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Northumberland Theatre Company performed Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' to Y6 and Y7, September 2022.

Press Club interviewed the cast - look out for the article in our next newsletter!


English at GEMS

Curriculum Intent

English is a core subject and we value its importance within the broader curriculum. Our teachers aim to secure pupils with cultural and contextual knowledge in English lessons, providing learning that introduces children to ideas and events from the past, challenging them to be critical thinkers. All pupils are encouraged to explore ideas about humanity through reading: we want all our pupils to be people that value empathy to challenge how our world is and how they want it to be.

We are passionate about reading at GEMS. Our aim is for pupils to not only find reading a pleasure… we want reading to be something they can’t get enough of, something that they are keen to share with teachers and other students. We promote a love of reading across the school; every pupil is encouraged to read widely and share their reading with enthusiasm. We aim to do this through our curriculum offer, our class readers, our fantastic library facilities, our successful class reading incentives, our book clubs for each year group, by organising author events, reading journal homework and we have recently introduced Reading Fluency Project.

Throughout KS2 and KS3, pupils study a variety of texts of increasingly complex and challenging texts, including novels, plays, poetry, short stories and non-fiction. Texts are studied for reading comprehension and analysis as well as being used for exemplars of good writing. Pupils study one Shakespeare play each year at GEMS and they are exposed to a variety of texts, from poetry to 19th century prose to contemporary fiction. The texts studied are frequently changed to suit the cohort, to add more contemporary texts and to address topical issues.

Our curriculum is planned to ensure that all pupils gain transferable literacy skills. Pupils cover a range of writing each year: creative/descriptive, narrative, instructions, persuasive, explanation, recount, report, balanced argument and poetry writing. Pupils are exposed to high quality texts and real life examples to aid the development of their writing skills. We want all pupils to be able to analyse the author’s craft: exploring content and organisation, language, sentence types and punctuation use in order to improve their own writing. Spelling, punctuation and grammar are taught explicitly as well as being linked with the text being studied.

We are always exploring what we can offer across English in the school, ensuring that the best provision is provided for all of our pupils.

How students are supported in English

We are proud to provide smaller class sizes in English for ALL pupils, by employing additional staff and by teaching in mainly mixed ability groups. Mixed ability works because our English teachers use scaffolding effectively, change in-class groupings and offer a supportive class climate where all pupils are expected to participate and engage in the challenging work set. We teach at a high level while ensuring that the work is accessible for every child.

We have small nurture groups in every year group to provide extra support for pupils with additional needs, with the aim to reintroduce the children back to the main classes before the end of Year 8. We have a challenge group in Year 5 and in Year 6. These groups support the pupils who are borderline for achieving greater depth, pushing them to fulfil their potential.

Specific approaches to support students in English:

  • · Reading Fluency Project
  • · Library sessions
  • · Reading aloud to teacher/LSA
  • · Unseen text analysis
  • · Guided reading
  • · Guided writing/writing challenges
  • · Verbal feedback
  • · Live marking
  • · Modelling
  • · Small group work
  • · Word banks
  • · Sentence stems
  • · Self-reflection
  • · Fix-it tasks

Homework activities are provided for our pupils via Seesaw. We have a list of useful websites for additional at home support, which can be found under the links section.

Pupils are expected to have a reading book with them at all times in school; reading for pleasure is actively encouraged by all staff. We have termly recommended reads and reading challenges (further details can be found under the Reading for Pleasure section of our website).


Each child’s progress and attainment is checked in lessons through targeted questioning and marking of pupils’ work. Regular feedback ensures that pupils know what they need to do to improve.

In Year 5 and Year 6 pupils complete half termly tests in reading comprehension, GPS (grammar, punctuation and spelling) and a spelling test using CGP tests and past SATs papers. Pupils complete two assessed pieces of writing each half term and they regularly do speaking and listening activities, including drama and performing poetry learnt by heart.

In Year 7 and Year 8 teachers assess pupils’ writing and assess their reading analysis skills every half term. Pupils complete AQA KS3 practice papers for reading and writing termly. Drama and other speaking and listening activities are enjoyed in KS3, including talks on heroes and challenging issues.

Enrichment Opportunities

We enjoy theatre and cinema trips, we take part in writing workshops and we have many live author talks, including fantastic workshops with Michael Rosen. Many writing and drama opportunities take place throughout the academic year and we enter the Lit Quiz each year.

Our book clubs, on offer for each year group, meet weekly to share their love of reading and explore the author’s craft in depth. Some of the books read include ‘Boy in the Tower’, ‘The Nest’, ‘Smart’, ‘Looking at the Stars’, ‘Ghost Boys’, ‘Jessica’s Ghost’ and ‘A Monster Calls’.

Press Club work with Mrs Leahy to report key events happening at our school, producing the school newsletter each half term.

Topic Overview






Year 5


Relationships poetry

Short stories: Space theme

‘The Tempest’

‘Wolf Brother’

Year 6

‘Kensuke’s Kingdom’


Nature poetry


SATs prep


Year 7

English through time

‘The Wolf Wilder’

Conflict poetry

‘Much Ado About Nothing’ or ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

‘Animal Farm’ or ‘Oliver Twist’

Year 8

‘Of Mice and Men’

Power poetry

‘Romeo and Juliet’

Love poetry

Gothic literature

Crime and mystery stories: Sherlock Holmes

Useful Links

English Programmes of Study

Websites to support learning at home: