Head of English: Jacq Powell (firstname.lastname@example.org)
When someone asks: ‘Why do we study English?’, we feel the response should be easy! As a subject, we know that English is truly essential, offering ways of sensitively understanding the world around us, communicating within that world as active, global citizens and truly broadening horizons for our students to access the unique futures they want to pursue. What other subject offers the opportunity to invent an imaginary world, debate the issues of the real world, and learn from the history of a past world? Sometimes all in the same lesson!
In addition to all this, we believe English is a gateway to creativity and escapism. We encourage the creative freedom of our teachers and the inquisitive nature of our students, believing this approach leads to better, high-engagement teaching and learning experiences for everyone. We value the skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening equally, aiming to provide opportunities for students to develop confidence in all of these within our lessons and units of work.
- Debating Club – regular meetings to debate topical issues and the ‘big questions’ in life as well as develop public speaking skills.
- Reading Groups – book clubs for different year groups run by our wonderful Librarian, Miss Trowell.
- Regular creative writing competitions and events.
- Celebration of significant literary events (e.g. World Book Day) and regular ‘Library Events’ to shine a spotlight on reading as well as promote cultural and literary awareness.
- Weekly revision sessions for GCSE students as well as Quotes Club with Mr Sweet.
- Advanced English – an opportunity to experience a taster of where further study in English could take you…
The Big Picture
We know we are preparing students for life-changing qualifications and the skills required to succeed in these underpin our curriculum and teaching. But we also value and endorse the wider benefits that studying English offers our young people, perhaps best summarised here:
”Reading as a source of understanding and pleasure; writing as best developed by having something to say; and literature as a window to a wider human experience – who we are, how we may be and how others are interestingly different. English offers youngsters of all abilities a doorway to understanding, fulfilment and communication.” Peter Thomas -Chair of NATE
Instilling curiosity and confidence is at the heart of our KS3 curriculum and we are constantly reviewing and evaluating the relevance and engagement of our topics and units of work to suit the needs of students. As well as a broad and varied curriculum, we ensure that students build on skills and increase their level of challenge with parallel units over the course of the three years. Year 7 students start with a transition unit linked to their learning and topics from Year 6 and, by Year 9, students are starting to make the next transition to GCSE expectations, familiarising themselves with GCSE criteria and tackling GCSE-style questions and assessments.
Reading, writing and speaking and listening are all given prominence across the units in each year and all of these skills are assessed. Students will also gain some experience of Media-based topics, which introduce them to GCSE Media Studies as a potential future subject choice.
Reading for pleasure is promoted across all year groups and, in KS3, students will start each lesson with this activity: either reading independently or collaboratively with a shared class text. Likewise, all KS3 classes will undertake a literacy-focused starter each week to develop their written accuracy and grammar skills. This practice is further enhanced by our weekly Word Stories, which introduce students to a new word for their Vocabulary Glossary along with its etymology, morphology and ‘word family’.
Years 7 and 8 also enjoy a fortnightly library lesson, where they can read independently and explore a range of genres, writers and forms. For Year 9, we ensure a Library-based ‘event’ takes place each half term to promote and celebrate reading; this will often coincide with a national literary event or celebration. Year 9 also make use of Creative Writing Journals for one lesson each week, encouraging confidence and creativity in extended writing as well as offering students the chance to ‘workshop’ their writing and collaboratively work on improving literacy skills.