February 14, 2021

KS3 English Explained

KS3 marks a new stage of learning. This article explores what you should expect from KS3 English, regardless of whether you are a student or a teacher.

How Is KS3 English Taught?

A core subject that leads to a mandatory GCSE, English will typically be taught in ability sets which is different from most other KS3 subjects. Regardless of the set or stream, the curriculum remains the same. However, the higher sets work at a higher level. In contrast, lower sets are given more support, particularly with complex concepts.

Since 2009, there have been no national exams that are part of KS3 English. Instead, both students and teachers are given more freedom in terms of assessments. Although there will usually be at least one formal assessment, usually at the end of the year.

Since there is no formal assessment, teachers will have different goals to determine the progress that students have made. For instance, for the English language, this could include assessing whether a student can complete an imaginative piece of writing that is both thoughtful and interesting. The spoken language might be assessed on whether a student can respond and listen well to others. This could include when working in groups as well as pairs and whether they can comment, make suggestions, or ask questions. Or, English lit could be assessed by checking whether a student can see how a text fits with a historical setting.

What Will be Learned?

The aim of KS3 English is to ensure that students do achieve a high standard in both literacy and language. By the end of KS3 students should have developed a firm understanding both the written and spoken word. The aim is to also develop a love of literature and enjoyment in this area across a wide range of different styles and genres.

The curriculum is divided into four separate areas including:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Grammar and vocab
  • Spoken english

KS3 Curriculum areas Explained


For writing, students are taught fluent writing and will receive lessons on how to write effectively, even at length without going off on a tangent. This will include a range of different purposes including:

  • Notes for talks and presentations
  • Stories, poetry, creative writing
  • Essays
  • Arguments as well as personal and formal letters

Students learn how to organise as well as summarise their material and utilise a growing vocabulary as well as their grammatical knowledge. Students will also be encouraged to use structure for their writing.

They will also be encouraged to write drafts and also proofread their work while considering how to write for a specific target audience. Teachers will even show them how to pay attention to both spellings as well as punctuation.


As mentioned, one of the aims of KS3 is to ensure that children develop a keen understanding of different types of literature and general enjoyment in reading. The curriculum includes reading both fiction and non-fiction as well as a variety of plays, short stories, and full novels.

Studies include:

  • At least two Shakespear plays
  • Seminal world literature
  • English literature including pre-1914 as well as contemporary

As well as reading in class, students are also expected to read at least two books independently that they will have chosen themselves. They will also be encouraged to read books that they have already discussed to gain a deeper understanding and ensure that they can make comparisons.

Over the curriculum, students will tackle more challenging texts and learn to expand their vocabulary through the use of both dictionaries as well as context. Students must look for evidence in the text and use their knowledge of audience and purpose to gain further understanding.

Pupils are also encouraged to utilise their knowledge to check if something makes sense and read critically. They will study a variety of different dramatic and poetic conventions as well as looking at characterisation and plot.

Pupils will study work by a variety of authors and at least two author’s work will be studied in debt each year.

KS3 Grammar And Vocab

Grammar and vocabulary will be relevant for all the different areas in KS3 english. However, students will also be expected to consolidate any grammar and vocabulary knowledge that we developed in primary school.

They will be able to do this in a number of different ways. For instance, students will be shown how to analyse texts that are more challenging and be given the tools that they need to approach these correctly. They will be shown how to study how effective gramatical features are in different texts that they read and explore.

Students will also be encouraged to pick up new vocabulary and grammatical tools from books as well as other texts. They will then be able to use these in their own writing and even in their speech.

Pupils will be shown the differences between spoken and written English including standard English as well as other varieties and different types of registers.

By the end of KS3 English, students should be able to use standard English with confidence in both written and spoken pieces. They should also be able to use different literary terminology when discussing pieces of work as well as spoken language.

K3 Spoke Language

The final area of KS3 English is spoken language. In this area, pupils are taught how to speak with confidence and ensure that they are effective at getting a point across. Again, students will be encouraged to use standard English with confidence and within a range of different contexts.

This might include:

  • Discussions in the classroom
  • Speeches
  • Presentation

Students will be shown how language can be used in different ways depending on the context. They will be encouraged to share their own ideas while keeping to the point. Pupils will be taught how to engage in formal debates and maintain a structured discussion.

Lessons may also include how to rehearse, improvise, and perform scripted pieces as well as poetry. They will be shown how to use a variety of tools to add impact including:

  • Tone
  • Volume
  • Mood
  • Silence
  • Sillness
  • Action

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