Year 7 overview

Literacy 4 Life at Year 7 – Topic Overview

In year 7 students will complete 10 topics throughout the course of the year. These include:

  1. Citizen Me
  2. Planets
  3. Journeys
  4. Fairytales and Pantomimes
  5. Silent Movies
  6. Growing
  7. iRobot
  8. Water
  9. In Days of Old
  10. Black Gold

Students will be graded against the competencies listed against each of the lessons. These competencies run from entry stage (presecondary) up to level 2 (Year 9). Students will be assessed in six predetermined assessment points within each theme. Each theme will explore several topics from across subject areas such as History, Geography, Religious Education, Maths and Science. These have all been measured up against the key stage 3 curriculum for each subject to ensure students are receiving the right educational diet. The development of literacy skills is expressed throughout each theme and encourages students to think outside of the box and practice skills that they would not have the opportunity to practice in a more conventional secondary school setting. This has been proven to boost Year 11 exam grades by over 10% at neighbouring schools in Birmingham.

Autumn 1: Citizen me / Plants
Autumn 2: Journeys / Fairy Tales and Pantomimes

Spring 1: Silent movies / Growing
Spring 2: Growing / iRobot

Summer 1: Water / In Days of Old
Summer 2: Black Gold

Subject Ethos for Literacy 4 Life at JQA

Literacy 4 Life is a bespoke curriculum delivered to our students in year 7 and 8 at Jewellery Quarter Academy. It is designed to encompass a variety of subjects, whilst being taught in a safe, structured and stimulating setting. It is important that children develop a healthy and positive attitude towards their learning. We believe in teaching and praising the determination of our pupils and having them view misconceptions as an opportunity to learn. We are committed to enabling pupils to achieve their maximum potential in all aspects of their development.

We want the young people, through the learning of Literacy 4 Life to:

  • Develop all literacy skills, including reading, verbal and written which allow them to participate in society.
  • Develop a secure understanding of the concepts, principles and processes of multiple subject areas and apply these in different contexts.
  • Understand the application of the subjects in our curriculum, its impact on our society, past, present and future.
  • Establish firm foundations for further specialist learning.

We ask the question: How can Literacy 4 Life help us to change the way we view the world and the universe?

Theme One – Citizen Me:

Citizen Me is a predominantly Citizenship and PSHEE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education) based theme that explores the ways in which we shape our communities and our communities shape us.

Students will have the opportunity to explore their own family heritage, culture and beliefs. They will then look outwards, contemplating the diversity of culture and belief that exists in the U.K. and considering exactly what being British means and the associated values. 

Citizen Me gives students the chance to compose a graduation speech as a piece of extended writing, reflecting much of what they have learnt through this theme. Students will also consider our systems of political representation and develop their own views: exploring politics through the creation of their own political manifesto.


In this theme students will explore religious and scientific ideas about how the universe came into being. By the end of the theme students will have a well formed idea about the significance of Earth within our solar system and the unique nature of life on Earth.

As they progress through the theme they will discuss the impact of important scientific figures and discoveries. The Flipped Learning task develops the students’ understanding of how scientific and technological revolution are intertwined, and how this impacts on where human beings position themselves in the universe. 

Theme Three – Journeys:

Journey’s is largely a humanities-based project focusing on the purpose and value of journeys undertaken both historically and religiously.

Academically, students will consider and use primary and secondary historical sources.  They will learn basic map reading skills and map symbols. Students will complete extended writing tasks in the form of a newspaper article and a postcard from the Alps and a discursive text on the value of pilgrimage. In addition, students will focus on the key numeracy skills of time, distance and speed and also money and currency conversion.

Practically, students will use drama skills to recreate scenes from Theseus and the Minotaur.

Theme Four – Fairy Tales and Pantomimes:

Fairy Tales and Pantomime is a Literacy rich theme which embraces how Fairy Tales and pantomimes have been used throughout time to teach morals to young people. The driving question allows students to consider the relevance of Fairy Tales and Pantomime in a modern, technologically rich world where story telling may be considered by some to be redundant.

Students will study traditional fairy tales, (including Aesop’s fables) and what the common features of fairy tales are. This is then used to develop increasingly complex writing techniques including writing to persuade, narrative and writing to give information (report).

Throughout Fairy Tales and Pantomime students will consider the purpose of both these literary genres and the relevance today through the consideration of how the morals apply to their personal development enabling them to answer the driving question.

Theme Five – Silent Movies:

The Silent Movies theme aims to integrate many of the competency strands into a fun, interactive and creative theme. In order to answer the driving question, students must undertake a great deal of analysis, exploring the movies themselves as well as the era.

The theme sets the scene for the understanding of silent movies by asking students to undertake historical research on the silent movie era and one of its most famous stars – Charlie Chaplin. Students are introduced to many of the acting and directing techniques of Charlie Chaplin and other silent movie comedy stars. They learn all about direct camera address, pratfalls, miming and how these techniques were used in the silent movies.

