What your child learns in Key Stage 3 English

Secondary school girl writing
KS3 covers the first three years of secondary school. Here’s your guide to what your child will learn in English classes in that time.

English will probably be taught in ability sets in KS3. The curriculum will be the same, but higher sets will be working at a higher level, while lower sets will be given more support.

Children will be working on a wide range of material, which could include:

  • At least one play by Shakespeare
  • English classic novels
  • 20th century novels
  • Contemporary novels
  • Authors from different cultures
  • Drama
  • Poetry and ballads
  • Journalism
  • Advertisements and persuasive writing
  • Travel writing
  • Essays
  • Diaries
  • Play scripts
  • Reviews
  • Literature on film

In KS3, English is taught with a focus on:

  • reading
  • writing
  • language
  • speaking and listening


KS3 children are expected to be fluent, confident readers, so the emphasis now is on:

  • reading for meaning
  • understanding the author’s craft


In their written work, the children will be producing fiction and non-fiction, and concentrating on:

  • planning and drafting
  • presenting ideas logically and clearly
  • precise and imaginative vocabulary
  • using correct punctuation in sentences and speech
  • structure and presentation
  • how to edit, proofread and revise their work on screen and paper


  • How spoken English varies according to region or setting
  • How English has developed over time
  • How English is used in different contexts

Speaking and listening

  • Listening to a talk or discussion and picking out the main ideas
  • Thinking about ways of making their speech more interesting
  • Contributing to group discussions
  • Putting on performances, either independently or in groups, of improvised or scripted plays