The English team comprises five dedicated full-time teaching staff. Our team shares a genuine love of language and literature and a passion for reading - something we strive to share with our students. We support the school’s values by developing our students’ Creativity, Responsibility and Wisdom in all of our lessons:
- We encourage a creative approach to texts, so students learn to ‘read between the lines’ to uncover meanings as well as developing their own creative writing skills
- We promote a responsible and helpful approach to learning, through a balance of independent, paired and group tasks in lessons
- We seek to foster the wisdom that grows from reading the work of great writers and applying their insights to the world around us
As a forward-thinking department, we understand the need for our English curriculum to be always evolving, adapting to the needs of individual learners now, and for their future. This includes making full use of our exceptional IT facilities, which include student iPads and software licences giving us access to PiXL, SAM Learning and Accelerated Reader resources, to name a few. Our students have a wealth of apps to choose from via their iPads to support their learning in English, and we are excited to be developing our use of Apple’s new Schoolwork app this year.
We regularly review our own progress as a department and work hard to keep improving, always looking for innovative ways to challenge our students and enable them to make the fastest progress possible. Our school’s most recent Ofsted inspection report highlighted “the many positive developments taking place in English.” The inspectors found that “in English, pupils receive very clear guidance about how to improve their work. This helps pupils make progress.” The report went on to say that “a greater proportion of pupils, particularly at key stage 3, are developing the knowledge, skills and understanding required to catch up. There is increasing evidence that pupils’ progress is accelerating, particularly in English.”
Team and roles within the team
- Mr Paddison: CTL English (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Mrs Mitchell: Teacher of English (email@example.com)
- Mrs Hesketh: Second in English (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Mr Power: Teacher of English (email@example.com)
- Miss Kendall: Teacher of English (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Our KS3 English curriculum is divided into schemes of learning to cover Reading, Writing, and Speaking and Listening skills, providing opportunities for the study of whole novels, poetry, drama (including Shakespeare), non-fiction and media texts. Alongside these units students also read a wide selection of books they have chosen from our catalogue of ‘Accelerated Reading' books.
Selected students also follow the ‘Read Write Inc’ program to further support reading skills. Wherever possible, we link the topics we cover in English to our new Creative Curriculum, to support science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) projects in particular, and to further inspire students to see how skills developed in English can help the study of other subjects. We place an emphasis on spelling and handwriting as part of our work in English lessons, and this is supported by regular spelling tests and prizes for well presented work.
This year students in KS3 will be enjoying reading War Horse, Private Peaceful and Maggot Moon, along with Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, and The Tempest, a range of war and modern poetry, and a selection of non-fiction texts linked to their reading.
We also offer a range of extra-curricular activities to support our timetabled lessons. As well as organising regular theatre trips and educational workshops in school, we recently launched a KS3 Creative Writing Club, to encourage students to enter a wide range of local and national writing competitions.
In Years 7 and 8 we use a range of assessment methods to measure student progress in English. We use the Star Reading test regularly to track improvements in students’ reading ages, helping us to match appropriate texts to students to support more rapid development of reading skills. We also use KS3 assessment materials produced by national exam boards, designed to support the development of core skills used at GCSE level in English Language and English Literature.
Students are formally assessed in reading and writing every term, enabling teachers to identify new skills and knowledge gained, and to work with students to produce 'feedforward' tasks designed to address any gaps in learning.
Students commence our GCSE courses in English Language and English Literature in Year 9, following the AQA specifications for both qualifications. The courses for both GCSEs are varied and challenging, providing students with the opportunity to engage with classic texts such as A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, drama texts including Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers, and extracts from a variety of modern novels, plays, and non-fiction texts.
Students also study a set of fifteen poems from the AQA anthology, based on the theme of ‘Power and Conflict,’ alongside being taught the skills needed to analyse a previously unseen poem.
Supporting the KS4 curriculum, students are encouraged to participate in extra-curricular events such as theatre trips, creative writing competitions, and a popular KS4 after school club.
We use a range of assessment materials produced by AQA and PiXL to assess progress in English at GCSE level. During KS4, students sit a series of practice exam papers in the hall where their final exams will take place, to help familiarise them with the examination room. We also deliver 'Walking Talking Mocks' where teachers demonstrate how to approach the questions in the time students will have for their real exam. Several members of our department are experienced GCSE examiners who also readily share their knowledge to support students in preparing for the exams in Year 11.
Speaking and Listening skills are assessed through a Non-Examined Assessment, which is internally marked and externally moderated by AQA. Students will have the opportunity to prepare for this assessment during their tutor-led PSHE lessons in 2018/19, to support the work of the English department and to help students to see how the skills they have learnt in English lessons are transferrable.
Useful Website Links
www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/gcse - our exam board's specifications for English Language (8700) and English Literature (8702), with sample exam papers and mark schemes
www.englishbiz.co.uk/ - general English skills
www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english/ - general English skills
www.revisioncentre.co.uk/gcse/english/ - general English skills
www.guardian.co.uk – useful for reading a wide range of well written non-fiction articles in preparation for GCSE English Language
www.gutenberg.org – a website where full text online versions of set texts for GCSE English Literature can be accessed, free of charge
www.bibliomania.com - a website where full text online versions of set texts for GCSE English Literature can be accessed, free of charge
www.samlearning.com - assessment objective focused English skills
www.bbc.co.uk/newsround - BBC Newsround offers consise, student friendly news reports. Great for practicising summary skills and for keeping up with current affairs to support debating skills
www.bl.uk/discovering-literature - a catalogue of digitised examples or literature from different periods in history, from the British Library
Fun games – spelling and grammar