The English curriculum is designed with two broad aims in mind: to provide students with the vital literacy skills necessary to lead successful lives in the modern world, and to foster an appreciation for literature written in the English language. This development of all literacy skills –reading, writing and oracy – also allows students to access the broader curriculum whilst simultaneously creating literate, knowledgeable students through creative engagement with texts.
The wider English curriculum aims to develop lifelong readers: this has a beneficial impact across school in general. The Accelerated Reader scheme is an important aspect of our work which involves all students in Years 7, 8 and 9. This allows us to promote reading for pleasure and at the same time, monitor, evaluate and review the impact that personal reading has on student progress. The Literacy Co-ordinator’s close working relationship with the English department is crucial to the success of Accelerated Reader. Based in the school library, the Literacy Co-ordinator promotes AR reading with form tutors and the school has a designated weekly tutorial slot for ‘Drop Everything and Read’. English colleagues also offer a range of opportunities for students to partake in enrichment opportunities such as nationally recognised writing competitions, for example. Links with the Bradford Literature Festival are well-established and in the past we have worked with the Broughton Hall Children’s Literature Festival. A trip to the highly-respected Poetry Live event for all Year 11 GCSE students was extremely well-received and the benefit of this enrichment was clearly evident in moderated assessed work, produced in preparation for the exam. Engagement in activities beyond lessons indicates that students benefit from these opportunities. Attendance at after school lessons for Year 11 is consistently strong as students benefit from teachers who also work as examiners for the taught AQA specifications.
Literacy intervention is an important part of the wider English curriculum. This is delivered by English specialists, ensuring progress is made in necessary areas, whether this be learning basic phonics or reading for inference, for example. Short-term interventions across the whole school, along with Year 7 catch-up groups, are designed to provide both challenge and support, ensuring that ‘excellence for all’ is offered and accessed wherever possible. Small group reading of literary canonical texts in lower school, aimed at stretching and challenging those with the highest prior attainment, is a typical example of such an aspirational intervention.
At Key Stage Three, we have developed a broad thematic approach to delivering a knowledge-rich curriculum which is both engaging yet with a high degree of challenge. Year 7 begins with a transition module entitled ‘New Adventures’ which builds on prior attainment through liaison with key primary feeder schools. Other themes at Key Stage Three include, for instance: ‘The Time Machine’ and our popular ‘It’s a Mystery’ unit. ‘The Time Machine’ is a unit of work in which students learn about the origins of modern English language and they learn about the development of the literary canon from Chaucer through Shakespeare, to Dickens and to the present day. In our ‘It’s a Mystery’ unit, a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry is covered in a creative and engaging way. For example students could experience the role of detective to solve intriguing cases, or they may present a casebook study to the class on a mystery of their choice.
These thematic modules support our school’s aim of ‘excellence for all’ through being tailored for the needs of the broad ability of our students. A wide range of high-quality resources allow for personalisation of the curriculum through adaptive teaching. This is done through our highly experienced teachers providing routine challenge and support to every class. Differentiation is evident through a range of strategies: grouping of students, variety of tasks, teacher intervention, adult in-class support, higher-order questioning and extension activities. Formative assessment is key to informing teachers’ planning so that aspects of the curriculum can be ‘sped up’ or ‘slowed down’ depending on levels of progress. However a teacher meets the needs of any particular class, the thematic approach will ensure that over the course of an academic year, all students will have gained the knowledge of our curriculum through having read a full novel, experienced high-quality poetry, analysed extracts from pre-20th century literature and explored literary non-fiction. In terms of writing, students are taught to be confident and adaptable. Narrative, descriptive, rhetorical and transactional writing are all taught explicitly and often in relation to texts which have been explored in class. Oracy is also prominent in lessons with teacher modelling of aspirational levels of articulacy and vocabulary. Students are offered opportunities to become highly confident speakers through both informal and formal presentations of their work. Student voice activities help the department to reflect on the quality of the curriculum, its delivery and its effectiveness.
Students focus on ...
Prose Study: Private Peaceful, Holes, Boy.
It’s a Mystery
Poetry: Flannan Isle; Drama: The Speckled Band; Literary non-fiction texts.
The Time Machine
Language change and development. Chaucer: The Miller’s Tale;
Drama: Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
|The Dark Side|
‘The Landlady’ Roald Dahl; Gothic in-house anthology; extracts from Macbeth/Frankenstein/Dracula; Frankenstein playscript.
Short stories: The Signalman, The Red Room, The Monkey’s Paw
Descriptive and narrative writing: gothic focus.
|Struggle for Survival|
Prose study: Of Mice and Men, Refugee, The Boy in Striped Pyjamas, Road of Bones, I am Malala.
