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About Us

Our over-riding aim is to ensure that each student, whatever their ability, should reach their full potential and aim to make four levels of progress at Aylesbury Vale Academy. Developing students’ English and Literacy skills is, of course, fundamental to unlocking their potential across the academic curriculum and beyond into the world of work. The English Department strives to foster a positive attitude towards English by presenting it as an interesting, creative, challenging and useful subject.

Students will become fluent, independent and critical readers of all kinds of texts, who question and reflect on what they have read and who enjoy reading for pleasure. Students will study a variety of texts to explore language and meaning, to acquire information, gain further insight into their own and other cultures, and to extend their personal and social awareness.

Students will become confident, articulate writers who understand that writing is a means of learning, shaping experience, exploring ideas and language, and expressing ideas and feelings. Students will be able to write for a variety of purposes and audiences and will learn to appreciate the benefits of drafting, redrafting and proof-reading.

Students will recognise the power of talk as a means of exploring language and ideas, persuading, and gaining confidence. Students will learn to be good listeners, able to appreciate the views of others as well as articulating their own.

On this page you will find the latest news about what the English department has been doing as well as some of our students' most notable accomplishments. Please check back regularly to see what's new.

The English Department Team

Curriculum Leader/Assistant Principal: Mr R Cooper

“I remember loving books from an early age and being very happy listening to stories read aloud.  As a young teenager, that feeling slipped away… there seemed so many other things to want to do.  But then, an English teacher introduced me to the poetry of Philip Larkin and the short stories of Raymond Carver: since then, I’ve not stopped reading!

English encourages us to engage with thoughts and feelings, with Shakespeare being the undisputed master in my opinion.  In a world where today’s students have a 50% chance of living to the age of 100 and will likely have multiple careers as they adapt to compete with new technologies, empathy is going to be in high demand!”

Vice Principal/Teacher: Mr G Gibson

"I graduated from the University of Dundee 1997 with a degree in English Literature. After completing a certificate of English Language teaching to adults, I travelled to Japan where I taught in a private language school in central Tokyo teaching students with ages ranging from two to eighty two. 

After four years as a teacher and Director of Studies in Tokyo, I returned to the UK where I embarked on a PGCE at Goldsmiths, University of London.  I taught for ten years in schools in South West London before moving to an upper school in Leighton Buzzard.

I have held a range of roles including Head of English and more recently, Assistant Headteacher in charge of teaching and learning. My passion has always been the development of students as leaners and if my career has taught me one thing it is that we are all lifelong learners.

Away from school, I enjoy watching rugby and being with my family."

Teacher: Ms E Kitter 

“I have always been passionate about English; this is a subject where you can be both analytical and creative. Nothing beats sharing this passion with students and helping them to understand the true power of language.”

Teacher: Mrs H Lamberti


Teacher: Miss K Marshall

 Teacher: Mrs J Thomas
 Teacher: Mr P Walker
 Teacher: Miss D Clohessy
 Teacher: Miss M O'Loughlin
 Teacher: Mrs L Henry-Cross
Teacher: Miss L Barrett


Key Stage 3

Year 7 English

Building on skills from Key Stage 2, year 7 pupils study a range of different texts include classic and modern texts, fiction and non-fiction writing and poetry. Students are assessed using Steps to Progress for reading and writing to determine whether they are emerging, developing, securing or mastering in each skill, and given clear targets to work on each half term.  One lesson per week is devoted to developing literacy skills and involves a visit to the library for reading time.

Half Termly Topics

Writer’s Workshop
Descriptive Writing

A Christmas Carol
Character Essay

Year 7 Novel
Extract and whole text analysis

Starting Shakespeare
Research Booklet

Poetry, please!
Analysis question

Power of Words
Persuasive writing

Year 8 English

The Steps to Progress model continues in Year 8 English, with much emphasis on developing the ability to critically evaluate texts and analyse how the writer creates effects for the reader. Pupils study Shakespeare in much more depth as well as extracts of 19th century writing.  To support pupils learning, the emphasis of homework is on researching the social and historical contexts of the writers and settings of texts to gain a deeper understanding of the themes and writer’s choice of language.  As with Year 7, a lesson per week is given over to working on literacy skills.

Half Termly Topics

Year 8 Novel

Extract and whole text analysis


Persuasive Writing

Much Ado About Nothing

Character Essay


Narrative writing

Creating Characters Poetry


Our Day Out

Class Debate

Year 9 English

As pupils prepare for their GCSE courses in English Language and English Literature, the Year 9 curriculum aims to ensure they have secured all of the skills they need to be successful. The focus is developing examination skills and increasing the level of challenge in the texts they read. Pupils study a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts and a themed selection of 19th Century fiction and non-fiction. Detailed study of Shakespearean tragedy serves as preparation for the GCSE texts in Year 10.  Pupil performance is reported using the outgoing Key Stage 3 National Curriculum Levels for reading and writing but regular marking and feedback is given using the new GCSE grades 9-1.



