sandbach high school

General information

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” 
― Philip Pullman 

Transition to high school is the next step of every student’s journey. Throughout Years 7, 8 and 9 our pupils study an array of inspirational, thought-provoking and relevant topics and texts, from a range of times, through which they learn a repertoire of skills in reading, writing and speaking and listening. These skills not only benefit students at GCSE and A-Level, but also in all their future endeavours. Our aim is for students to learn English through the enjoyment of the subject, their lessons and independent work and through their involvement in extra-curricular activities. 

By the time students enter Year 10 and 11, our primary aim is to develop our students’ appreciation of language and literature, building on the skills that they have already gained in Key Stage 3. Students are offered a rich diet of extra-curricular opportunities, from theatre trips to national competitions, so they can extend their learning outside of the classroom. 

We aim to promote a seven-year study of English at Sandbach High School; we are extremely proud of how many students choose to stay with us and study one or more of the subjects that we offer. In our college, students choose from three exciting and popular subjects at A Level: English Literature, English Language and Film Studies. We are also able to support students who need to have another go at the GCSE in English Language; while many students on this course are looking to gain the Grade 4 that eluded them on their first attempt, recent entries have included students that have successfully achieved a Grade 8 or 9 on the second attempt, in order to comply with university course requirements.  

Curriculum Lead

Craig Batty (Curriculum Leader, English) 



Curriculum statement  

Through an enriching study of English, we aim to promote: 

  • An appreciation of literature and language in KS3 
  • The importance of Shakespeare in all KS3 years through a thematic approach 
  • An exposure to a wide and enriching range of texts, authors and themes 
  • An appreciation of the importance of media, film and spoken language  
  • At GCSE, a ‘thread’ or ‘pattern’, that weaves all our chosen texts together  
  • An in-depth study of modern drama texts at GCSE, to pave the way for A-Level Literature
  • A rigorous approach to KS5, starting with the induction project


Our curriculum choices are guided by: 

  • A belief in teachers teaching what they know, love and are passionate about 
  • Fostering cultural capital and a love of the subject 
  • Stretch, challenge and support at all levels  
  • Providing pathways to future study of the subject(s) at post-16 and post-18 


Studying English with us reflects the school’s visions and values in the following ways: 

  • We look to provide challenge and support for a largely high-ability and aspirational cohort 
  • We offer a range of learning experiences that enable students to engage actively with the world around them. 
  • We provide opportunities for all students to make strong progress and access the highest grades in terminal exams 


Key Stage 3 Curriculum Sequence 






Transition scheme – genres, authors and protagonists  

Shakespeare – heroes and villains 

19th Century – “Monsters and Machines” 


Myths and Legends 

Campaign for Change – poetry 

Shakespeare – full text study 


Relationships Poetry 

Freedom, rights, diversity 

Purple Hibiscus 


19th Century voices 

Anita and Me 

Conflict Through the Ages 

Key Stage 4 Curriculum Sequence 

The texts that we study for GCSE English Literature are outlined below. The texts, writings styles and genre conventions that we study for GCSE English Language are weaved throughout the two-year programme of study: 


YEAR 10 

YEAR 11 


Power & Conflict Poetry 1 

Power & Conflict Poetry 3 


Modern Drama – An Inspector Calls 

Shakespeare’s Macbeth 


Power & Conflict Poetry 2 

Shakespeare’s Macbeth 


19th Century Novel – A Christmas Carol or Jekyll and Hyde 

Examination preparation 

Key Stage 5 Curriculum Sequence 






Textual variations and representations 


Introduction to Crime & Tragedy 

American Film since 2005 


Children’s language development 


Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller 

The Ballad of Reading Gaol – Oscar Wilde 

British Film since 1995 


Language diversity and change 


The poetry of John Keats 

The poetry of Crabbe and Browning 

Film Movements: Silent Cinema 


Methods of language analysis 


Exploring the Critical Anthology 

Atonement – Ian McEwan 

Film Movements: Experimental Cinema 


Language Investigation 


Shakespeare’s Othello: the play on the page and in performance 



At Key Stage 4 we adhere to the following specifications: 


AQA English Language: https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/gcse/english-language-8700/specification-at-a-glance  


AQA English Literature: https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/gcse/english-literature-8702/specification-at-a-glance. 




At Key Stage 5 we adhere to the following specifications: 

AQA A Level English Language: https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/as-and-a-level/english-language-7701-7702/specification-at-a-glance 

AQA A Level English Literature (Specification B – ‘Crime Writing’ and ‘Aspects of Tragedy’): https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/as-and-a-level/english-literature-b-7716-7717/specification-at-a-glance 

WJEC Film Studies: https://www.wjec.co.uk/qualifications/film-studies-as-a-level/#tab_overview  

Wider Curriculum

In English we offer as many extra-curricular opportunities as we can. In addition to the whole-school magazine The Voice, we have a regular reading group called ‘Booked In’, as well as a Departmental Newsletter which is published half-termly. We also offer a regular creative writing club and have just appointed our first ever ‘Poet Laureate’: Harriet Ashley (Year 10) 


Recent trips have included: 

  • Blood Brothers at the Lowry Theatre, Salford 
  • War Horse at the Regent Theatre, Hanley 
  • GCSE Poetry Live! at the Palace Theatre, Manchester 


Every two years we run the Battlefields visit to Belgium and France in partnership with the History Department. The most recent visit was in February 2020. 

