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In English, teachers plan engaging lessons that promote interest and challenge pupils to think deeply. Ofsted 2018
Subject Leader: Mrs S Griffith Interim Subject Leader for English
Staff: Ms J Colley – 2nd in Department
Ms K Aggio – Senior Assistant Principal
Mrs N Creedy
Miss R Ellis - Interim Assistant Principal
Ms M Greaves
Mrs N Jones - Lead Practitioner
Ms B Liberda
Ms C Thomas
Mrs L Wendt
Ms C Wigham
English Curriculum Statement of Intent
In the English department we believe in the power of storytelling to enrich our students’ lives and shape their understanding of the diverse, challenging and ever-changing world they live in. Not only do English lessons allow students insights into other cultures, enabling them to discover new ways of seeing the world, but they are given the opportunity for creativity, self-expression and personal development too. We encourage our students to be inquisitive and explore how the written word can enable them to communicate effectively and appropriately in a range of environments and discourses. The study of English helps to create global citizens who are able to communicate with one another passionately and empathetically. We aim to instil a love of literature so that our students become lifelong readers and critical thinkers beyond their formal studies.
We have a three-year Key Stage 3 which is broad and celebrates a wide range of genres, time-periods and voices. Every year students will study a novel, a Shakespeare play and poetry as well as explicitly taught fiction and non-fiction writing units. Further to this they study modern dramas, short stories and mythology to expand their cultural capital. We choose our literature texts carefully to embed a love of reading, to provide a suitable level of challenge and to explore a range of societal issues. We cover a range of plays, poems and prose including canonical texts such as ‘Alice in Wonderland’ to modern Carnegie Award winners. Our curriculum constantly evolves to meet the needs of all students regardless of their background, advantage and ability.
We recognise the importance of a cohesive transition from KS2 to KS3 and our Lead Practitioner for Literacy has forged strong relationships with our feeder schools to build on students’ prior learning. Our curriculum is underpinned by the foundations of grammar and we have looked closely at how we can build on these stepping stones throughout KS3. Students should be empowered by their knowledge of grammar to become critical interpreters of literature and language. Whilst our curriculum covers a broad range of topics, it is essential that our students have time to master fundamental skills for GCSE and A Level but also for their future careers. We follow the AQA specification for GCSE English Language and Literature and also offer the ‘Step up to English’ as an alternative provision. At A Level we offer both English Language and English Literature. Both subjects allow students independence, creativity and the opportunity to engage with mature, challenging and socially relevant texts. For Literature, students analyse literary genres, elements of political and social protest writing and examine texts under a range of critical lenses. For Language, students pursue lines of enquiry using analytical methods to scrutinise a range of real-life texts.
Oracy plays an integral part in English lessons with regular opportunities for discussion, presentation and role play. Students are encouraged to express their views articulately, preparing them for their GCSEs and real-world experiences. We promote the power of words and include a range of activities in lessons to develop students’ vocabulary growth and word consciousness. We study the etymology of words, model sophisticated language use and focus on the development of Tier 2 vocabulary so that students can express themselves and effectively comprehend the texts they read across the curriculum. Students are given weekly spelling tests to reinforce spelling patterns, build on prior knowledge and ensure the accuracy of their written work.
In English our curriculum is balanced to assess students’ knowledge as well as their skills. We assess students in a range of ways with a focus on building their resilience. In most lessons students will undergo low-stakes testing to recall information and commit knowledge to their long-term memory. This is combined with more formal assessments with a focus on the importance of planning, crafting, editing and redrafting their work. We aim for students to see that the skills learnt in English are applicable across the curriculum and fundamental to their future.
In English we offer a range of extra-curricular activities to extend the opportunities and meet the needs of students of all backgrounds and abilities. The Reading Room is central to the department and KS3 students regularly visit during lessons. Our Sixth Formers support the learning of younger students with many of them being a Reading Buddy for a year 7 student. Each year we shadow the Carnegie Award so that students are exposed to new and noteworthy literature. Students are able to spend time in the Reading Room during social times and there are a number of reading challenges available for students to participate in. We offer a book club, a creative writing club run by our Sixth Form and a public speaking club which allows students to compete in local and national competitions. Our students also compete in the Bar Mock and Magistrates Mock Trial competitions and have seen growing success over the last few years. We offer a range of trips to the theatre for students to enhance their knowledge of the texts they are studying in class. Our ‘Triple A’ students annually host a popular Literary Festival which includes a range of activities from guest speakers, creative writing workshops and a book fayre. We also celebrate World Book Day each year to demonstrate the importance of literature across the curriculum. Our students take pride in their learning and we give them many opportunities to enrich their experiences beyond the classroom.
