English at Michaela
Pupils study the correct rules of spelling, punctuation and grammar. They study the history of English language and literature, learning about how the language has developed and looking at some of the great writers in English. Unlike many schools, we teach literature in chronological order, enabling pupils to better make connections between what they are learning, and to understand the influence of earlier writers on later ones. There are five one-hour English lessons per week. We believe that analysis allows pupils to make connections between their knowledge of the context, plot, characters, vocabulary, quotations, techniques and audience. We also believe that drilling grammar, learning rhetoric and memorising poetry by heart has a powerful impact on our pupils’ lives.
Pupils with low reading ages follow an intensive programme of synthetic phonics.
Year 7 English at Michaela
The Michaela Year 7 English curriculum prepares all pupils to express themselves coherently in writing and speech, and to understand how others express themselves in writing and speech. It also introduces pupils to their literary heritage: plays, poems, novels and non-fiction texts; and the mechanics of grammar, spelling and vocabulary.
Unlike many schools, we explicitly teach grammar for one hour a week in years 7 and 8. The grammar unit develops pupils’ writing to become accurate, clear and coherent. The concepts of parts of speech, syntax and punctuation are taught and practised frequently so that pupils secure their understanding of the rules of the language. Regular spelling tests ensure that pupils learn important, frequently misspelled words. The vocabulary unit allows them to learn the Greek and Latin root stems that are the basic building blocks of word meanings with several applications.
The literature unit develops important cultural knowledge. Year 7 focuses on Greek myths, legends, heroes and heroines, including Homer’s epic, The Odyssey and Virgil’s epic, The Aeneid. It ranges across poetry, biographies and speeches, and culminates in Shakespeare’s opening play at the Globe Theatre in 1599, Julius Caesar. Differently to most, we teach and expect pupils to recite poetry and extracts from plays from memory. We revisit these every year to ensure our pupils will never forget them.
UNIT 1: GREEK MYTHS
- Greek gods and goddesses: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Hades, Athena, Aphrodite, Artemis, Apollo, Hermes, Ares, Demeter.
- Mythological creatures: the Nemean Lion, the hydra, Cerberus, Medusa, The Minotaur, Scylla, Charybdis, The Sirens, Circe, Calypso
- Heroes and mortals: Jason, Perseus, Theseus, Ariadne, Aegeus, Hercules, Daedalus & Icarus, Midas, Atlas, Agamemnon, Clytaemnestra, Menelaus, Helen, Hector, Priam, Paris, Achilles, Briseis, Patroclus, Ajax, Odysseus, Teiresias, Telemachus, Penelope, Sisyphus, Tantalus, Prometheus, Pandora, Antigone, Aeneas
- Concepts: wrath, heroism, glory, fate, prophecy, hubris, nemesis, deception
UNIT 2: EPIC POETRY
- Poems: The Eagle, Tyger Tyger, Mrs Icarus, Mrs Midas, Medusa, Limericks, Circe, Demeter, The Jabberwocky, Icarus, Ozymandias, Ulysses, Ithaka, Medusa, The Pomegranate
- Poets: Carol Anne Duffy, William Blake, Alfred Tennyson, Lewis Caroll, Percy Shelley
- Concepts: Imagery, Simile, Metaphor, Repetition, Personification, Juxtaposition, Rhyme, Alliteration, Onomatopoeia, Sibilance, Assonance, Stanza, Symbolism
UNIT 3: ROMAN RHETORIC
- Ancient Rome: The Roman Republic, Julius Caesar, Marcus Cicero, Assassination and Civil War
- Devices: Ethos, Logos, Pathos, Repetition, Rhetorical Question, Tricolon, Imagery, Epiplexis, Anaphora
- Concepts: Antithesis, Democracy, Republic, Assassination, Autocracy, Dictator, Senator, Tyranny, Election
UNIT 4: JULIUS CAESAR
- Playscript: Act 1.1 Lupercalia; Act 1.2 A Soothsayer’s Prophecy; Act 1.2 Cassius convinces Brutus; Act 1.3 The Conspirators Plot; Act 2.1 Calpurnia’s Dream; Act 3.1 Assassination; Act 3.1 Antony’s Prophecy; Act 3.2 Brutus’ Speech; Act 3.3 Antony’s Elegy; Act 3.3 Cinna the Poet; Act 4.1 Cassius & Brutus at Phillipi; Act 4.2 Caesar’s Ghost at Phillipi; Act 5.1 Two Suicides
- Stagecraft: tragedy, dramatic irony, stage directions, props, pathetic fallacy, irony, slogan, soliloquy, personification, anthropomorphism
- Concepts: tyranny, democracy, liberty, prophecy, omens, ambition
UNIT 5: GRAMMAR, VOCABULARY & SPELLING
- Grammar: 7 parts of speech, syntax, sentence errors, punctuation
- Vocabulary: 30 Latin and Greek root words, 30 common phrases and sayings
- Spelling: 60 commonly misspelled words
Year 8 English at Michaela
The Michaela Year 8 English curriculum builds on the pupils’ literary heritage gained in year 7. Pupils continue to practise and study grammar weekly, to enhance the accuracy and fluency of their writing. While revisiting key concepts and texts studied in year 7, we also stretch pupils in year 8 to study more challenging texts in depth.
