English forms the basis for our development, relationships and our understanding of the world around us. The study of English is key to our personal growth and, through the development of effective written and spoken communication, it is the foundation for all our learning. The ability to communicate effectively, confidently and with clarity is crucial in school, but also in becoming an effective participant in our wider society with skills of communication being key to accessing the world of work and in navigating adult life. In a fast paced, global world the importance of fluent written and spoken English is crucial and it is essential that we develop these skills through an effective English curriculum.
From Year 7, students will be building on the foundations of the primary curriculum through a systematic exposure to a wide range of high-quality literature. We not only promote reading for enjoyment to ignite a curiosity in students, but also as a way of acquiring knowledge and exploring the world in ways that develop a student’s cultural and emotional intellect. Our Secondary Reading Strategy recognises the barriers students face in accessing challenging texts such as: complexity of narrator, non-linear time sequences, complexity of story or archaic texts and encourages students to confidently explore and probe the literal and layered meanings in the texts they read. Through our curriculum we actively encourage students to develop their close reading skills so they can confidently and methodically break down the language and structure of a complex passage to establish and analyse meaning. Furthermore, in order to develop accountable and independent readers, we have designed a curriculum which requires different types or layers of reading which is supported by text dependent questions and where possible, with mastery shown through a range of writing opportunities
As our students progress through the English curriculum, they are continually developing their close reading skills through exposure to increasingly challenging fiction and non-fiction, which include works by 19th, 20th and 21st century writers. We want our students to be able to engage with a range of texts with confidence and to develop their skills in decoding difficult texts, gathering carefully selected evidence, evaluating texts in detail and possessing the ability to explore multiple texts simultaneously to formulate and articulate personal viewpoints. The development of these skills feeds directly into their study of spoken language and the importance of verbal communication in accessing the world around them. Opportunities have been created for students to debate and discuss their ideas through a range of individual and group presentations, speeches, performing plays and reading aloud. We firmly believe that exposure to a range of opportunities builds a confidence in students and allows them to develop their life-long skills in verbal communication.
Confidence, control and accuracy in a range of writing is developed through frequent opportunities to write for a range of audiences and purposes. It is important that students use writing as an opportunity to formulate and develop their ideas and in using writing as a way to think critically about a topic and express their point of view. Across all writing activities, students are exposed to the importance of accuracy and the ability for students to construct and revise sentences for effect and impact is vital. In order to develop their skills, students are encouraged to expand their use of vocabulary through probing and investigating the nuances of language in order to enhance their written expression and clarity.
The English curriculum in our schools is robust and systematic in exposing students to effective challenge, so they can build and refine long-lasting skills for the future. Subsequently, we offer a curriculum which has appropriate challenge for all students and aims to allow students to flourish in the skills required for success in their chosen KS4 and post 16 pathways.
Key Stage 3
In Years 7, 8 and 9 the aim is to encourage students to engage with both non-fiction texts and a range of literature including contemporary fiction, poetry and plays. Students explore features of theme, language, and structure and are then provided with opportunities to replicate such features in their own writing.
Students in KS3 have four English lessons every week. For Y7 & Y8, one of those lessons is an LRC (Learning Resource Centre) lesson. The LRC lesson provides students with an opportunity to choose from a wide range of reading materials that interests and challenges them. During the LRC lessons we explore different texts on our Reading Routes initiative. There’s also dedicated independent reading time followed by the chance to take a quiz on their chosen text using Accelerated Reader which tests their comprehension and allows us to track their reading progress.
The types of texts being studied across Key Stage 3 (Y7, Y8 and Y9) include:
Complete novels looking closely at the author’s craft
Drama units, which may cover a whole play or key extracts
Non-fiction units of work
Supplementary materials such as poetry that’s thematically linked to the core text
In terms of lesson content, all units of work use a wide range of engaging learning activities to ensure progress, accuracy and to develop an appreciation of language and literature. We embed regular speaking and listening opportunities as well as both fiction and non-fiction writing opportunities.
Key Stage 4
At Key Stage 4 (Y10 and Y11), students build on the skills developed at KS3 and prepare for GCSEs in English Language and English Literature.
GCSE English Language allows students to demonstrate their ability to use English in real life contexts and uses an investigative and analytical approach to language topics drawing on personal experience.
The course involves assessment on three different aspects of English:
Reading and responding to a variety of different texts, including both fiction and non-fiction.
Writing for different audiences and purposes: how to write in several different styles so that you can craft your writing with a consideration of who is reading it, what the purpose is and what form it should take.
Speaking and listening: how to speak and listen in a variety of contexts. For example, how to deliver individual presentations as well as learn how to work effectively in pairs or groups.
In addition to the core GCSE English Language course, students also study GCSE English Literature. This GCSE requires students to explore texts from a personal perspective and focuses on a skills-based approach to the study of literature.
Texts studied as part of GCSE English Literature include:
Romeo and Juliet
A Christmas Carol
An Inspector Calls
A range of poetry with the following themes: love/relationships, war/conflict, power/ambition, place/identity and nature.