Faculty Leader – English
Miss Bunclark, Mrs Evans, Mrs Hammond, Ms Quartermaine, Miss Hussain, Miss Keogh, Mr Leary, Miss Vickers, Mr Ward, Ms Chambers
The Subject Way
Firstly, to teach students the vital skills they need to achieve their full potential and gain the very best grades they can. Secondly, to teach students how each subject relates to the wider world, incorporating the life skills they will learn.
It is our belief that knowing how what you learn links to the wider world brings a subject to life and therefore improves overall understanding and engagement.
Key Stage 3
At Rawmarsh Community School, all pupils are given the opportunity to read high quality texts which are chosen to inspire and provide a rich knowledge base. Every pupil reads a range of exceptional texts during their time at our school, and these texts are used as a basis to improve students’ reading, writing and oracy skills.
Students are taught to be strategic and critical readers when exploring high quality texts. They are taught to make predictions about texts; question key ideas to aid comprehension; and summarise to show understanding. Through these texts, our students develop rich knowledge of themes and concepts which are significant within the literary canon. To help our students develop these key skills, alongside their social, moral, spiritual and cultural development, we embedded three core, driving concepts: Power, Relationships and Equality. Each text and topic has been chosen to help explicitly build a rich knowledge base for one of these concepts which we feel is vital in developing our students in English and, importantly, for the wider world.
The following topics are explored across Years 7, 8 and 9:
- Power and Conflict
- Love and Tragedy
- Hidden Voices
- Heroes and Villains
- Politics and Society
Each scheme of work provides an opportunity to explore the importance of these topics inside and outside the world of literature. Students read full plays, poetry and novels connected to these themes and we believe that a full text approach is essential to developing students’ knowledge of significant literary works. Alongside this, students read additional fiction and non-fiction texts which are chosen to enhance their understanding of the topic being studied. Teachers regularly design opportunities for students to make connections between texts and themes in order to strengthen their knowledge and understanding. By approaching our curriculum in a thematic and conceptual way, we improve students’ ability to understand the world of literature but also understand the world around them. Students are taught to make connections between the texts they read, and the conceptual links they make mean they read with increasing confidence over time.
This confidence is also something we aim to instil in our students when writing. We teach writing in an explicit way to ensure students develop both creative and technical technique. We want them to be assured writers who are able to write for a range of purposes, as well as young people with a sense of voice behind their writing. We aim to build writing resilience and give students the tools to be able to draft and edit their work.
At Rawmarsh, we believe the ability to communicate effectively is imperative, and teachers support students to improve their communication skills. Students are given regular opportunities to speak in an exploratory and presentational way. Example presentational tasks include speeches, debates, question and answer sessions and monologues. All of these tasks are carefully planned to ensure students develop the linguistic, cognitive, social and physical skills they need to communicate in a confident way.
Vocabulary is also valued within our curriculum. Vocabulary is an important aspect of students’ writing, but we also appreciate that it is a significant aspect of students’ verbal language and their ability to discuss texts. We therefore teach vocabulary in an explicit way and build in regular opportunities for students to use the vocabulary they have learnt. An important aspect of this is using recall and retrieval to encourage students to revisit vocabulary they have already been taught.
As a result of our choice to read high quality texts and place importance on knowledge, vocabulary and oracy, we intend for students to be fluent readers and confident writers who are prepared to meet the demands of qualifications and the wider world.
Key Stage 4
The English Language qualification consists of two examinations which assess students’ reading and writing skills. Across the two examinations, students read and comment on fiction and non-fiction texts from a range of time periods. The skills of retrieval, inference, analysis, evaluation, synthesis and comparison are essential aspects of the course. Students are also required to use these texts as inspiration to write creatively. Pupils are asked to write for different purposes, such as writing to describe, narrative, argue and explain. Students are assessed on their ability to write for purpose, use language, structure their writing and be accurate.
The English Literature qualification also consists of two examinations. Students study texts across a range of genres: An Inspector Calls, Macbeth, A Christmas Carol/Jekyll & Hyde and Love and Relationships poetry. Students are therefore given the opportunity to read texts across different time periods and continue to learn about significant themes, some of which they have already encountered at Key Stage 3. Students learn to analyse writers’ methods, make interpretations, use evidence and link to wider ideas and concepts.
Y10 and Y11 pupils will complete weekly lessons in the hall, with multiple class groups combined. These sessions will expose pupils to a broad range of real-life topics, deepening their understanding of the world around them. The sessions will culminate in a piece of extended transactional writing to allow for pupil performance to be regularly and routinely monitored, and to allow them an opportunity to develop independence and resilience.
How we intend to remove barriers
|Train students how to break down the question or task title|
|Allocate adequate planning and preparation time before any independent writing|
|Use effective modelling for all extended writing tasks|
|Challenge basic Literacy errors, which affect clarity in written work, using the Literacy Marking Symbols|
As a department, we use ‘Reciprocal Reading’ strategies, and every member of staff has a visualiser with which we complete modelling activities. In KS3, there is a weekly ‘Drop Everything And Read’ session, and a weekly 60-second presentation related to these reading-for-pleasure books. ‘Word Of The Week’ is an embedded part of the English curriculum: it exposes pupil to new vocabulary using the Frayer model, allows them to apply it in context, and ensures they revisit vocabulary previously encountered. The idea is that pupils read widely and often, and become confident orators.
English teachers are involved in the conversations around who accesses more specific literacy interventions such as RWI and hand-writing etc. Writing is modelled, and scaffolds and writing frames are offered as appropriate. Oracy is built into schemes of learning, with opportunities for pupils to develop their speaking and listening skills. Staff model standard English, and challenge non-standard English in responses to questions in class. The text selection is rigorous and challenging.
