English: what your child will learn in high school

An overview of the important language, writing and creative thinking skills your child will continue to develop through Years 7 to 10 of the high school English curriculum.

This information is subject to change as the NSW Government reforms the curriculum from Kindergarten to Year 12 so every student is prepared and ready for their future. Learn more about the NSW Curriculum reform.

For many students, high school English offers their first introduction to classic novels such as ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ or ‘Boy overboard’. Yet this important subject is far more than a window into the power of great literature.

English enables your child to become a more critical and imaginative thinker. Ability in English empowers your child to become an effective communicator too, whether in conversation, filling out medical forms or writing essays and reports. English skills are also a gateway to success in other subjects, further study and the world of work.

English is a mandatory high school subject that contributes to your child’s completion of their Year 10 Record of School Achievement (RoSA). By the end of Year 10 your child will have studied at least 400 hours of English.

English in Year 7 and 8

By the end of this stage, your child has explored a wide range of texts to:

  • respond critically and recognise ideas
  • distinguish between fact and opinion and identify how style and content can influence point of view
  • recognise and understand different forms, text structures and language features and apply them
  • compose different kinds of texts
  • use English in different contexts, for different purposes and audiences
  • widen their repertoire of language choices.

English in Year 9 and 10

This further extends and develops the skills attained in English during Years 7 and 8. By the end of Year 10, your child has utilised different modes and technologies to:

  • consider and respond critically and creatively to different texts
  • compose a wide range of imaginative, factual and critical texts
  • vary their style, content and approach to address the audience and purpose of the text
  • think imaginatively and critically about information, ideas and arguments
  • study a Shakespearean drama such as ‘Macbeth’ or ‘Romeo and Juliet’.

Skills your child will learn in English

The Year 7 to 10 high school English curriculum enables your child to develop knowledge, understanding and skills in the following areas.

Your child is supported to:

  • explore the power and value of the English language
  • better communicate through speaking, listening, reading, writing, viewing and representing
  • understand language forms and features
  • experiment with writing different styles of text
  • use language in effective and meaningful ways that are imaginative, creative and powerful
  • experience diversity of story and language from a range of cultures to provide insights into Aboriginal and multicultural experiences in Australia and experiences of people in other cultures.


Your child is supported to:

  • explore and develop imaginative and creative ideas
  • write in different textual forms
  • adapt their writing style to suit different purposes and audiences.

Books and other texts

Though your child will read and respond to a wide range of books throughout high school English, they will also develop their language, understanding and skills by experiencing many other types of texts. These may be fiction or non-fiction, classics or more recent works and include a variety of written, spoken and visual texts:

  • novels
  • poetry and performance poetry
  • plays and films
  • short stories
  • multimodal texts
  • media, multimedia and digital, including graphic novels.

Flexible learning

Across all subjects, teachers have the flexibility to make decisions about the sequence of topics and emphasis given to content to suit the school’s resources and the individual needs, interests and abilities of the students.

Meeting every child’s needs

The high school syllabus takes an inclusive approach to ensure the learning needs of every student are addressed, including children with:

  • a physical or intellectual disability
  • English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D)
  • other special needs
  • no special needs.

Teachers and parents in partnership

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s English learning or study area, make an appointment to talk to their English teacher. Meanwhile, you can support their English learning by encouraging reading of books and newspaper articles, creative writing and language games, such as scrabble and crosswords.


  • Communication and engagement


  • English
  • Learning

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