Poetry Comparison and Unseen


Descriptive Writing

Shakespeare Study: Romeo and Juliet

Character Essay

Victorian Fiction

Analysis of extracts

Journeys: 1900 and beyond

Non-fiction writing

GCSE Spoken Language

Persuasive speech

Key Stage 4

GCSE English Language and English Literature

AQA GCSE English Language and English Literature 

English Language Paper 1

Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing

English Language Paper 2

Viewpoints and Perspectives

Non-examination assessment

Spoken Language

English Literature Paper 1:

Shakespeare and the 19th-century novel

English Literature Paper 2:

Modern Texts and Poetry

Written exam: 1 hour 45

80 marks

50% of GCSE

Section A: Reading

·         One literature fiction text

Section B: Writing

·         Descriptive or narrative writing

Written exam: 1 hour 45

80 marks

50% of GCSE

Section A : Reading

·         One non-fiction and one literary non-fiction text

Section B: Writing

·         Writing to present a viewpoint


·         Presenting

·         Responding to questions and feedback

·         Use of Standard English

Teacher set throughout course

Separate endorsement

(0% of GCSE)

Written exam: 1 hour 45

64 marks

40% of GCSE

Section A :Shakespeare

·         Macbeth

Section B: The 19th-century novel

·         A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Written exam: 2 hours 15

96 marks

60% of GCSE

Section A : Modern Texts

·         An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestley

Section B: Poetry

·         Power and Conflict from AQA Anthology

Section C: Unseen poetry

AO’s assessed:

EngLang 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

AO’s assessed:

EngLang 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

AO’s assessed

EngLang 7, 8, 9

AO’s assessed

EngLit 1, 2, 3, 4

AO’s assessed

EngLit 1, 2, 3, 4

In Year 10 and Year 11, students study for the AQA English Literature and English Language qualifications.  These are two separate GCSEs.  The exact route through the course is adapted to meet the needs of each year group and the skills of the teaching staff.

The exact nature of the skills assessed are shown below:

GCSE English Language Assessment Objectives

·         AO1:

o    identify and interpret explicit and implicit information and ideas

o    select and synthesise evidence from different texts

·         AO2: Explain, comment on and analyse how writers use language and structure to achieve effects and influence readers, using relevant subject terminology to support their views

·         AO3: Compare writers’ ideas and perspectives, as well as how these are conveyed, across two or more texts

·         AO4: Evaluate texts critically and support this with appropriate textual references

·         AO5: Communicate clearly, effectively and imaginatively, selecting and adapting tone, style and register for different forms, purposes and audiences. Organise information and ideas, using structural and grammatical features to support coherence and cohesion of texts

·         AO6: Candidates must use a range of vocabulary and sentence structures for clarity, purpose and effect, with accurate spelling and punctuation. (This requirement must constitute 20% of the marks for each specification as a whole.)

·         AO7: Demonstrate presentation skills in a formal setting

·         AO8: Listen and respond appropriately to spoken language, including to questions and feedback on presentations

·         AO9: Use spoken Standard English effectively in speeches and presentations.

AO’s 7, 8 and 9 are assessed in Spoken Language only

GCSE English Literature Assessment Objectives

·         AO1: Read, understand and respond to texts. Students should be able to:

o    maintain a critical style and develop an informed personal response

o    use textual references, including quotations, to support and illustrate interpretations.

·         AO2: Analyse the language, form and structure used by a writer to create meanings and effects, using relevant subject terminology where appropriate.

·         AO3: Show understanding of the relationships between texts and the contexts in which they were written.

·         AO4: Use a range of vocabulary and sentence structures for clarity, purpose and effect, with accurate spelling and punctuation.


Key Stage 5

At KS5 we have a Year 13 English Literature group completing the AQA A Level English Literature (B) course.

Unit 1

Literary Genres: Aspects of Tragedy

40% of A level

Written paper: 2 hours 30 minutes, closed book, 75 marks.

At the core of all the texts students will study is a tragic hero or heroine who is flawed in some way, who suffers and causes suffering to others. Some tragic features will be more in evidence in some texts than in others and students will need to understand how particular aspects of the tragic genre are used and how they work in the three chosen texts. The absence of an ‘aspect’ can be as significant as its presence.

Texts studied:

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Othello by William Shakespeare

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Unit 2 Texts and Genres: Elements of Crime Writing

40% of A level

Written paper: 3 hours, open book, 75 marks.

Some of the texts in this unit pre-date the crime fiction genre that emerged as a recognisable literary genre in the mid-19th century and with academic recognition in the 20th century. However, in all the texts a significant crime drives the narrative and the execution and consequences of the crime are fundamentally important to the way the text is structure.

Text Studied:

A collection of poems

Atonement by Ian McEwan

One further text

Unit 3 Theory and Independence

20% of A-level: assessed by teachers; moderated by AQA

Study of two texts: one poetry and one prose text, informed by study of the Critical anthology.

Two essays of 1,250 – 1,500 words, each responding to a different text and linking to a different aspect of the Critical anthology.

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