Curriculum Leader - English:

Miss Hutchison


English Curriculum Team 

Desborough College was founded in 1894 as Maidenhead Boys’ Grammar School and today you will find us managing to combine a powerful sense of tradition with vibrant modernity.

The English team consists of a strong team of specialists who are all committed to the success and enrichment of the pupils they teach.

As a core subject the position of English at the heart of the Desborough curriculum is enviably secure and our exam results at KS3, 4 and 5 have remained consistently high and always exceeding both national and local percentage figures, particularly for an all boys’ school.  We are particularly proud of our take up of boys studying English at AS and A2 in the Sixth Form.


Year 7

The Year 7 cohort is taught in their own unique base, allowing them a valuable transition period between KS2 and KS3.  We are particularly proud of our links with primary feeder schools and emphasise the importance of transition activities such as Summer Schools and Primary School Reunions.


FAQs: English at Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9)

  • How can I support my child at home?

1. Reading

Each week in their planner, your child must note down: the book’s title, three words or phrases from the book they are reading, the page number the words are on, and give their meaning. We strongly suggest that your child reads for a minimum of 20 minutes every day. Reading with your child can increase the positive impact it has on their development.


2. Vocab (AO6 words) and Terminology (AO2 words)

Each child has online homework three times every week using Quizlet, a website that supports their learning. Their Quizlet lists are 10 words that we have selected for them to learn that week and the link will appear on Show My Homework. The list may be to improve their vocabulary (AO6 words) or to improve their knowledge of terminology (AO2 words).


3. Cultural References

Our department is developing lists of cultural references that will help your child to prepare for study at GCSE and beyond. These will be found on Quizlet via Show My Homework. Example questions include: Who is Cupid? What is a phoenix? Who are the Muses?

  • How much homework should my child be doing?

The school’s homework schedule tells you on which days your child has English homework. With Quizlet lists, little and often works better to plant the words in your child’s long term memory.


  • Why does my child have to read at home?

Reading fiction is vital for your child’s development. We strongly recommend that your child reads for a minimum of 20 minutes every day. It is even more beneficial if an adult reads with them to check understanding and to answer any questions. Regular reading has been shown to increase children’s ability and progress across all subjects.


  • Are there any reading lists?
    • If your child is in Year 7 or Year 8, they should be reading books that are around their Accelerated Reader (ATOS) level. You can use this link to check the ATOS level of books:


  • If you child is in Year 9, they can still use the LRC to borrow books. There is a suggested reading list on the English Department website. There are many more useful links here:


  • What is my child studying in Year 7?

Your child follows a broad curriculum in order to identify their strengths and weaknesses as soon as possible. Following a successful trial last year, Year 7 begins with a collaborative unit with pupils in the role of forensic linguistic detectives. After the first break, we study a unit on the Gothic. Poetry and persuasive writing follow the December break and we finish the year with Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a class novel or play. It may be that your child’s class follows a slightly different order. Class teachers will both integrate and teach explicit grammar lessons. We also use software to assist pupils who have been identified as needing additional support with their literacy.


  • What is my child studying in Year 8?

We begin the year with a class novel (Trash by Andy Mulligan) and nature poetry. We then take two short terms, studying a selection of fiction, non-fiction and poetry on the topic of Survival. The final two short terms are spent studying Shakespeare’s The Tempest and a selection of extracts from Victorian writers, such as Bram Stoker and Jules Verne.


  • What is my child studying in Year 9?

We begin to prepare students more explicitly for their public exams, beginning with a study of Conflict Poetry and extracts from Dickens’ novels. After the winter break, pupils study a selection of fiction, non-fiction and poetry on the topic of Journeys. This selection covers a range of centuries and locations, in line with GCSE texts. We finish the year with Of Mice and Men and the GCSE poetry anthology, honing their literary analysis skills.


  • How do you assess my child?
    • Years 7 – 9 use the EDUQAS GCSE Assessment Objectives and Grades.
    • Your child’s teacher will set either a reading or writing assessment each half term. We moderate each assessment to make sure that each child’s grade is an accurate snapshot of their ability. Pupils also sit an exam at the end of the school year to make the process familiar.
    • Pupils in Year 7 and Year 8 are also assessed in the LRC with Accelerated Reader quizzes.


  • How can my child prepare for assessments and school exams?

Teachers will give instructions on Show My Homework on how to prepare for assessments but as a general guide your child should be reading widely, responding to teacher feedback, and using Quizlet to improve their vocabulary, terminology, and cultural literacy.

  • Are there any extra-curricular activities or trips?

Activities outside the classroom are delivered on a year by year basis. In the past, we have run: poetry workshops, a storytelling masterclass with Oxford University, trips to West End theatres, and collaborative sessions with Radley College. Our pupils are regularly successful in creative writing competitions, such as those run by Rotary International.


Key Stage 4

All pupils will follow a two year course in English Language and English Literature, gaining two GCSE qualifications.

The pupils will all be following the new GCSE courses and they will sit exams with WJEC EDUQAS. They will sit two exams for each qualification.


Key Stage 5


All pupils in the sixth form are following the WJEC EDUQAS specification in the combined English Language/Literature A-Level qualification. This is a two year course and all students will complete a coursework portfolio and sit three exams after two years in order to gain their qualification.


GCSE English

Curriculum Area:

English Language and English Literature

Curriculum Leader:

Miss Lorna Hutchison


More course information

KS5 English

Who do I see for more information?

Ms L Hutchison