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English and Drama

The English Faculty (including Drama)

Faculty ethos:

The faculty will strive to ensure that the learning environment in English is positive, supportive and purposeful.  All pupils will be encouraged to meet their full potential and achieve the very best grades possible. We aim to impart an ability to analyse and create texts, whilst instilling a keen sense of creativity and imagination.

Curriculum overview:

  • KS3 – 10 lessons per cycle (plus 1 additional Literacy lesson).
  • KS4 – 10 lessons per cycle.

Topics covered:

In Years 7, 8 and 9 our aim is to develop the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills needed to succeed in English. The focus throughout KS3 is on creativity and developing a passion for the subject which, alongside the skills developed, will support pupils when they come to the start of their GCSE course. This is done through a variety of engaging texts from the 19th to the 21st Century, and Shakespeare. Each year group will also complete an independent project, designed to develop their knowledge beyond the English classroom. Students follow the Accelerated Reader programme, which indicates a reading age for every student. This allows students to select books that are appropriate to their level, whilst giving teachers more information with which to plan effective lessons and monitor progress.

Year 7 – Each unit in Year 7 is designed to include the skills learnt in primary school, whilst also providing the next step in developing an appreciation for both English language and literature. Utilising several of the skills developed in Key Stage 2, pupils work in teams to explore linguistic devices in a range of different texts. They begin to develop their analytical skills by reading A Christmas Carol and The Tempest, where they will have the opportunity to both read and perform sections of these texts. Pupils will also explore poetry from a range of different cultures, before creating their own poetry. They will also look at a range of extracts from both fiction and non-fiction texts, developing their understanding and use of more challenging vocabulary.

Year 8 – Pupils continue the development of their analytical skills by reading The Hunger Games, exploring the dystopian genre. Alongside the reading of the text, pupils will also explore key themes within the novel, reading a range of non-fiction texts to develop a wider understanding of these ideas. Pupils will also read The Hound of the Baskervilles and other examples of detective writing, where pupils will have the opportunity to create their own detective fiction. Building on their work from Year 7, pupils will read a selection of fiction and non-fiction texts written by a range of authors from a range of different cultures. Pupils will also analyse and perform sections from Hamlet whilst exploring links to teenage culture in the 21st century.

Year 9 – Much of this year is designed to equip students with the skills required to successfully access GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature, building on their learning from Years 7 and 8. We begin by reading Of Mice and Men, focusing analytically on characters whilst also discussing many of the cultural issues the novel explores. We move on to look at war poetry, focusing primarily on World War One, with opportunities to explore other conflicts too. This is then used as the basis for a piece of creative writing. The dystopia unit from Year 8 is developed further by reading Animal Farm with a greater consideration of politics; encouraging pupils to formulate their own opinions about Orwell’s text. As we move towards the end of the year, pupils will focus on analysing the structure of short stories – an assessment focus of the English Language GCSE. Finally, pupils will read and perform sections of Othello, focusing on analytical and cultural aspects of the text.


The vast majority of pupils at Burnage will take the following GCSEs:

  • GCSE English Language (AQA)
  • GCSE English Literature (AQA)

We also offer AQA Step Up to English Qualifications at Silver and Gold level for some pupils.

At KS4, pupils will build on the reading, writing and speaking and listening skills they have developed at KS3. Although studying for two different qualifications, a number of the skills are transferable which means both exam courses are taught concurrently. Much of the content for the exams will be covered in Year 10. Year 11 will be focussed on perfecting exam skills and revising the texts to help pupils succeed in the exams.

GCSE English Language is assessed by two exams taken at the end of Year 11. There is no longer any controlled assessment for this course.

  • Explorations in creative reading and writing; 50% of GCSE grade
  • Writer’s viewpoints and perspectives; 50% of GCSE grade

Both examinations have a reading and a writing section. The reading sections of both papers test how well pupils can understand, interpret and analyse fiction and non-fiction texts, from the 19th Century to the present day. The writing sections of both papers test how well pupils can write effectively for a particular purpose and audience, how well they can structure their ideas and the accuracy of their writing.

English Literature is assessed by two exams taken at the end of Year 11. There is no longer any controlled assessment for this course. 

