Subjects

Open Evening Wednesday 29th September

English

Intent

We believe that an English curriculum should educate hearts as well as minds, so our English curriculum is designed to meet several aims.  The first of these is building pupils’ understanding of the threshold concepts which underpin the effective study of English Literature and English Language.  Starting from Year 7, learning has been designed to develop a solid understanding of concepts such as characterisation, perspectives, context, setting and representation.  Through studying a range of challenging texts, pupils are introduced to a range of writers and are supported in building a foundation for further study.

In line with the ethos of the school, we believe that at its heart, an English curriculum is about more than reading and writing, but should also help to guide our pupils on their journeys to become fully fledged individuals who understand their place in our world: as such we have woven virtues into our curriculum design.  We have carefully selected the virtues which not only best support the texts we have chosen, but also help us to have moral and critical class discussions around the qualities which we want pupils to emulate.

Our curriculum supports and embeds whole school strategies to support literacy, as we focus specifically on improving pupils’ ability to express themselves in writing and to interpret texts. A further aim of our curriculum is to diversify pupils’ experiences of reading so that they are exposed to a wide range of writers, whilst also building their understanding of the key writers who they will meet at the end of their journey through the GCSE examinations.  Whilst meeting the requirements of the National Curriculum in what we teach, we also aim to promote wider reading through reading aloud to pupils for pleasure.

Our vision for the teaching of English is to inspire enjoyment and engagement in literature, and to foster the skills which enable strong communication.  We want our pupils to be able to move on to their next steps as articulate individuals who have gained the qualifications and skills needed for whatever they choose to pursue.

Implementation

Our curriculum is taught by selecting texts which enable us to teach each virtue and concept, and to assess how far pupils have understood the threshold concepts.  Because we understand that these concepts take time to master fully, we have interleaved the study of concepts so that they are revisited and developed throughout the course of study.  By the time pupils reach GCSE, they will have an understanding of how writers create characters, settings, present perspectives and use texts as constructs representing wider ideas.  This makes the GCSE more accessible to all.  All pupils complete English Language and English Literature GCSEs, meaning they have a rich experience.  We also use the Entry Level English qualification with a selected group of students so that all pupils leave Beckets with a qualification in English, regardless of ability.

We teach our curriculum using strategies which promote good learning, with all teachers live modelling in class to help pupils to understand how to develop their own writing.  The English department introduces each week’s whole school word of the week, and uses this explicitly in the lessons.  We also directly scaffold and teach sentence types which will enable pupils to communicate their ideas in writing.  This also allows us to teach in a mixed ability environment, as teachers scaffold the learning whilst teaching to the excellence criteria for each piece of work.  When there is a specific need, we do teach a small selection of pupils who have low prior attainment in a smaller class.  Similarly, specific intervention is put in place where there is a direct need.

Our SOLO learner plans are designed to support us in assessing pupils’ understanding of the threshold concepts, and to help us to assess their general progress in reading and writing skills.  Before the GCSE courses begin, assessment in the English curriculum is focused around teachers being able to judge how far pupils have mastered a particular concept and how much knowledge of contexts and writers they have gained.  We communicate formatively with pupils by using whole class feedback and modelling improvements to common mistakes, and summatively through the sharing of where the work lies within the criteria for SOLO or GCSE success.  We have also begun to use comparative judgment as a method to judge the quality of writing at Key Stage 3, and this is something we will develop over the coming years.  It allows us to standardise and moderate our marking and to find common misconceptions and errors so that we can adapt our teaching to the needs of our cohorts.

Impact

In English lessons from Year 7, pupils are taught the skills which will later enable them to tackle their GCSEs to their potential. However, throughout the course of study, they also learn to be critical thinkers, speakers and writers who are able to express their opinions about the world they live in. This is an essential skill for every next step they might take.

Pupil voice will be used to measure the impact of changes to the curriculum, evaluating how far it engages them in their learning.

BfL is analysed after each data collection, and actions discussed on a departmental level.

In Key Stage 3, SOLO criteria tracks whether work is foundation, developing, secure or excellent, and this is measured against KS2 attainment to produce a SOLO gear, which is tracked and monitored by teachers so that intervention can be put in place where necessary.

In Key Stage 4, all pupils complete both English Language and English Literature, with some pupils also completing the Entry Level qualification.  Following mock examinations, parents are contacted where concerns have been raised over effort or progress, and likewise to praise excellent behaviour for learning in preparation for examinations.

GCSE results show an upward trajectory in pupils securing grades 7 and above in both English Language and Literature.  No More Marking has shown that the Year 7 cohort have improved in writing since September.  Despite having a lower starting point than other schools, the pupils’ scaled scores have improved at a steeper trajectory than other schools.  This demonstrates how our focus on explicit sentence instruction is having a positive impact on pupils’ writing.

 

English
KS3  

The main aim of our Key Stage 3 curriculum in English is to nurture a confident engagement in literature. Building upon the knowledge and skills from Key Stage 2, we are also looking ahead to prepare our pupils for the knowledge and skills they will need for GCSE success.

We want all pupils to have a rich knowledge and understanding of literature from the 19th, 20th and 21st century, so we have chosen a range of interesting, diverse and challenging texts which cover engaging themes and ideas.

Our new Key Stage 3 curriculum is a virtues curriculum, exploring how some of the most important virtues and values are shown through literature.

Throughout Key Stage 3, pupils will gain insight into novels, plays and poetry.  They will also engage in creative writing of their own.

KS4 We follow the AQA specification for English Language and Edexcel for English Literature.

Currently, the Literature texts we study are Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestley, and an Anthology of Relationships poetry published by Edexcel.

Through the careful preparation for the Literature exams, pupils also learn the skills needed to analyse unseen and unfamiliar texts for English Language.

Weekly revision sessions are available for any Year 10 or 11 pupil who wishes to extend their learning and consolidate their knowledge further.

General The English department is passionate about its subject.  We are always looking for ways to improve the provision for all of the pupils we teach, and update the curriculum regularly to build in exciting and relevant new approaches to teaching.

English is taught in mixed ability classes from Years 7 through to 11, although we have the potential to create one small class per year group for pupils who may require more support. We are committed to an inclusive approach, which suits our subject well, supporting all pupils to grow in confidence. It also allows for smaller than average GCSE classes, compared to other schools.

The GCSE examinations are un-tiered, and so all pupils will sit the same examinations at the end of Year 11; this is another reason why the mixed ability approach works so well for the English department.