Michaela Community School | English at Michaela
Michaela Community School, Wembley

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.


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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.


  • Context: Medieval Verona, Renaissance England, plague, hierarchy, patriarchy, gender
  • Stagecraft: tragedy, foreshadowing, soliloquy, stage directions, props
  • Themes: love, conflict, vengeance, marriage, inevitability


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • Context: Paradise Lost, French Revolution, the Enlightenment
  • Concepts: perspective, allusion, prolepsis, epithets, symbolism, epistolary novels
  • 30 quotations learned by heart


  • 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

In year 9, we continue the chronological study of great literature, and challenge pupils to compare different texts by frequently recapping on those previously studied. We assess pupils in a more challenging manner, by testing them using unseen questions at multiple points in the year.
We continue to focus on improving pupils’ written accuracy by using grammar and spelling drills to begin every lesson.
Pupils study two plays by Shakespeare, Dickens’ Oliver Twist, war poetry, and the speeches and writings of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
Unit 1: Merchant of Venice
  • 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
Unit 2: Othello
  • Context: C16 Venice and England, racism, growing interest in an unsettlingly wide world
  • Concepts: Miscegenation, misogyny, patriarchy
  • Memory: 30 quotations learned by heart
Unit 3: Oliver Twist
  • Context: Victorian England, workhouses, Poor Laws, Dickens’ biography, transportation, debt
  • Concepts: Omniscient narration, didacticism, perspective, irony
Unit 4: War Poetry
  • Context: World War I, World War II, the Holocaust
  • Concepts: comparison of multiple poems
  • Memory: ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ memorised
Unit 5: Civil Rights in America
  • Context: US slave trade, American Civil War, 1960s civil rights movement, biographies of key individuals
  • Concepts: advanced rhetorical techniques
Unit 6: Comparative poetry
A short unit focusing on reading a broad selection of poetry for comment and comparison

Years 10 and 11

There are 8 units over Key Stage 4 in two GCSEs: English Language and English Literature. Pupils will sit Edexcel GCSE English Language and AQA English Literature at the end of year 11. Each GCSE contains four distinct yet linked modules that we will study across both years 10 and 11. The GCSE courses provide pupils with access to a broad range of texts from the literary canon, building on their knowledge from Key Stage 3.


English Language

  1. C19 Fiction: reading
  2. Creative writing
  3. C20 and C21 non-fiction: reading
  4. Transactional writing


English Literature

  1. A Christmas Carol
  2. Poetry of Power and Conflict
  3. The Tempest
  4. Animal Farm
 If you would like to find out more about the English curriculum, please email info@mcsbrent.co.uk