How we develop skills for learning
Curriculum design is interleaved: pupils revisit task-types and text-types termly. This allows for a spiral curriculum where skills are consistently revisited. Pupils are regularly afforded opportunities to: interpret and analyse written texts; produce creative responses to a range of prompts; discuss things in pairs, small groups or as a whole class; and develop their knowledge, skills and understanding as a cumulative body. Thematic booklets at KS3 make reference to previous themes/texts covered.
Retrieval practice is built into the KS4 programme of study, with cumulative starter activities which cover previously covered content, and resources provided for students to complete independent study. Assessment Objectives in English cover the majority of the school’s identified skills for learning, and the curriculum map ensures pupils get constant and repeated exposure to these. Cross-curricular links are identified and explored where possible.
How we foster personal attributes
Our curriculum is premised on pedagogical approaches which encourage pupils to support one another, respect one another, try their best, take pride in their work, recognise the contributions of others etc. These approaches also find themselves into the lessons of all pupils: staff all work hard to ensure these are in place. Literature allows pupils to view the world from different perspectives and viewpoints. Through the careful selection of texts for study, pupils are invited to reflect on the world and their relation to it, and the situations of others. Further, writing tasks make this explicit: pupils have to engage with the personal.
How we intend to enrich student experiences and broaden the horizons of students
The study of English is about student experience and broad horizons. Literature texts are aesthetic experiences, and pupils are immersed in them regularly and routinely. Over their time with us pupils will read several novels, poems and plays, all of which have been selected to ensure pupils get the chance to: i) reflect on an important topic or theme; ii) gain knowledge of a canonical text which will enable them to participate in broad cultural conversations; and iii) enjoy high-quality literature. Pupils at KS4 have ‘Hall Lessons’ which expose them to multimedia presentations of big topics and issues, to which they are invited to respond in a piece of extended, independent formal writing.
Trips, visits and speakers may include theatre groups putting on performances of texts studied. Hands-on experiences in English will broadly centre on drama texts, where – as well as written analyses – pupils need a sound understanding of them as text-as-production. Outside of lessons there are chances to take part in the BBC School Report program, allowing pupils to connect their in-class learning to the real world around them.
Key Stage 3
From years 7 to 9 pupils cover all of the skills they will need for reading, writing, and speaking & listening, preparing them for the requirements of their GCSEs at KS4.
Each term, pupils study a range of thematically linked fiction extracts, non-fiction texts, and poems – they read these to construct meaning, and analyse how they have been constructed for impact by writers. Alongside this, pupils are given chances to write creatively – narrative and descriptive – and to produce transactional writing such as letters, articles, and speeches. Further, the texts and topics chosen generate opportunity for plenty of class discussion and debate. The idea is that pupils:
- Develop deep thematic understanding of an important theme, topic, or issue;
- Gain secure knowledge of texts and how they are constructed;
- Improve their communication skills – both written and spoken.
As students join us for rollover, they complete a ‘Welcome to Rawmarsh’ unit where we encourage students to write and perform a speech ‘All about me’. This should show the pupils what is the same – and what is different – about the subject at Key Stage 3 compared to Key Stage 2.
We then move on to exploring their first big theme ‘Power and Conflict’ where they will develop an understanding of these concepts through poetry and extracts. Alongside this students practise descriptive writing skills and read the novel The Boy at the top of the Mountain.
After the Christmas break, pupils explore Love and Tragedy through fiction extracts, non-fiction texts, and poetry. This informs their subsequent study of Shakespeare’s play ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
The final term sees pupils explore a topic on Hidden Voices where students are exposed to a range of historical figures who have been “hidden’. Alongside this, they will also work on their viewpoint writing skills with a focus on letter writing.n to exploring a range of Shakespeare extracts, to secure an understanding of the context in which he was writing, and to ensure familiarity and confidence with the language.
Key Stage 4 Overview
The English Language course consists of two examinations that will be taken at the end of Year 11. Pupils will be tested on their ability to understand a range of different fiction and non- fiction texts from across different time periods. They will demonstrate their skills in inference, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Both examinations will also have a writing element in which pupils will be asked to write for a number of different purposes and to different audiences. There is a major emphasis on spelling, grammar and punctuation on this course as these skills are weighted heavily on both exams.
The English Literature course also consists of two examinations which are essentially a study of a range of literary texts, including drama by Shakespeare, novels from different time periods including Jekyll and Hyde and Lord of the Flies, and a collection of poetry. The examinations are all closed book, therefore pupils learn skills in analysing extracts and linking these to the writer’s messages and the context in which the text was written. Emphasis on spelling, punctuation and grammar is maintained throughout this course.
SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social, and Cultural)
Throughout both Key Stages, students study a variety of texts from different cultures. Students study the contexts in which the authors are writing and exploring the lives of people from different countries. Students consider what makes up a person’s culture and how it can be influenced by different beliefs, religions and moral codes.
They explore what they believe makes up their culture and write poems and stories which reflect this. Students study a wide range of books which encourages students to consider morality and values, including books such as Of Mice and Men, Boxer and Lord of the Flies.
In Year 7 students study a novel set during World War 2 involving The Holocaust; The Boy at the Top of the Mountain. Students explore the context of the Holocaust during WW2 and examine the innocence of children against the corruption of Hitler’s Nazi party. They learn about how the events and moral codes children are exposed to affect their views on life. Students also study Boxer by Nikesh Shukla which exposes students to a contemporary novel with issues of racism,extremism, and prejudice.
Our Subjects at KS4