The Aims of the English Department
The English Department plays a vital part in the curriculum since language is the medium for most learning that occurs; therefore, the department can directly affect the success of a pupil’s learning. We take this very seriously and aim to develop engaging and challenging schemes of work that cover a diverse range of genres and time periods. We aim to make these topical and occasionally, controversial in order to encourage pupils to be independent and critical thinkers who will grow up to be responsible and discerning democratic citizens.
Overall, we aim to ensure that each pupil makes excellent progress in English through their enjoyment of the subject. For some pupils their experience of English lessons may foster a lifelong enjoyment of reading and a degree in English Literature, for others achievement may be found in finally mastering how to express their ideas clearly. Although we strive to achieve excellent examination results the factor that we ultimately pride ourselves on is the degree of progress made by each individual, regardless of whether they achieve a grade 9 or a grade 1.
Marking and Assessment
In Years 7-9, pupils are given a draft English book for the majority of their classwork and notes. They also have a larger book for neat work and assessment pieces. These are generally done near the end of a topic and will focus on either reading or writing skills. Each piece is marked according to a small number of core skills that we feel are essential for strong GCSE preparation and which we re-visit in each assessment, such as paragraphing, vocabulary, spelling and structure. Prior to the removal of levels, we used the APP grids to assess each piece; we are currently reviewing these grids to ensure that they further compliment the skills required for the new GCSE and will add this to the website as soon as these are completed.
At the end of each year students take end of term examinations in the style of the GCSE English Language papers in order to familiarise themselves at a lower level with the layout of the papers and the reading demands associated with them.
Exercise books are marked regularly; though as they are largely used for drafting and notes, the neat books containing pupils’ final assessment pieces tend to be where specific targets are recorded. All pupils will have copies of the reading and writing assessment criteria at the back of their exercise books to refer to when they receive feedback on assessment pieces and more extended pieces of writing.
Lessons at KS3
Pupils cover a range of units across KS3, designed to challenge and engage all abilities. Our long term plan for KS3 can be seen on the website; writers studied range from Shakespeare, and Chaucer through to seminal world authors such as ‘John Steinbeck’ and contemporary writers such as Benjamin Zephaniah and Anthony Horowitz. Text types include poetry, plays, non-fiction, the study of complete fiction texts and media texts. We review our units annually and are often refreshing our syllabus to keep up to date with current writing and to ensure that our programme of study continues to engage all learners.
In Year 9 we aim to focus more explicitly on preparing pupils for the demands of the new style GCSEs and therefore units offer more challenging content such as the study of world literature with controversial content such as ‘Of Mice and Men.’
Each year ends with a speaking and listening activity designed to boost pupils’ verbal communication and confidence skills. In Year 7 pupils need to prepare a talk on a topic of their choice and present this back to the class, these ranged from famous sports personalities through to the events leading up to 9/11 and the mystery surrounding the Bermuda Triangle! As pupils move further up the school we encourage them to extend their presentations and to incorporate persuasive and rhetorical devices for effect. Last year’s Year 8 pupils prepared outstanding persuasive speeches on topics as varied as Brexit, animal rights, gun laws, and the importance of the arts within the British education system.
At GCSE all pupils study for GCSEs in both English Language and English Literature. An outline of the course can be accessed on our website, or on AQA’s site directly. Literature texts include ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ ‘Romeo and Juliet’ ‘An Inspector Calls’ and the ‘Power and Conflict’ poetry anthology.
In Years 10/11 assessment is done according to GCSE grade criteria. All formal examination or timed pieces are marked with coversheets which match the band criteria so that pupils see their progress throughout the course.