Poetry: ‘Shema’, ‘Night of the Scorpion’, ‘After the Titanic’, ‘Blessing’
Range of literary non-fiction: eg from the World Holocaust Centre.
|The All-Seeing Eye|
Range of dystopian/utopian literature- eg ‘The Lottery’, ‘The Hunger Games’, ‘1984’
Reading focus – evaluation
Writing – Functional (article, speech, letter) about a current issue.
|A Victorian Christmas||Study Victorian society and Dickensian values. A Christmas Carol. Descriptive/narrative writing (Victoria context)|
|Window on the World||Range of C19, C20, C21 world literature and literary non-fiction texts studied. Speech/letter/article opinion writing|
|Power Corrupts||Orwell and Animal Farm. Unseen poetry and descriptive writing|
A range of STEM activities allow the students the opportunity to link learning in Design and Technology with Science and Maths in particular and are a major part of the curriculum for students in this subject. In years 7 and 8 there is a dedicated Deep Learning Day (DLD). Year 7 learn about the design of a rocket powered car for the Race for the Line competition. They then work in Design and Technology lessons in groups of four to build a car before racing them to select teams to represent the school at the regional final. In year 8 the DLD helps prepare students for the F1 in Schools competition in York – a competition we have been very successful in over the past three years.
Other opportunities are offered at lunchtimes with groups of students building three 3D printers and a CNC router over the last five years as well as students undertaking personal projects. Visits to engineering companies have included trips to Arconic in Sheffield and Guyson in Skipton with an upcoming trip planned to Rolls Royce in July.
UWS is also supported by Microsoft UK with talks and activities including a Hackathon organised for late June.
Students involved in these activities often work at a significantly higher level than their peers. They typically develop CAD skills that are outstanding allowing them to make much more effective use of our extensive range of CNC machines including routers, laser cutter and 3D printers. The proportion of high grades has risen and the subject is once again among the highest performing relative to national averages and subject residuals.
The development of these experiences over recent years has successfully reversed a trend where more able students and especially girls were not selecting D&T as a GCSE option and helped the subject to grow numbers even in the face of the short sighted eBACC.
The AQA GCSE Specifications for both English Language and English Literature are followed by all students at Key Stage Four. These courses are taught concurrently and they build on the foundations laid at Key Stage Three. For example, close textual analysis, knowledge of a range of language devices and socio-historical contextual information of key canonical works are all embedded prior to the start of Key Stage Four, providing students with invaluable knowledge on which to draw. AQA GCSE English Language requires students to respond to a range of fiction and literary non-fiction, demonstrating an ability to understand and evaluate these. Students also have to produce both creative and transactional texts of their own. AQA GCSE English Literature requires students to study all three genres: a Shakespeare play, a nineteenth century novel, a range of poetry, a modern text and unseen poetry appreciation. This English curriculum’s impact can be measured by the successful outcomes students enjoy in external examinations. The improving trend of results in English, indicate that the level of challenge in lessons is meeting the needs of students; the number of students who go on to choose English as a tertiary option in further education, demonstrates a high level of enjoyment too.
Paper 1 – Fiction
Reading – Unseen literature extract from 19th, 20th or 21st Century.
An extract from a piece of fiction chosen by the exam board and previously unseen.
Reading – 4 Questions
Comprehension, Language, Structure and Evaluation.
Writing – Choice of Narrative or Descriptive
Choice of task – Visual stimulus for a descriptive task – unseen OR unseen narrative writing task.
Paper 2 – Non-Fiction
Reading – Unseen non-fiction extract from 19th, 20th or 21st Century.
Two extracts from pieces of non-fiction chosen by the exam board and previously unseen.
Reading – 4 Questions
True and False, Summary, Language & Attitudes/ Values.
Writing – Point of View / Opinion
Writing your own opinion/ views on a subject given in the exam paper.
Paper 1 – Shakespeare & 19th Century Novel.
19th Century Novel
Extract based question on ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens.
Extract based question on ‘Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare.
Paper 2 – Modern Novel, AQA Poetry Anthology, Unseen Poetry and Unseen Poetry Comparison.
The Modern Novel
Choice of two questions based on ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell.
AQA Poetry Anthology
Comparison essay question based on the ‘Power and Conflict’ section of the AQA Poetry Anthology – 15 poems.
Exam board chosen poem for the exam.
Unseen Poetry Comparison
Exam board chosen poem for the exam – to be compared with the above.
KS3: Throughout the key stage, on-going formative assessment is routine, supported by more formal, summative assessment each half term. Assessments alternate between reading and writing and measure progress to targets as well as recording attainment.
KS4: Each half-term, a formal assessment will take place of one component of either English Language or English Literature. The two subjects are taught concurrently and assessments alternate between the two. The frequency and formality of these assessments increases as the course progresses. Formal examinations take place in Year 10 and again in the Autumn Term of Year 11.
External assessment at the end of Year 11 is 100% examination.
KS3: A variety of homework tasks are set and assessed across KS3. These include: research projects, learning of spellings, set reading, AR reading, essays, re-writing of key paragraphs, descriptive writing, narrative writing and opinion writing.
KS4: Much of the homework at KS4 is centred around the texts set for examination in English Literature. This will involve, amongst other activities, re-reading parts of set texts; studying poetry in greater depth having initially studied it in class; reading and responding to unseen poetry. In addition, students might be expected to prepare texts ahead of lessons and present their work to the class.
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