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 and 8. 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 more recently we have worked with the Broughton Hall Children’s Literature Festival. A recent 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 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 ‘Growing Up’ which builds on prior attainment through liaison with key primary feeder schools. Other themes at Key Stage Three include, for instance: ‘Through the Ages’ and our popular ‘Mysteries’ unit. ‘Through the Ages’ 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 ‘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 considerable flexibility and personalisation. This is done through highly experienced teachers providing routine challenge and support to every class. Differentiation is evident through a variety 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 at least have 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 ...
Whole Class Reader
Teacher chosen choice of text.
Writing skills that develop pupil’s ability to present an argument.
UWS Anthology of poems.
It’s a Mystery
Fiction and non-fiction extracts alongside poetry that share the theme of ‘Mystery’.
A Shakespeare Play
Teacher chosen choice of text and scenes.
|The Victorians||A selection of Victorian literature extracts including study of the era and culture.|
|Class Reader||Variety of texts – possibly ‘Ruby in the Smoke’, ‘Street Child’ or ‘Paupers’.|
|Descriptive/ Narrative Writing||Use of visual stimulus to promote descriptive writing. Narrative writing skills and structuring covered.|
|Survival||A range of fiction and non-fiction texts and extracts including poetry that explore the same theme.|
|Pre-Read Shakespeare Text||Teacher choice of text.|
|Speaking & Listening||Whole class presentations and individual presentations on set themes.|
Paper 1 Skills – Gothic Literature
UWS produced anthology of extracts from major 19th century gothic works, including ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Dracula’.
Paper 2 Skills
A variety of non-fiction extracts to be studied and GCSE style skills addressed.
‘A Christmas Carol’ GCSE Text
Pre-read of the GCSE 19th century text.
Descriptive/ Narrative Writing
Skills taught and practiced across a range of descriptive and narrative tasks.
Poetry terminology, approaches to unseen texts and poetry structure is taught.
‘Animal Farm’ GCSE Text
Pre-read of the GCSE Modern Novel.
The AQA GCSE Specifications for both English Language and English Literature are followed by all students at Key Stage Four. These courses are taught con-currently 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 either – ‘Macbeth’ or ‘The Tempest’ 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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