Literacy skills come to the fore when students begin to work together in ‘production’ teams to create their own movies using the same techniques as the silent movie stars. There are opportunities for achieving progress in speaking and listening literacy during initial scoping sessions and rehearsals, written literacy in creating scripts and reading literacy in taking a script and bringing it to life on the screen.

Science competencies are also covered when students discover what sound is and the different properties of sound.

Theme Six – Growing:

The Growing theme is a humanities-based theme. 

Academically, students will consider and use primary and secondary historical sources to investigate Boudicca’s rebellion against the Romans. They will complete an end of project assessment using sources to answer the question: ‘was Boudicca a hero or villain?’  In addition, students will study MEDCs and LEDCs with a particular focus on population growth and settlements. They will complete an end of project assessment. Students will complete extended writing tasks in the form of recount texts (diary). In Numeracy students will study number patterns and sequences and will begin considering formula for calculating any number in sequence.  In terms of science, students will investigate the growth of micro-organisms and what factors may affect their growth. Students will spend a day looking at personal growth during a PHSE day.

Theme Seven – iRobot:

iRobot is a largely ICT and Science based theme exploring the development of technology and many of the moral issues that surround a world in which this is increasingly prevalent.

Practically, students gain the opportunity to try coding for the first time, to design and complete electrical circuits and to practice some physical dance moves. Academically, students explore algebra, take part in formal debates and conduct three areas of formal extended writing; Encyclopaedias, Letter writing and Discussion.

I, Robot connects two very different learning strands. The core of the theme, as suggested by the Driving Question, considers the future of robots from a socio-political point of view. In order to answer the driving question, students will first consider what it means to be human.
Underpinning the more philosophical ideas is the study of concrete concepts relating to the mechanics of both robots and humans. Students will explore programming by first considering key mathematical
principles and relating these to control. By the end of this theme students will have a greater sense of the driving forces behind human ingenuity as well as a respect for the principles that underpin what it means to be human.

Theme Eight – Water:

The Water theme is to a large extent a scientific theme which develops through ecology and physical geography into more social perspectives. Students develop an understanding of the significance of water by investigating the driving question, How does water affect life on Earth​? Students explore through Science and the Humanities then express their knowledge and understanding through Literacy, Numeracy and ICT tasks. 

The scientific perspective covers the water cycle  and provides the foundation for further exploration in to how water affects life. Students cover physical and human geography investigating the features of rivers, coral reef, glacial environments and meteorology. 

From a social perspective students consider water in religion and its significance in a geopolitical sense. Lessons on Water Aid and Natural disasters enable students to make links between their circumstances and experiences in developing countries.

With the support of resources from Water Aid students will explore the term persuasion within charity organisations and will work to persuade an audience both through word choice and visual elements. Group work and presentations play a vital part within the theme and all students will be expected to contribute ideas as well as express through presentation to their peers.

Theme Nine – In Days of Old:

The In Days of Old theme is heavily weighted with the Humanities Curriculum. Its focus is to develop students understanding of how historical and religious events and people have impacted on our modern day world and the way in which we live and make political and social decisions.

Students will explore several historical events that took place in the Middle Ages including The Norman Conquest in 1066 and how King William maintained control afterwards. They will consider the role of the Church in Medieval England and how tensions grew between Church and state culminating in the murder of Becket and the Crusades.

Chronology is a major aspect of the theme and students will be expected to use and understand timelines and arrange events into chorological order. In addition, students will be expected to use and evaluate primary and secondary sources and use skills of analysis to evaluate the importance of key religious and historical figures.

Theme Ten – Black Gold:

The Black Gold is an extensive theme covering oil and its uses over the last 50 million years; from initial formation to its uses in ancient civilisations and how it powers today’s developed technological world.

As well as looking historically at the chronology of oil and its uses, there is significant science content embedded within this theme. As the theme progresses, students will gain an insight into the many uses of oil and how it has shaped and transformed our world over millions of years.

The Black Gold theme follows the exciting timeline of oil from 50 million years ago to the present day. The theme begins by enabling students to understand how oil is formed and to undertake a collaborative research project to investigate its unique properties. Students then look at how oil affects plants and animals in the natural world.

Moving closer to the present day, students begin to look at how oil affects humans. Oil and Ancient Civilisations requires students to research ways in which different types of oils were used by ancient people, for example anointing, washing, cooking, heating, lighting and waterproofing. Students gather artefacts, print them out, write captions and arrange them chronologically to tell a story as if they were curating an exhibition.

As the theme progresses, students begin work on their own individual Black Gold timeline. They work out a design, a timescale and a style for displaying their information either as hand-written or drawn, using a presentation package such as PowerPoint or Prezie, or as an audio/video presentation.

Creative writing asks students to write a story based on a picture of oil spilt on the ground, refracting the light. They may like to focus on how the oil got spilt, what causes it to look multi-coloured, the formation of oil or its modern day use. It is up to the students to use the knowledge they gained thus far in the theme far and put it into a narrative of their choice.