Unlike most schools, pupils are expected to write essays at length and from memory, without copies of the texts studied to help them. They continue to learn poetry and quotations by heart to enable them to do this, revisiting earlier poems and quotations to ensure our pupils never forget them. We teach explicitly components of Aristotelian tragedy, and expect pupils to refer to these in their writing.
In literature, pupils study two Shakespeare plays, explore biographies of influential Tudor women, read the poetry of the Romantics, and learn the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
UNIT 1: ROMEO AND JULIET
- Context: Medieval Verona, Renaissance England, plague, hierarchy, patriarchy, gender
- Stagecraft: tragedy, foreshadowing, soliloquy, stage directions, props
- Themes: love, conflict, vengeance, marriage, inevitability
UNIT 2: MACBETH
- Context: Medieval Scotland, James I, witchcraft, gunpowder plot
- Stagecraft: stage directions, asides, soliloquies, dramatic irony, hamartia, hubris, anagnoresis, peripeteia, catharsis
- Themes: monarchy, regicide, treason, prophecy, appearance and reality
- 30 quotations learned by heart
UNIT 3: TUDOR SHE-WOLVES
- Context: Renaissance England and Henry VIII
- Biographies: Anne Boleyn, Mary I, Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots
- Concepts: patriarchy, dynasty, legitimate, coup, sovereignty, heresy, confession, redemption
UNIT 4: ROMANTIC POETRY
- Poets: William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats
- Concepts: stanza, quatrain, couplet, enjambment, caesura, free verse, eponymity, anonymity, ambiguity
UNIT 5: FRANKENSTEIN
- Context: Paradise Lost, French Revolution, the Enlightenment
- Concepts: perspective, allusion, prolepsis, epithets, symbolism, epistolary novels
- 30 quotations learned by heart
UNIT 6: GRAMMAR, VOCABULARY AND SPELLING
- Grammar: parts of speech, syntax, sentence errors, punctuation, clauses and phrases
- Vocabulary: 30 challenging words
- Spelling: 60 commonly misspelled words
Year 9 English at Michaela
- Context: C16 Venice and England, ghettoes, anti-Semitism, Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta
- Concepts: Financial and legal vocabulary
- Dramatic readings: Pupils learn Shylock’s famous speech by heart
- Context: C16 Venice and England, racism, growing interest in an unsettlingly wide world
- Concepts: Miscegenation, misogyny, patriarchy
- Memory: 30 quotations learned by heart
- Context: Victorian England, workhouses, Poor Laws, Dickens’ biography, transportation, debt
- Concepts: Omniscient narration, didacticism, perspective, irony
- Context: World War I, World War II, the Holocaust
- Concepts: comparison of multiple poems
- Memory: ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ memorised
- Context: US slave trade, American Civil War, 1960s civil rights movement, biographies of key individuals
- Concepts: advanced rhetorical techniques