Useful Links

“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” (J.K Rowling) 

How to support your child with their study of English: 


Year 7, 8, 9: 

  1. Reading for pleasure: encourage your child to read frequently and widely. If this is a difficult ask, start small with short stories and focus on things they are interested in (e.g. dance, sport etc.). There are lots of recommendations our our brand-new KS3 ‘Padlet’: https://padlet.com/SandbachHighSchoolEnglishDepartment/vww0mwzlkxrrmq9d  
  1. Familiarise yourself with their in-class studies: for each topic that your child studies, they will have an accompanying topic sheet which details their learning and associated vocabulary. Discuss these and quiz your child at home. 
  1. Watch the news and discuss current affairs: a lot of what we study in English has links to the outside world. If your child is equipped with an understanding of the wider world, they will be able to discuss the texts that we study more readily. 
  1. Get them writing. Encourage your child to write at home, and perhaps even get involved in national writing competitions. 
  1. Top up their skills. If you notice that your child needs to work on some elements of their literacy (e.g. spelling), then there are tonnes of resources online to support this such as BBC Bitesize. 



GCSE English Language and Literature 

  1. Encourage them to read as often as possible. Fiction or non-fiction are both equally useful; if it’s something that your child is interested in then even better!  
  1. Watch or listen to the news. So many of the topics that we cover have links to the wider world, while we also explore the context that underpins the literature texts that we study. 
  1. Help them to develop their own opinions. One way to do this is to look at the ‘comment’ section of a broadsheet newspaper (e.g. The Guardian, The Times) and see how writers use language to get their opinions across.  
  1. Reading for Meaning: Ask your child to explain, in their own words, the plot of the book/text that they are currently studying. In addition, to check your child is absorbing what they are reading, pause to ask them occasional questions about characters and events in the book.  
  1. Seeing literature as more than just a book to be read. Look out for film or stage adaptations of famous texts – many of these are available for free online!  





A Level Literature 

  1. Encourage students to watch, or go and see, productions of plays or films for set texts. This would be a great activity for you to do as a family. Allowing students to watch a production of ‘Othello’, or watching the film ‘Atonement’ together will really allow students to grow familiar with basic plot but also develop an appreciation for creative expression through direction and staging. 
  1. Test your child on quotations. Literature requires students to have a good knowledge of all set texts studied, especially ‘Othello’ as this is a closed book examination. Practising reciting quotations, or testing your child on their quotations, would be a great way for you to enhance your child’s knowledge of the texts studied. 
  1. Set time aside for reading as a family. This is a great way to ensure that your child is engaging with the expected reading and is a fantastic skill that will allow your child to tackle the ‘unseen’ prose aspects of the course. In Literature, students have to read a wide range of Crime literature, therefore, if you were to set aside time for reading as a family, this would help to promote reading for pleasure, which is an invaluable skill for their success on the course. 
  1. Create a space for revision and quotations. As already stated, a strong knowledge of the set texts is invaluable for students to ensure that they are confident and prepared for any examination question. Try to have an area dedicated to quotations, or timelines, which will help students to build their knowledge of the texts and key quotations. 
  1. Encourage your child to engage with the English Department Padlet for wider reading. This is a resource which has been created by the English Department to help your child to complete wider reading for Literature: 



A Level Language 

  1. Encourage your child to engage with current affairs by reading newspapers, or online articles. Students will have to complete a lot of non-fiction reading for the course, so this would be highly beneficial. Also, discussing these articles with your child would be really beneficial, as it will test and develop their understanding. 
  1. Test your child on theorist. A Level Language requires students to have a broad range of knowledge of theorists and critical theory, therefore, it would be beneficial for you to spend your time putting together and completing theory quizzes with your child. 
  1. One aspect of the course requires students to look at child language acquisition. If you have any young children in the family, or in the wider family, it would be good for your child to learn and investigate their acquisition of language and how this is developed by the parent. Alternatively, there is a fantastic series called ‘Babies’ available on NETFLIX that follows children as they acquire language. 
  1. Encourage your child to engage with the English Department Padlet for wider reading. This is a resource which has been created by the English Department to help your child to complete wider reading Language. Encourage your child to engage with the English Department Padlet for wider reading. This is a resource which has been created by the English Department to help your child to complete wider reading for Language: https://en-gb.padlet.com/sandbachhighschoolenglishdepartment/1w1p130fc48fbd17 
  1. Create space for your child to read and revise. As you know, the A Level Language course requires students to have a strong knowledge of theory and theorists. It would be great for you to create a space in your house for your child to display theories and theorists in order to help them with their memory. 


A Level Film Studies 

  1. Read Film publications: Encourage your child to keep up-to-date with new releases and to read high quality publications. Little White Lies is a current favourite among year 12 students and a lot of their articles are available online! 
  1. Watch 'around' the films we study: Watch other films by the director that your child is currently studying, or from the same genre. 
  1. Watch YouTube video essays: There's a wealth of resources on YouTube - watch a video essay about certain genres, styles, film movements, films and directors. 
  1. Watch as many films as possible: watch widely, particularly independent cinema as opposed to mainstream blockbusters, either at home or at the cinema. Home Cinema (in Manchester) often has interesting exhibitions, screenings and events. 
  1. Suggested Reading: Encourage your child to engage with the English Department Padlet for wider reading. This is a resource which has been created by the English Department to help your child to complete wider reading for Film Studies: https://en-gb.padlet.com/sandbachhighschoolenglishdepartment/1w1p130fc48fbd17 


“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates' loot on Treasure Island and best of all; you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.” 
― Walt Disney 

For regular updates on everything that we do in English, please follow us on Twitter: @SHSEnglishDep