English language and literature

English language and literature

English has a pre-eminent place in education and society; it is a subject fundamental to personal and intellectual growth. The study of English ensures students become confident readers and writers. It also encourages students to think creatively, critically and independently so that they can articulate their ideas with clarity and confidence in a range of ways.

English at Ashington Academy is an immersive experience, exposing students to classics such as Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ and Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’, to more modern works such as Dominic Cooke’s adaptation of the alternate reality ‘Noughts and Crosses’ and the poetry of Maya Angelou.

Students will journey through the literary canon, beginning in Medieval England with Beowulf and Geoffrey Chaucer before travelling on to encounter the complexity of power and masculine relationships portrayed in William Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’. Pupils can meet brooding romantic heroes like Wordsworth and Blake before arriving in the victorian period with Brontë, Browning and Dickens’ festive seminal work ‘A Christmas Carol’. The journey concludes in the modern era where they explore 1930s America and the unlikely friendship of George and Lennie in Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’, followed by the social inequality of Edwardian England with Priestley’s ‘An Inspector Calls’, as well as a range of poetry from diverse and exciting voices.

Students study a rich and challenging curriculum. From engaging with ideas from a wide variety of texts to opportunities for self-expression and creativity in both spoken and written contexts, studying English at Ashington Academy nurtures self-expression and reflective thought. Throughout the key stages, students will encounter a range of literary genres and forms, ranging from Jacobean drama and courtly love poetry to a whole host of non-fiction diaries, essays, letters and autobiographies. We take a cross-curricular approach, encouraging students to think about the social, political and historical context alongside developing their own voice. As well as following the curriculum, students will be encouraged to read for pleasure, experiencing a diverse range of literature as a platform for exploring new ideas, developing critical thinking skills and learning more about the world around them. Students will be inspired by great thinkers such as activist Martin Luther King, environmentalist Greta Thunberg and suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.

I really enjoy studying English at Ashington Academy. We study lots of different texts and how to write in different genres. For instance, in Year 7 we explored the story of Odysseus and his quest to survive, and in Year 8, we’re learning how to persuade people by using the art of rhetoric!
Year 8 student
English book with pages open and love heart

Our ‘Keys to Success’ literacy programme ensures students learn the fundamental skills to help them progress not only in English but across the whole curriculum. Students enjoy English because it is varied, fast-paced and fun. Every student is inspired to believe in their potential and to aim high. They acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language. Throughout their academic career here, students develop the ability to write accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. We endeavour to ensure all students become competent orators, including: making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate. 

View our post-16 curriculum here.

Ashington Student with hand up

It’s not only English lessons that are exciting at Ashington Academy: English teachers also fully immerse themselves in a range of English and literacy-themed events throughout the year, celebrating key dates in the literary calendar, including Shakespeare’s birthday in April and World Book Day. This entails a whole host of extra-curricular activities, including a 'Masked Reader' challenge! Alongside this, staff from all departments pull out all the stops to come to school dressed as their favourite literary characters.

The English department also hosts many extra-curricular clubs, including debate club, where students discuss the issues of the day and hone their arguing skills; creative writing club, where students are inspired to write across a range of genres and reading club, which allows students to come together to read and discuss their favourite books, all of which are very popular with our students.

Curriculum information






Introduction to the Canon – a timeline of British literary heritage.


Moments in History– developing speech writing skills through the study of key historical events of the twentieth century.

Gory Gothic Writing – Fiction writing inspired by Victorian Literature.


Much Ado About Nothing – Shakespeare’s funniest play and feistiest heroine.


Individual Voices Poetry – explore a range of poems from the Romantic era to the modern day.


Victorian Britain and Oliver Twist – an exploration of the reality of life in the Victorian era.


It's a Man's World (Modern Journalism)


Noughts and Crosses – immerse yourself in this modern-day stage adaptation of star-crossed lovers, race and violence...

Julius Caesar – enjoy Shakespeare’s epic tragedy where the race to claim the empire spirals out of control...


Of Mice and Men – appreciate the heart-warming friendship of George and Lennie in 1930s America

Hope in a Ballet Shoe –the amazing true story of Michaela DePrince: orphaned by war, ostracized by her appearance, saved by ballet.




Travels Around The World -be inspired to write by literature from around the world


Animal Farm – George Orwell’s political allegory is a 20th century British classic.


Creative Writing




Diverse Voices – listen to the voices of contemporary poets and write your own dramatic monologue.


Tragedy – meet the Greek chorus, tragic heroes, and explore the conventions of this epic genre.


A Search For The Truth – exploring some of the most pivotal news stories of our time through the investigative journalism that broke them.





Say it Out Loud – embrace your inner orator by performing a passionate speech.


Macbeth – visit medieval Scotland and the terrifying reign of Macbeth.


A Christmas Carol - Dickens’ famous tale of redemption and change.

Explorations in Creative Reading – experience the breadth and beauty of 20th century fiction.


An Inspector Calls - Evaluate Priestley's post-war political ideas 

Writers’ Viewpoints and perspectives – compare and contrast the great thinkers of the Victorian era with modern journalism


Power and Conflict Poetry – read poetry across time and genre and explore the perennial questions.


Power and Conflict revision and Unseen Poetry.


Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing Revision.


An Inspector Calls



A Christmas Carol revision


Non-fiction writing revision


Writers’ Viewpoints and perspectives revision





In English lessons we are developing communication skills that will be invaluable to any university course and career in our future. We also study texts such as ‘Macbeth’ and ‘A Christmas Carol’ that are both enjoyable to read and also convey important messages that are still relevant today.
Year 11 student