Curriculum Intent

At Hexham Middle School our English curriculum is designed to promote and encourage a lifelong enjoyment and love of reading; create curious, independent and perceptive thinkers; and equip our students with the communicative skills and technical accuracy that they will need to flourish and succeed in the next stage of their education and beyond. 

Implementation and Impact

We pride ourselves on having created a diverse and vibrant curriculum, which has been thoughtfully sequenced to support our students’ progress over time. Each unit of work has been carefully mapped out to help students build on the skills they have been previously taught: perceptive connections between literary texts are more readily grasped; retaining key knowledge is made more manageable and developing proficiency in both reading and writing is strengthened.

Over four years our students are gradually exposed to a diverse range of fiction, both modern and classical; exciting non-fiction works; poetry and drama. Teachers use our dynamic canon of literature to create meaningful opportunities for students to develop their reading fluency, writing and spoken language skills. Our well-chosen texts incite natural discussion around serious issues such as: spirituality, society, culture and relationships, and our classrooms provide a secure forum for students to voice their ideas about these topics.

In both years 5 and 6 our curriculum is underpinned by a robust focus on spelling, grammar and punctuation, which teachers embed within every lesson. We believe that this focus is not only essential to prepare students for their SATS, but also to solidify the composite skills needed to enjoy both reading and writing as they proceed onwards in their educational careers. All teachers adapt their lessons and implement our curriculum to best fit the needs of their own individual groups; extra challenge is delivered to those with the potential to achieve greater depth, whilst extra support and scaffolding is given to those with special educational needs.

Our curriculum for years 7 and 8 focuses on giving students a solid platform to prepare them for the demands of KS4 and to continuing to nurture their growing independence as readers. Students begin to stretch and test their inference skills: unpicking authorial methods and starting to write more analytically and critically about texts. Challenging 19th century texts, Shakespearian tragedies and dramatic monologues all feature in our units for KS3. Students leave us with a secure understanding of both 16th and 19th century contexts which will give them a worthy foothold for approaching the prescribed KS4 literature.

Sequence of Learning

Visual overview of the texts studied across Years 5-8 (click image for larger view)

Autumn Term

Modern Fiction

Holes by Louis Sachar

  • Persuasive writing – persuasive leaflet
  • Narrative – persuasive letter
  • Reading comprehension

Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG): Adjectives, synonyms, homophones, nouns, noun phrases, complex sentence structures, idioms, palindromes, commands, verbs.

Spring Term

Narrative Poetry

The Highwayman 

  • Figurative language
  • Writing verse
  • Rhyme schemes
  • Reading comprehension

SPaG: Spelling patterns, syllables, figurative language.

Illustrated Texts

The Journey (fiction) and Shackleton’s Journey (non-fiction)

  • Writing a diary entry
  • Writing a letter in role
  • Creating a CV
  • Recounting events in order

SPaG: Speech punctuation, clauses, use of colons, semi-colons and pronouns.

Summer Term

The Railway Children

Pupils will study this popular example of classic fiction, by the acclaimed author E Nesbit, in the Summer Term in order to build on their existing comprehension skills and to provide many more exciting opportunities for extended writing and cross-curricular links with other subjects.

Tasks include: Writing a letter in character, a detailed character analysis, research and presentation on life during the Victorian times, appreciation of a variety of poetry related to the storyline and writing a biography of an author.

Autumn 1 & Autumn 2

Modern Fiction

The Kingdom by the Sea by Robert Westall

  • Persuasive writing – evacuation leaflet
  • Recount – diary entry
  • Narrative – writing in role
  • Propaganda poster, persuasive speech

Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG): Revision of Year 5 objectives, verb tenses, types of noun, pronouns, apostrophes, subjunctive mood.

Spring 1 & Spring 2

Classic Literature

Extracts from: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, The Jungle Book, Frankenstein

  • Reading comprehension including questions testing literal understanding, inference and deduction, recognition of authorial intent.

SPaG: Determiners, types of pronoun, active and passive voice.

Summer 1 & Summer 2

Modern Fiction

Wonder by RJ Palacio

  • Narrative – descriptive writing, creation of an informative leaflet, writing from alternative perspectives, creation and performance of playscripts in role.

SATs revision of all KS2 SPAG coverage (Years 3-6)

Autumn 1 & Autumn 2

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

  • Reading assessment – analysis of a character.
  • Writing your own account/adventure story
  • Newspaper report on discovery of treasure 
  • Grammatical and terminology assessment 

Spring 1 & Spring 2

Modern Fiction

Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce

  • Presentation – what would you do with £1 million?
  • Narrative – writing in role as characters.
  • Character comparison and analysis.
  • Persuasive writing – formal letter writing.
  • Book and film comparison essay.

Summer 1 & Summer 2

Seminal World Literature

Shakespeare: an overview

  • Study of Tudor England, particularly Shakespeare’s London.
  • Letter of complaint, non-chronological report.
  • Overview of Romeo and Juliet including opportunities to act, recite parts by heart, study of key scenes.

Autumn 1

Non-Fiction: Conflict

9/11 non-fiction topic and WW1 war poetry

  • Recount – newspaper article
  • Narrative – creative writing
  • Poetry study and analysis

Autumn 2

Non-Fiction: Conflict

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

  • Character analysis essay.
  • Creative writing – letter from the trenches. Writing with an image as a stimulus.

Spring 1 & Spring 2

Seminal World Literature: Shakespeare


  • Analysis of Othello the character
  • Understanding of the storyline
  • Analysis of character behaviour
  • Retelling the story
  • Learning about witchcraft and the historical context
  • In-depth understanding of key scenes and symbolism within the play

Summer 1 & Summer 2

Modern Fiction: Gothic Literature

Extracts from Frankenstein, Woman in Black, A Monkey’s Paw, Dracula and Twilight. Poetry: The Raven, Christabel

  • Analysis of features of Gothic Literature
  • Literary techniques and devices
  • Comparison of two descriptive pieces
  • Writing in the style of a Gothic narrative
  • Creative writing inspired by a short film
  • Transition assessment for QEHS.

Wider Curriculum and Personal Development

There are lots of things that we do here at HMS to enrich our English curriculum, throughout the four years that all students are with us, they have many chances to: become librarians; see live drama; learn and recite poetry by heart; use our welcoming library; meet and question authors and poets; take part in reading groups; visit historically linked places; enter writing competitions; visit book fairs and enjoy the experience reading for pleasure in form time.

​Our team of teachers in English are committed to instilling their own love of language and literature into our students and aim to do so in a way that is relatable, inclusive and exciting for our young learners. We want all students who leave HMS to cherish the memories they have of reading and continue to enjoy literature for many years to come.  

Supporting Documents

Vocab Pyramid: Drama
Vocab Pyramid: Fiction Prose
Vocab Pyramid: Fiction Writing
Vocab Pyramid: Non-Fiction
Vocab Pyramid: Poetry