Mrs J Sedgley-Chiles
Ms S Bettany
Miss L Hassall
Miss C Mountford
Miss A Walker
Mrs M Wright
English is at the core of everything that we do as humans, forming the basis of all forms of communication in which we engage. With this in mind, our intent in the English department is to provide pupils with an excellent foundation in written and spoken English in order to be fully integrated into all aspects of life, both in and out of education.
The teaching of English at King Edward’s is carefully planned to encompass both Language and Literature from Year 7, working towards the examination years but with an emphasis on pupils developing a love of writing, reading, speaking and literature. Examination skills and vocabulary are embedded from the day they start at the school, but in such a way that they are not overwhelmed with the prospect of GCSEs; we want them to enjoy the subject so that they are fully engaged in English throughout the school.
What do we teach?
Key Stage 3
Our curriculum is based on the key elements of the 2014 National Curriculum document, with a core emphasis on:
Spoken language: our curriculum is designed to cover all aspects of English, including the oral and aural mediums. To this end, the formal half termly assessments include some that are focused on speech-giving and presentations. In addition, our teaching fully encourages pupils to engage in discussions and questioning activities in every lesson utilising a wide range of questioning and prediction methods including Bloom’s Taxonomy in order to make predictions, approach their studies in a critical manner, and for teachers to check understanding.
Reading: the KS3 curriculum at King Edward’s has been carefully mapped-out to give our pupils a broad and rich diet of prose, poetry and drama across time, starting with early English texts in Year 7 through to modern plays, poems and novels in Year 9, and focusing on plot, character, setting and the impact on a reader or audience. Key elements in each time period and genre are taught in order to ensure that pupils have an innate understanding of the importance of the changing contexts: an element that is central to GCSE and A Level study in English. The department is not afraid to challenge pupils with the text choices, and it is the delivery of the work, rather than the texts themselves that are differentiated, in order to ensure that all of our pupils receive the same rich diet regardless of their ability. Our pupils’ broad knowledge is then honed at GCSE level, where aspects of genre and context are revisited in more depth in order to solidify their earlier teaching and understanding. For example, extracts studied in Year 8 as part of the Victorian Life unit form the basis of our GCSE teaching on pre-1900 Literature texts. Through this broad KS3 curriculum, pupils are introduced to new vocabulary within the context of the texts which in turn aids their own language breadth.
In addition, the functional use of English is both explicitly and implicitly taught. The eight central fiction and non-fiction writing types (creative writing, leaflets, formal & informal letters, articles, reviews, reports and speeches) are written into our curriculum, being regularly revisited and consistently taught across all year groups.
Writing: through their study of reading and literature, pupils are encouraged to write in a variety of mediums. The general premise is for pupils to study and critically appraise a range of reading materials and genres in order to then reproduce the variety of styles in their own writing: it is important to appreciate and analyse how others have created a piece in order to enjoy similar success in one’s own writing. Therefore, reading and writing are wholly complimentary in our curriculum. Pupils are taught the importance of persuasive writing, rhetoric, bias and argument, as well as focusing on the importance of layout, tone and structure. The key to writing is established through the genre, audience and purpose and as such, these elements are explicitly taught across all years. Through our marking policy of pupils having time to give direct responses to teacher feedback, our learners are taught the importance of editing, whilst planning, drafting and proof-reading are explicitly covered in our planning and teaching.
In addition to writing methods and opportunities that are complementary to our set curriculum, all KS3 pupils experience weekly one-off ‘writing challenges’ that are stand-alone tasks required to stimulate the imagination, and encourage a diverse and fluent approach to a wide range of fiction and factual tasks. These lessons offer challenging opportunities for pupils to write, whilst giving them a set ‘recipe’ of things to include in order to broaden their vocabulary and rhetorical devices; self and peer-marking also encourages pupils to proof-read and edit their own work whilst seeing successful examples from their peers.
The department SPaG recognises the importance of a solid foundation of technical accuracy in written and spoken English. To that end, weekly skills lessons are taught in line with a department-led scheme that covers the basics of grammar, punctuation and spelling. This scheme can be made bespoke by our teaching staff according to the needs of individual learners.
The formal half-termly assessments have been planned to ensure that all of the above are taught and assessed on a regular basis, using the language and format utilised at GCSE examination level; this is to ensure that our pupils are very familiar with the structure, expectations, mark schemes and assessment methods used at GCSE level from when they first arrive at the school.
The department teaches to the Eduqas GCSE English Language and English Literature specification. The courses are taught collaboratively, though pupils achieve two separate grades.
GCSE skills work starts in Year 9, with pupils looking at specific aspects of GCSE English Language reading and writing requirements during weekly lessons.
The skills of analysis, essay writing and critical response are taught throughout Year 9, though GCSE Literature texts are not explicitly taught until the Summer term of Year 9.
Throughout Year 10 and Year 11, pupils have specific weekly lessons set aside to cover the English Language skills requirements. Each term, the focus changes in order to cover the reading and writing units of the fiction and non-fiction GCSE papers. The study of each unit culminates in pupils sitting a formal test on the specific component that has been taught.
The GCSE English Literature requires considerably more content teaching and consequently, more teaching time is given over to this aspect of the course. The department’s overview allows a complete term for the teaching of each core text, with additional opportunity for texts to be revisited.
English is taught in sets, allowing class teachers to differentiate work according to the needs of individual pupils.
The department meets on a regular basis, allowing for collaborative planning and the sharing of resources. On such occasions, pupil progress is discussed and pupils are redirected to different sets as and when necessary; this is aided by the fact that all English staff teach to the stipulated curriculum, making movement between sets straightforward.
Smaller sets are achieved for pupils who find the work challenging to access; teachers here are supported to teach their pupils in the most productive manner, using repetition and time-managed units of work to good effect.
Pupils in the higher sets are offered more challenge in their teaching, with an increased sense of independence in their learning. Such pupils are actively encouraged to embark upon A Level English courses, with wider reading being offered to any pupil who wishes to do so.
The department is developing a range of opportunities for our pupils, including theatre visits, the national Poetry by Heart competition, and involvement in the Shakespeare Schools’ Festival.
The department follows AQA (specification A; option B) for A Level Literature, and AQA English Language.
A Level Literature draws on the principles established at GCSE, looking at a range of prose, poetry and drama from across the ages, considering the importance of context, the techniques adopted by the writer, links within and between texts, and the impact on an audience or reader. Form and genre are key to teaching at this level, with pupils seeing live performances of a range of interpretations where possible.
The AQA option allows for pupils to complete a non-examined assessment, worth 20% of the final grade. This is an excellent opportunity for students to develop a sense of autonomy in their studies, and perhaps laying the foundation for higher study at university.
A Level Language encourages students to explore language across time in order to understand our changing world. Reading and writing analysis is a core aspect of the course, with a 20% non-examined assessment allowing for independent study on an aspect of the student’s choice. Functional language and its place in modern society (gender/power/socio-economic situations) are studied so that students have a thorough understanding of how language (both spoken and written) shapes our world today.
In addition, students will receive thorough teaching of grammatical, structural and contextual components of a wide range of fiction and non-fiction examples.