contribute to word construction and meaning. Children analyse word construction to prove or disprove the hypothesis.

Week B: During Week B, children complete retention starter tasks which focus on the following key principles:

  1. Identifying spelling patters, commonalities and rules.
  2. Strategies to help spell live.
  3. Strategies for long term retention of spellings through recall.

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