Key Stage 3
Key Stage 3 Homework
In KS3, students are set reading and spelling/vocabulary homework once a week. These are shared on Show My Homework and assessed in class. Some spellings are subject specific and these are taught explicitly during each topic; some are commonly misspelled words and some are based upon spelling patterns (such as prefixes and suffixes). For vocabulary homework, students are asked to complete a range of activities such as defining the word, applying it in a sentence or find synonyms/antonyms for the word.
We expect all students to read for a minimum of 70 minutes a week. This could be 10 minutes every night or split into larger chunks. Students should aim to read a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, a range of genres and texts that are suitably challenging for their age. Have a look at the recommended reading list attached or speak to an English teacher if you’re struggling to find a text that engages you. To foster a love of reading, we then ask students to complete a ‘reading log’ on Show My Homework where we guide them with questions to help them to write a summary of what they have read that week and this enables us to discuss their reading habits in class.
The Reading Room
Once a fortnight, students in KS3 will go to the Reading Room for 30 minutes of independent reading. They will have time to select, return or renew reading books and should take this opportunity to ask for recommendations if they need them.
- Creative writing club
- Debate club
- Reading club
- Mock Trials
- Trips (in recent years we have been to: Harry Potter World and theatre productions of Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Warhorse and many others)
- Termly competitions such as ‘Young Writers’
- World Book Day activities
- National Writing Day
- World Poetry Day
- BBC 500 words competition
The purpose of this scheme is for a member of The Sixth Form to support selected year 7 students in developing their reading skills by reading with them once a week during tutor time for a 10-week period. This scheme has been incredibly effective and popular. Not only does it help develop reading skills, but students have enjoyed having a member of The Sixth Form as their ‘buddy’ who can help them enjoy their reading in a one-to-one setting and outside of a classroom environment. The Sixth Form students have been trained so they are equipped with a set of skills to get the best out of their young readers and they keep a reading record for their ‘buddy’.
Key Stage 4
Years 10 & 11
English Language and English Literature are compulsory for all students. Both are assessed completely by examination, which take place at the end of Year 11. There is an additional qualification in Spoken Language, which requires students to present and answer questions on a topic of their choice. The GCSE Language course is entirely skills based; students have to apply reading and writing skills to unseen tasks in their exams. In GCSE Literature, students will study three texts and a collection of poetry and need to know these in detail before their exams. They will also be asked to approach unseen poems and write about their own personal responses to these. The course is varied, we study texts from a wide variety of writers and contexts.
The specifications can be accessed here:
Key Stage 5
English Language and English Literature are both popular options at A level. Studying an English A level is superb preparation for many careers and degrees such as Law, History, Marketing, Business, Politics, Journalism, Advertising, Publishing and many, many more. With an English A level, students can prove to employers and universities that they are analytical, articulate, creative and thoughtful.
English Language A Level (AQA):
In this course, the students will study many different aspects of language, ranging from the language used by different social groups to the development of language in young children. The first section of the A level exam requires a close reading of texts and an exploration of the different aspects of language used; there is also an assessment of a student’s writing skills. There are two Non Examined Assessments on this course. The first requires students to produce a personal investigation in to any aspect of language that interests them, collecting and analysing their own personal data. The second piece is a creative writing task.http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/as-and-a-level/english-language-7701-7702
English Literature A Level (AQA Specification B):
Students on this course study a variety of texts (poetry, prose and drama) through the lens of a particular genre. For Paper 1, they will explore texts that could be considered tragedies. In the second year of the course, students consider elements of texts that are considered Political and Social Protest writing. In their Non Examined Assessments, students apply their knowledge of literary criticism to the poetry and novels of their choice.