Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by author John Boyne, is an opportunity for Year 7 students to explore the concept of identity whilst developing their inference skills. This development is partly facilitated through the teaching of historical context in relation to cultural and religious identity, but also via the encouragement of students to explore and understand the text from their own perspective. A focus on building creative writing skills allows students to consider additional viewpoints in order to help develop empathy and compassion. In addition to this students are expected to be apply subject specific knowledge through analysis. A concentration on narrative conventions and character archetypes provide a strong foundation onto which other KS3 units will build.
Following on from the first unit the Poetry Anthology allows students to continue their exploration into identity and the different ways in which this is presented. Throughout the unit students consider works from a number of different poets and the variety of contextual factors that influenced them. A focus on knowledge and the application of poetic technique (including form and structure) will enable students to further hone their analytical writing skills. The overall aim of this unit is to provide pupils with a foundational knowledge of poetry, whilst also encouraging them to appreciate the importance of tolerance and understanding in a societal context.
The works of William Shakespeare are intrinsically embedded within the study of English. With this in mind it is vitally important that we are familiarising students with these texts throughout their time at Robert Smyth Academy – starting with Richard III in Year 7. This unit focuses on dramatic form and historical context, which will ultimately support students in their study of Romeo and Juliet in Year 9. Whilst providing a foundational knowledge of Shakespearean language, this historical play also enables students to further explore the concept of identity. With regard to writing skill, the students focus primarily on the application of descriptive technique and use this knowledge to add to their understanding of character archetypes.
Democracy is at the heart of British culture, and it is fundamental to an understanding of society; Animal Farm allows students to engage with and build an understanding of these ideas. In conjunction with this, studying the novella also allows students the opportunity to consider and understand their identity within their own society. Animal Farm is filled with symbolism, used to present the story and ideas about morality. Understanding and decoding symbolism is a key skill that students will build upon in later years and which will allow students to fully engage with texts throughout their lives.
The Sherlock Holmes unit focuses on the presentation of crime and discrimination in the form of mystery writing, whilst also incorporating elements of media studies. This allows students to consider different forms, purposes and styles of writing. There is a focus on using language to create tension and to persuade; developing some of the key skills later needed in Key Stage 4 study. Emphasis on characterisation and descriptive technique will also allow knowledge and skills acquired in previous study to be applied and embedded.
The Blood Brothers unit focuses on society and the class system whilst also taking the opportunity to familiarise students with modern plays and their features. Students are able to further develop their knowledge of conflict and apply it to a different story and form in order to strengthen their understanding. Key themes within this modern play are social class, family ties and our individual impact on society. These themes will be returned to and developed whilst studying An Inspector Calls at GCSE level.