English is at the centre of the curriculum, providing a gateway to all other learning. Knowing how to read, write and speak gives access to the lives which we live.
Reading is a way to discover the world: from the early attachment of language to images, to building words and knowledge through phonics, reading increasingly challenging texts, students gain access to other minds and other times. Through reading fiction and non-fiction, students will gain new vocabulary, to allow them to articulate their own ideas. We teach literary terminology and promote critical reading so students understand how writers’ methods create meaning. We read texts, across time and genre, to ensure that students understand that each text is a construct, embedded within its context, as well as its form and its genre. We encourage students to be discerning readers who develop independent tastes and who can make connections between texts. Our aim is to create life-long readers who view books as a source of inspiration, comfort and companionship.
From the outset, students learn the conventions of accurate writing; students are taught to write purposefully and clearly to express their thoughts, ideas and feelings. Writing for functional real-world purposes helps them to prepare for the demands of adulthood. Students will appreciate the qualities of good writing and base their own on models of excellence. Students craft their writing for effect and impact, with opportunities for planning, drafting and reviewing.
In Speaking and Listening activities, students learn to express their ideas aloud and we encourage them to find their individual voices. They learn how to articulate a point of view and respond to others with sensitivity. We prepare students to be confident, skilled speakers in formal and informal situations. Equally importantly, we prepare them to be thoughtful, attentive and evaluative listeners.
To view a copy of the English Learning Journeys from KS2-4 click here.
Key Stage 3:
At Key Stage 3, students will engage with a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts ranging from Shakespeare to Morpurgo. Year 7s begin the year studying literature of reflection and students spend their time honing their analytical skills and consolidating their understanding of important literary terms. This understanding and knowledge acquisition is then demonstrated through their writing; students practise their writing skills through narrative and biographical writing. Texts such as ‘Private Peaceful’ afford students the opportunity to enjoy reading a fiction text which offers contextual interest and encourages students to appreciate narrative hooks, characterisation and methods. By this point in their learning, our students are ready for the challenge of 19th century literature, and they get to study works such as ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ and ‘Treasure Island’. In this unit, students engage with sophisticated and unfamiliar vocabulary as well as appreciating story structure and building awareness of the context of exploration. The Year 7s finally arrive at Shakespeare, in the summer term, in a thrilling unit entitled ‘Villains & Heroes’: throughout this unit, pupils encounter some of the best-loved characters of all time: Shylock, Iago, Richard III and Macbeth, to name a few.
Year 8's commence their learning journey in the Autumn term with Twists & Terror - a gothic fiction unit in which students have the opportunity to engage with some of the most feared literary figures, including none other than the ‘Woman In Black’. Reading and writing skills are assessed in the form of an analytical response and an original, creative writing piece. Students develop their knowledge of the development of the English language through a study of non-fiction and fiction texts. Students are challenged by Chaucer and spurred on by Shakespeare, before they reach the modern era. Having secured a good understanding of the English language, its origins and derivations, the students then move on to study classic Victorian literature, namely in the form of ‘Oliver Twist’. Students’ contextual appreciation and understanding is developed here as they begin to comprehend how literary works are influenced by societal and historical factors. Shakespeare once again completes the students’ learning journey, but this time they are able to appreciate Shakespeare’s comedy. ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ allows students to consider the presentation of gender and attitudes to women.
In Year 9, the students study Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice & Men’. During this unit, the students will appreciate classic American literature which presents challenging and thought-provoking themes. Students are encouraged to engage positively with the writer’s ideas and they produce an essay which enhances their reading skills and language analysis. In the second half term, students will study poetry from the Love & Relationships cluster of the GCSE anthology: this provides students with a flavour of what is to come in year 10 and also builds upon their analytical skills. Next, students study a piece of drama: ‘Blood Brothers’; this unit enables students to appreciate the dramatic form. This study also prepares the students for the ‘Romeo & Juliet’ unit at the end of the year. At the beginning of the summer term, the students complete a unit of work entitled: Criminal Minds - during this unit, students will look at a range of extracts pertaining to the criminal/detective genre.
In Years 10 and 11, students follow the AQA GCSE English Language and English Literature specifications (see course information here). Over the course of the two years, the pupils study the following texts for their English Literature exams:
19th century novel: A Christmas Carol
Modern text: An Inspector Calls
Poetry: AQA Anthology: Power & Conflict cluster
By the end of the course, we aim for all of our students to be confident about the required knowledge for their texts, including the plot, characters, themes, relevant contextual information, and the writer’s intentions. We will achieve this through knowledge rich lessons which challenge our students to engage with the texts critically, considering alternative interpretations as well as articulating their own informed opinions. This course of study will be supplemented by targeted intervention, parent revision sessions, and regular formative assessment opportunities.
For English Language, students prepare for two examination papers:
Paper 1 - Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing, and
Paper 2 - Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives.
Over the course of their language studies, our students will encounter a range of social topics and engage with these through debate and discussion. We will also spend time reviewing and building on the core English skills: writing, reading comprehension, language analysis, and informed responses. All of these skills are the basis for the English Language GCSEs and, as such, we aim to provide students with the surest footing before their exams by offering intervention opportunities in these areas.
Assessment in English
Throughout the English programme of study, we assess our students in a variety of ways, both formally and within lessons.
In everyday lessons, students' progress within each lesson will be assessed through their ability to respond to the lesson’s Learning Question, allowing for our staff to monitor the progress of the group. Students may also be assessed using low stakes quizzes/questioning regarding the knowledge of their texts or language techniques. These low stakes quizzes afford staff the chance to ensure that the required information has been acquired, especially important when navigating GCSE Literature texts.
In regards to formative assessments, students are assessed in three key ways - reading assessments, writing assessments, and speaking and listening assessments.
During a reading assessment, we will be looking at the ability of a student to respond to the text, using details from the text to support their views, and explaining these details. We are also looking at whether students are able to identify the methods that the writer has used and comment on why the writer may have done this.
In a writing assessment, students will be set a creative task either asking for narrative, descriptive or persuasive writing. All writing assessments will check the technical accuracy of students (spellings, punctuation, and grammar) as well as the ability of students to respond to the task in the correct format. This means that if a student is asked to write a letter, they include the features of a letter in their response. We also consider the student’s use of language, and any appropriate language devices (similes, metaphors, personification) and how this is all brought together to create their piece.
When students are assessed for speaking and listening, we are looking at two key areas - the ability for a student to address an audience (of varying sizes, but never bigger than their class) as well as how they engage with other people’s speeches/presentations. This is assessed throughout KS3 and KS4 to prepare students for the Spoken Language Endorsement part of their GCSE, where they must deliver a short speech to the group. The key skills during these assessments, as specified by the exam boards, are the ability to be heard, speak in standard English, and meet the aim of their presentation. An overview of the KS3 and 4 assessments can be seen below: