Reading and writing are the fundamental skills that allow us to be productive learners in all subject areas. The English teams’ vision is to develop independent readers who love literature and who are creative responsive writers who can express themselves in all written forms. We value all students’ development and work collaboratively to progress students’ literacy skills which will enable them to eventually achieve qualifications and start their career pathways to reach their individual aspirations.

Our KS3 and KS4 at ACE sections are where you can learn about what we do and our Exams section has links to all of the exam boards and qualifications we offer.

We aim to enable and empower our young people to actively participate and communicate in their communities and with the wider world. We aim to open the doors to education and give access to life-long learning and the world of work. Our varied strategies and approach to literacy impart the skills our students need to enable them to achieve qualifications and begin the journey to their chosen careers and aspirations. In order to meet the varying needs of our students, we offer a wide range of qualifications, ranging from Entry Level to GCSE. For more information about the qualifications we offer, click the links in our qualifications section.



All students are taught in mixed ability and mixed key stage three classes. Teachers use baseline assessments on entry to ACE to guide their teaching choices of schemes of learning that will be taught during each half term period. Reading and spelling age data is also collected 3 times per year to ensure progress in these fundamental skills is being made and interventions will be implemented as appropriate. Cognitive assessments will be conducted should any specific needs arise and require further investigation. Consequently, the English department work closely with the SENCo to facilitate exams access arrangements where necessary and to ensure the best possible outcomes for our students. Students are regularly assessed and given SMART targets to improve their own skills in English.

Emphasis is placed on reading skills to improve all students’ reading age. All written work encompasses text as stimulus for the production of writing, exploring different forms and structures. Speaking and listening is embedded throughout the curriculum enabling students to explore vocabulary use, enhance thinking skills to develop independent learners. At ACE, we know the power of oral rehearsal as a tool for developing our students’ ability to explore new ideas.

KS4 English at ACE

Year 10 and 11 students are taught separately and in small groups of no more than 12. Many of our cohort have gaps in their education owing to their personal circumstances and often lack confidence in English as a subject. Therefore, we aim to re-build our students’ relationship with the English and we enter all of our students in KS4 for at least 1 qualification. The choice of qualification(s) will depend on an individual’s ability and physical and mental health. These include:

  • Edexcel / Pearson Entry Level Functional Skills in English Language at Level 1,2 or 3. There are multiple windows to sit this exam throughout years 9-11.
  • AQA Functional is in English at Level 1 or 2. Students can sit these exams in years 10 and 11.
  • AQA GCSE English Language, AQA GCSE English Literature. These are ‘terminal’ exams and can only be sat for the first time at the end of year 11.

Where possible, we will enter students for other exam boards if required. The English department’s vision is that every student leaves ACE with a qualification that is suitable for their ability and future aspirations.

KS3 Texts

Skellig – David Almond

Buddy – Nigel Hinton

White Fang – Jack London

Partners in Crime – Nigel Hinton

Bloodline – Kevin Brooks

The Bone Room – Anne Cassidy

Twocking – Eric Brown

I See You Baby – Kevin Brooks & Catherine Forde

Firebug – Eric Brown

The Chain – Keith Gray

Over The Line – Tom Palmer

Dogs Don’t Tell Jokes – Louis Sachar

Holes – Louis Sachar

Devil For Sale – E.E. Richardson

Snakebite – Robert Swindells

Snapshot – Robert Swindells

Witness – Ann Cassidy

Killswap – James Lovegrove


KS4 – Accessible Shakespeare

R&J – Manga

The Tempest (abridged)

Frankenstein – retold by Pauline Francis

Shakespeare’s Animated Tales

GCSE Literature texts - Overview

3.1.1 Shakespeare
Students will study one play from the list of six set texts. Students should study the whole text. Choose one of:

  • Macbeth
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • The Tempest
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Julius Caesar

3.1.2 The 19th-century novel:
Students will study one novel from the list of seven set texts. Students should study the whole text. Choose one of:

  • Robert Louis Stevenson The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
  • Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol
  • Charles Dickens Great Expectations
  • Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre
  • Mary Shelley Frankenstein
  • Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle The Sign of Four

3.2.1 Modern texts
Students will study one from a choice of 12 set texts, which include post-1914 prose fiction and drama. Students should study the whole text. Choose one of:


  • JB Priestley: An Inspector Calls
  • Willy Russell: Blood Brothers
  • Alan Bennett: The History Boys
  • Dennis Kelly: DNA
  • Simon Stephens: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (play script)
  • Shelagh Delaney: A Taste of Honey


  • William Golding: Lord of the Flies
  • AQA Anthology: Telling Tales
  • George Orwell: Animal Farm
  • Zazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • Meera Syal: Anita and Me
  • Stephen Kelman: Pigeon English

Poetry – Study 1 cluster:

Love and Relationships

GCSE Literature Texts taught at ACE:


  • Romeo & Juliet
  • Macbeth

19th Century Novel:

  • A Christmas Carol

20th Century Novel:

  • Animal Farm
  • Conflict

Our text choices are based on two key areas: Firstly, which texts are taught most frequently in Plymouth secondary schools. Secondly, on suitability for our student cohort which consists of young people with significant vulnerabilities and mental health needs. Where a student arrives having studied other texts, the department will endeavour to facilitate.