The first module of our curriculum is centred around Simon Armitage’s radio play based on Homer’s Odyssey. It’s an earthy, accessible and often very funny version of the epic which provides students which lots of opportunity for reading fluency practice as they perform various set pieces. Teachers need to be aware that there are two ‘f-bombs’ in the play and that care needs to be taken, particularly with the scene in which Odysseus confronts the witch Circe after she has failed to turn him into a pig.

Students will also explore the concept of mythology in terms of the origin of stories. They will read a range of creation myths from around the world as well as exploring what it is to be a hero by comparing various stories from Greek myth as well as extracts from the Iliad dealing with the story of Achilles and the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest piece of literature of which we are aware. Gilgamesh, Achilles and Odysseus present a complex counterpoint to some of the simpler, more sanitised versions of the hero found in some of the other stories and students are asked to think about whether and to what extent these characters fulfil the role of hero, and how the concept of hero has changed over time.

Students will also read texts inspired by the Odyssey by Tennyson, Margaret Atwood and Carol Ann Duffy and think particularly about the presentation of female characters in the Odyssey.