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.
Y7 and Y8 pupils for whom reading and writing are real barriers to learning will access Success For All – a program designed to use collaborative learning strategies alongside the reading of full texts, the embedded and explicit instruction of vocabulary, spelling and grammar, and the completion of thematically linked writing tasks. Pupils accessing this provision will have their progress closely monitored with a view to their integration to the wider English curriculum at the earliest appropriate time.
The importance of English
Without key literacy skills, pupils will struggle to make sense of the world around them, and will struggle to make themselves heard and listened to. English is a vital subject because it allows for full and proper communication. The critical reading skills that form part of the curriculum allow for this communication to be fully realised; it’s about more than the ability to read and write for literal meaning.
Beyond the functional utility of it, English – Literature and Language – are academic disciplines in their own right. The texts selected have been given real consideration: partly we are trying to expose pupils to great, canonical literature, to help them join in those big cultural conversations which they may otherwise be excluded from. Further, the thematic approach allows for pupils to engage with big issues and big questions. It would be a shame if pupils didn’t reflect on wealth & poverty, prejudice & discrimination, love & romance etc. Pupils are given opportunities, through this curriculum, to develop their understanding of the written word, but also to develop their understanding of the world around them, and their position in it.
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
The SFA curriculum for our more vulnerable KS3 learners 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 other 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.
Our Curriculum in English
Key Stage 3 Overview
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 a cross-over unit from the end of Year 6, pupils begin Year 7 by concluding their reading of the novel ‘Trash’. 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 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.
After the Christmas break, pupils explore love and romance 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 the concepts of rich and poor through fiction extracts, non-fiction texts, and poetry. This informs their subsequent study of Dickens’ novel ‘Oliver Twist’.
To begin Year 8, pupils explore ideas surrounding culture and identity through fiction extracts, non-fiction texts, and poetry. This informs their subsequent study of Steinbeck’s novella ‘Of Mice and Men’.
After the Christmas break, pupils explore politics and society through fiction extracts, non-fiction texts, and poetry. This informs their subsequent study of Orwell’s novel ‘Animal Farm’.
The final term sees pupils explore working class voices through fiction extracts, non-fiction texts, and poetry. This informs their subsequent study of Hines’ play-script version of ‘A Kestrel For A Knave’.
To begin Year 9, pupils explore Victorian anxieties through fiction extracts, non-fiction texts, and poetry. This informs their subsequent study of Shelley’s novel ‘Frankenstein’.
After the Christmas break, pupils explore prejudice and discrimination through fiction extracts, non-fiction texts, and poetry. This informs their subsequent study of Lee’s novel ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.
The final term sees pupils explore mental health through fiction extracts, non-fiction texts, and poetry. This informs their subsequent study of Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’.
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.