English has a very important place in the curriculum.  The skills learnt are vital to the growth of students as individuals and therefore the priorities of the English Department are driven by the principles of Aspire and Achieve and the importance of personalised learning. 

Regardless of the level of English that students arrive with, at The Vale Academy, the English Department looks to support, encourage and develop them to reach their full potential - in their English exams, in their use of English in other subjects and in their confident and fluent use of English in all other aspects of their academy life and beyond. 

There are 11 members of staff within the English Department:-

Mrs N Williams: Principal
Mrs M Sullivan: Curriculum Leader
Ms S King: Assistant Curriculum Leader and Curriculum Leader for Media studies
Mr P Kench: English Teacher  
Mrs J Todd: English Teacher
Miss K Longden: English Teacher
Ms A Ogman: English Teacher
Miss I Wright: English Teacher
Miss E Philipson: English Teacher
Miss J Ronaldson: English Teacher
Mrs C Wray: Learning Mentor 


Students enjoy schemes of work that allow them to develop as insightful readers and creative, purposeful writers, while also offering them opportunities to express their ideas and explore their world through spoken language and discussion. 

In writing, students learn the skills to adapt to the needs of specific audiences and purposes and to develop and enjoy their own writing style to suit a variety of forms. Students also read, analyse and explore a wide range of stimulating material: novels, multi-modal texts, poetry, plays, fiction and non-fiction and writing from other cultures.  

The library houses an extensive collection of new fiction and non-fiction books and students have the opportunity to borrow books for reading at home. Students also engage in structured library lessons in Years 7, 8, and 9, whereby they are encouraged to read individually and in small groups with interesting activities which support their learning. 


Key Stage 3 

The study of English is divided into three key areas: Reading, Writing and Speaking & Listening. During Year 7 and 8, students will study and analyse whole class novels. They will also learn to analyse how writers use language and structure to enhance meaning. Students will be taught to develop interpretations in PEE paragraphs so they are able to explore their reading analytically.  

Students will study a Unit on pre 1914 prose and poetry texts, an extract from a play by Shakespeare, and a modern play. Students will also read and analyse a variety of non-fiction texts. This range of study will ensure every student reads a variety of texts to support and extend their learning and understanding. Students will also have one library lesson a fortnight. They will be encouraged to choose a fiction book from the library to encourage reading at home.  

Key Stage 4

All students study English Language and English Literature and follow the AQA Specifications. 

GCSE English Language

The course will be assessed by two separate end of course examinations in which students will read and show their understanding of a range of texts. Exam questions focus on the study of a Literature text and writing a piece of narrative or descriptive writing using a range of vocabulary and sentences with accurate spelling and punctuation.

Students will comment on writers’ viewpoints and perspectives, exploring two extracts from texts, one written pre-1914.

Students will also be assessed on a unit of Spoken Language in which they will be required to demonstrate their speaking and listening skills in presenting and responding.

English Language revision guides are available via Parent Pay and extra revision lessons are offered prior to examinations. 

GCSE English Literature

The course will be assessed by end of examinations in which students will write responses to a play by Shakespeare, a 19th Century novel and a modern drama.

Students will also study a cluster of poems which are linked by themes, written between 1780 and the present day.

The course encourages students to read a wide range of classical literature and assesses them on their ability to write effectively and analytically.

English Literature revision guides are available via Parent Pay and extra revision lessons are offered prior to examinations.

Key Stage 5

At A Level, students have the choice to study either AQA English Language or AQA English Literature.

English Language:

At AS, students focus on developing their skills in linguistic analysis, exploring a wide range of texts, produced for a number of different audience and purposes. Students study a range of language units which focus on different aspects of language development. At A2 they extend their understanding of linguistic methods and develop an insight into the key concepts and theories of language study. This unit explores the study of social contexts, genres of speech, writing and multi-modal texts first explored at AS. Students study a unit on Children’s Development of Language. They also produce their own coursework folder, worth 20% of their final mark, focusing on an area of their choice. The course is also assessed through a final exam.

English Literature:

Students study a selection of texts - poetry, prose and drama and build on their analytical and writing skills from GCSE. Students study Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’, ‘The Great Gatsby’, a selection of poetry texts and a modern drama. The course is assessed by: a comparative essay, focused on Shakespeare and a prose text of their choice, worth 20% of the final mark and two terminal examinations. 


The English Department has a dedicated Learning Mentor who works closely with students from all abilities and year groups. The students are supported through a programme of intervention which takes place at tutor times and after school. Teachers hold pre-examination revision sessions to consolidate and reinforce classroom teaching. The Learning Support Assistant also works closely with the English department, liaising with teachers and the Special Needs Department.

Revision guides and support materials are always readily available for students. 

Forthcoming events

This year students will have the opportunity to take part in a variety of extra-curricular activities including:

the opportunity to visit Stratford Upon Avon and participate in a variety of activities with an overnight stay.

World Book Day in March 2019. The English Department will host a variety of reading activities to support and extend students’ experience and enjoyment of literature.

Writing competitions are held throughout the year.

Theatre and cinema trips are also arranged according to the availability of suitable and appropriate screenings. 

Links to enrichment

We recognise the huge importance that extra-curricular and cross-curricular activities play in the development of students as independent and confident learners of English. Over the past few years we have had success with both poetry and short story competitions. Writers are invited to visit the school to deliver workshops and to support students’ interest in literature. We work closely with the library in developing a ‘reading culture’ across the school. Students in Years 7,8, and 9, participate in Library lessons every two weeks and the library is open for personal study at lunchtimes. Students have also liaised closely with some of our primary feeder schools.