  • Shakespeare and the 19th Century Novel; 40% of the GCSE Grade

Pupils will study two texts in preparation for this exam; Macbeth (Shakespeare) and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (19th-century novel).  They will be reading, interpreting and analysing the themes, characters and language in the whole texts.

  • Modern texts and poetry; 60% of the GCSE grade

Pupils will study a modern play called DNA and a ‘conflict’ themed anthology of poems.  They will build their analysis skills so that they are able to interpret and explain their impressions of a main ‘unseen’ poem in this exam. Pupils will compare this main unseen poem with a second unseen poem. 

The English Faculty:

Mr J Shepherd – Head of English

Ms E Brown – Second in English

Ms H Roberts – Second in English

Ms E Meyer – Head of Milner Literacy Initiative

Ms A Pearson – English Teacher / SEN Coordinator

Mr B Shortland – English Teacher

Mr M Philips – English Teacher

Mr M Spann – English Teacher

Ms L Guisasola – English Teacher

Mr C Lewis – English Teacher

Ms M Riley – English Teacher

Ms E Simaei – English Teacher/EAL Teacher

Ms N Watt – English Teacher/SEN Teacher

Ms H Carter – English Teacher / Deputy Headteacher

Drama Department

Department ethos:

We ensure that all students are given the opportunity to express their creative abilities and understand the importance of creative subjects.  As a department we firmly believe that drama should be seen as an academic, yet practical experience.  Drama allows students to interact in a practical environment that helps them develop verbal and nonverbal communication skills, boost their confidence and build their teamwork skills.  These vital transferable skills will set all students in good stead for whatever path they choose in the future. 

Curriculum overview:

  • KS3 – 3 lessons per cycle.
  • KS4 – 7 lessons per cycle, plus additional revision sessions.

Options offered at KS4:

  • GCSE Drama (OCR)

Topics covered:


At Key Stage 3 students will develop a range of skills that will build on prior knowledge and will prepare them with the skills they need to move on to Key Stage 4 Drama.  All schemes of work are flexible and can be tailored to meet specific needs for each class.

Topics covered include:

  • Year 7 – Introduction to drama, Storytelling and exploring drama skills, Building tension
  • Year 8 – Introduction to movement, Greek Theatre, Scripted performance
  • Year 9 – Exploring a play, Storytelling, Exploring Genre and Performance Style, Exploring a range of practitioners, Preparation for GCSE Drama (explore key components from the GCSE Drama specification)


GCSE Drama consists of three components, including a final exam:

  • Component 1 – Devising Drama 30%
  • Students will be given 10 stimuli that will be a song, an image, a person, poem, etc. Students must chose a stimulus and create a performance that can last between 5-15mins long.
  • Students will be assessed on: Their performance; A portfolio with evidence of the process and the decisions they made throughout the process; Evaluation of their own group work.
  • Component 2 – Presenting and Performing Text 30%
  • Students will be given a text that they must explore in detail.  They will perform a number of extracts from the text that will reflect their own artistic vision.  They will make artistic decisions such as; set, costume, lights, props and sound in order to create a finished ‘professional’ performance.
  • An external examiner will visit the centre to assess the final performances.
  • Component 3 – Performance and Response 40%
  • This is the final exam.  It is a written exam split into two main areas:
  • Students must study a performance text sent from the exam board.  This section will have short and medium length answers that will assess the knowledge and understanding of how drama is developed and performed.
  • Students must analyse and evaluate a live theatre performance they have seen using accurate subject specific terminology.

As part of the course, students will experience live theatre and will be given the opportunity to take part in performances where they will perform in some of the country’s most prestigious and professional theatres. 


Music is an important part of the curriculum that has been built into all drama lessons.  Students will gain a range of musical experiences here at Burnage Academy.  As part of their Drama lessons, students will layer music on top of their performances to give it a professional finish.  They will explore a range of genres that will fit with the style of performance they are creating.

As part of the music curriculum, students are given the opportunity to learn and experience a wide range of instruments taught to them by highly experienced and professional musicians.

The Drama Department

Mr R Lawther – Head of Drama

Ms A Boyd – Teacher of Drama (Head of G.T. I., Music, Careers and Vocational Education)

Ms K Horne – Teacher of Drama/SENCO

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