We aim for all pupils to be articulate, confident speakers; thoughtful and intelligent listeners with superb expertise in reading and writing

What is English?

English is the study and exploration of written texts created in the English language. English can be split into two key areas of study – English Language and English Literature.

English literature includes the study of novels, plays, short stories, and poetry. Through the composition of essays, English literature focuses on the comprehension of important themes and ideas; analysis of language and structure; and the significance of historical context and authorial intention.

English language is the study of grammar, usage and style through the study of fictional and non-fictional extracts. English language focuses on comprehension; analysis of language and structure; writers’ viewpoints and ideas. English language is also the exploration of how the English language has changed and developed over time – exploring issues such as dialect/accent. Moreover, English language is the study of writing styles; students express their own viewpoints and ideas through creative writing - story writing, letter writing, article/blog writing. 

Why is this subject important? 

English empowers students; it gives them the foundations necessary to succeed in other subjects. English teaches pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development by engaging students with their literary heritage. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.

English allows students to read easily, fluently and with good understanding. It encourages students to develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information. English enables students to acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language. Furthermore, English gives students the chance to appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage. English encourages students to write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. English employs the use of discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas. By studying English, students become more competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate. 

What is the purpose of the subject? 

The overarching purpose of English is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. Significantly though, the purpose of English is to improve the quality of life for the students in the school: to increase their life span and to give them the chance to earn higher wages.

Cardinal Wiseman is situated in Kingstanding which is a deprived area of Birmingham. 56.1% of students are Pupil Premium, compared with the national average of 27.7%. Additionally, 23% of students are EAL, compared with the national average of 16.9%. As a result, reading ages in the school are low. A study which was published by the National Literacy Trust found a direct correlation with life expectancy and literacy rates - research showed that life expectancy could be lowered by up to 26 years for children growing up in the areas with the most severe literacy problems. Additionally,, they also discovered a link between low literacy rates and poor health, both mental and physical, as well as a higher likelihood of being involved in criminal activity. Lower literacy increases the chances of unemployment which increases stress, poverty and has negative health side effects. The purpose of English is to improve students’ vocabulary and literacy skills to improve their chances of success.

Moreover, the purpose of English is to provide students with the skills that they will need to function in life beyond education. English develops skills such as discussion and debate, as well as continuing to develop their skills in working collaboratively with their peers. English allows students to understand nuances in meaning, and how to develop their understanding of, and ability to use, figurative language. The purpose of English, is therefore, to allow students to develop skills which will make them more employable and more skilled. Through speaking and listening, students will be able to speak confidently and effectively, using Standard English confidently in a range of formal and informal contexts. Students will also focus on intonation, tone, volume, mood, silence, stillness and action to add impact to their articulation.

The purpose of English is to allow students to develop a sense of their own identity. Students will learn about other cultures and traditions and will explore issues that challenge home/societal bias. Important societal issues such as race, gender and sexuality will be explored so that students develop morals and virtues consistent with the school’s beliefs. English allows discussion, debate and conversations to ensure that students are well-rounded, empathetic citizens. The purpose of English is to increase cultural capital, to allow all students to overcome any circumstances of birth that might put them at a disadvantage and to ensure that everyone can succeed in their life beyond school.

What are the key concepts in English? 

The key concepts in English are broken down into five categories: comprehension analysis; literary heritage; communication and technical accuracy. These concepts were decided by taking into consideration the end point in school (their GCSE exams in literature and language) as well as by taking into consideration the students’ cross curricular needs; post-16 ambitions; and functional literacy skills to allow students to function in society. (Assessment objectives are italicised underneath each section to highlight how each concept is relevant to assessment.) The concepts have been further broken down into ‘sub-concepts’ to reveal the important skills for each concept.


Comprehension is the ability to understand something; it is an integral part of English. Students will need to understand a range of information; they will have to read and understand: novels, articles, plays, poems and letters from a range of different time periods. Moreover, they will have to be able to understand how to access the other concepts: key terminology in English; how to analyse; understand context and authorial intention; communicate their ideas effectively and understand how to write using the correct spelling, punctuation and grammar. The ability to comprehend differing forms of writing is of vital importance for the students’ lives to allow them to function in society, communicate and succeed.


-        language

-        structure and form

-        critical theory  

Analysis is the detailed examination of the elements or structure of something. In English students are required to analyse in many different ways; they have to analyse: language analysis; structure and form; tone and writers’ perspectives. Analysis builds upon the concept of comprehension; once students have understood, they can study in further detail – this analysis is necessary if students are to communicate their ideas successfully.


-        Speaking and listening

-        Writing for different purposes

-        Academic writing

Communication is the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium. Students are required to communicate in a variety of different ways; they will have to communicate their feelings, opinions, beliefs and ideas; they will need to communicate successfully in the correct format (depending on each specific exam question). They will also have to communicate using body language and oral skills during speaking and listening. The ability to communicate is essential across all subjects as well as being a crucial skill if students are to converse with others in society, function and succeed.

Literary Heritage

-        Themes

-        Context

-        Genre

If students have access to their literary heritage, they will be able to explore works from prominent authors who have come before them. A range of British writers have been chosen to allow students to explore British values and British society. Authors are chosen to ensure a broad and balanced curriculum and to ensure that students access works of key importance. Texts are chosen based on their contribution to society and the literary cannon. Texts throughout time have similar themes, morals and purposes; by exploring a range of texts from significant literary figures, students will explore societal issues, compare writers’ ideas and explore the world in which they live. By exploring context, students will be given the chance to explore the circumstances that form the setting for a literary piece and will therefore, be able to understand it more fully.

Technical Accuracy

-        Spelling, Punctuation, Grammar

-        Syntax

-        Vocabulary

The use of accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar is essential for successful communication. It is important that you understand how to vary sentence structures, use a range of advanced punctuation and use advanced vocabulary. You will craft your writing in order to express your ideas and ensure that your answers are clear.