Year 8 English

Unit Content

Unit 1

Novel Study

Students read and explore Andy Mulligan's novel Trash. They use this novel, which focuses on street children living in an unnamed city in the developing world, as a context in which to build their understanding of how to annotate a text and analyse it using point-evidence-explanation paragraphs.

Key knowledge developed:

  • Knowing how the author uses the linguistic and structural devices included in this unit's toolkit
  • Understanding the cultural context behind the novel, including an understanding of culture and poverty in the developing world
  • Understanding the importance of revision and retrieval practice

Key skills developed:

  • How to annotate an extract from the text with confidence
  • How to construct a series of point-evidence-explanation paragraphs focusing on character development

Assessment: Students complete an assessment in class in which they annotate an extract from the text, constructing a series of point-evidence-explanation paragraphs on the development of character in the extract. Assessment Point 1, in January, includes single-mark questions on devices studied for this unit and tests students' knowledge of quotations from the novel.

Unit 2

Creative Writing

Students learn to create carefully structured, purposeful writing using a graphic novel as inspiration. Students are introduced to key structural devices and build their vocabulary through the process of drafting and editing a graphic novel of their own. As part of this unit, students develop an understanding of the relationship between words and images as a way of building meaning.

Text studied: The Last Woman on Earth by Caroline Hadilaksono.

Key knowledge developed:

  • Understanding how writers create believable characters in text
  • Understanding how whole stories are structured
  • Understanding how images are used to convey meaning
  • Understanding how vocabulary and other linguistic devices can be used for effect

Key skills developed:

  • How to recognise and deploy linguistic and structural devices
  • How to craft, draft and edit a piece of creative writing
  • How to use advanced vocabulary confidently in creative writing

Assessment: Students are assessed at the end of the unit as they create their own short story in graphic form.

Unit 3


Students learn to read and explore a number of poems from different cultures, each text relating to the concepts of identity and belonging. They develop the skills required to compare given poems, building on knowledge of poetic forms that they gained in Year 7.

Texts studied include poems by George the Poet, Carole Satyamurti, Dean Atta, Caleb Femi, Grace Nichols, Choman Hardi, Moniza Alvi and Sujata Bhatt.

Key knowledge developed:

  • Understanding of the linguistic and structural devices a poet can use to create meaning
  • Understanding the context of a chosen poem and how the context contributes to its meaning

Key skills developed:

  • How to navigate, interpret and analyse a poem confidently
  • How to learn, recall and interpret key quotations from a poem
  • How to produce a clear, confident, succinct and personalised response to a poem, exploring different aspects of the text
  • How to compare poems on a common theme

Assessment: Students complete a formal written assessment in class at the end of the unit in which they are required to compare two of the poems they have studied. This assessment is in an extended essay format.

Unit 4

Shakespeare Study

Students develop an understanding of Shakespearean theatre by reading Much Ado About Nothing. They explore and evaluate how directors have chosen to present key scenes from the play. Students watch a complete adaptation of the work, learning how the play can be performed and how its characters are developed.

Key knowledge developed:

  • Understanding Shakespeare’s use of linguistic, structural and theatrical devices
  • Understanding how the context of Elizabethan society influenced the development of the text
  • Understanding how characters, plot and theme are developed across a Shakespearean comedy

Key skills developed:

  • How to navigate key scenes from the play
  • How to learn, recall and interpret key quotations from the play
  • How to produce a confidence, personalised response using a number of point-evidence-explanation paragraphs in response to a question on characterisation

Assessment: This unit is assessed as part of the second formal assessment. Students write an extended essay in response to a question based on an extract from the play. Since the assessment focuses on characterisation, students are required to comment on how a character developed, beyond the given extract, over the course of the whole play.

Unit 5

Modern Drama

Students explore a piece of contemporary drama and develop their understanding of theatrical forms. They discuss key themes and controversial ideas that are explored in the work. The unit concludes with a formal debate on some of the issues raised within the text.

Text studied: Noughts and Crosses, a play adapted by Dominic Cooke from Malorie Blackman’s novel about race and segregation.

Key knowledge developed:

  • Understanding the linguistic, structural and theatrical devices that contemporary playwrights use to build meaning
  • Understanding how characters, plots and themes are developed throughout the play

Key skills developed:

  • How to select key information from the text
  • How to construct a line of argument using a theatrical work as a stimulus
  • How to articulate ideas using formal debate conventions.

Assessment: Speaking and listening skills are assessed at the end of the unit, when students work in small groups to debate the relevance of a key theme from the play in the context of modern society.