The English curriculum builds upon the skills already established in Key Stage 2, effectively embedding them in the students’ skillset, which involves working closely with colleagues from our Key Stage 2 team. The curriculum is designed to introduce early the key terminology that will be needed for the GCSE English Language exam taken in Y10.
The Year 7 syllabus is made up of both accessible and engaging texts which are linked to the overall theme for each term. Our students are encouraged to appreciate the writer’s craft and become aware of the evolutionary changes of writing through studying contemporary novels and poetry, pre-20th century novels and poetry and Shakespeare. The pupils study two contemporary/20th century novels: ‘Kensuke’s Kingdom’ by Michael Morpurgo and ‘The Boy in Striped Pyjamas’ by John Boyne. They study the pre-20th century novel; ‘A Christmas Carrol’ by Charles Dickens and Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’. They also study a collection of modern and pre-20th century poetry on the theme of ‘Friendship and Family’ and a range of non-fiction and media texts based on the theme ‘Healthy Lifestyle’.
All students have the opportunity to use ICT to carry out independent research on a famous author and present their findings as a piece of information writing. Role play is used to explore characters, setting and plot and to teach Speaking and listening skills.
Year 8 is designed to assist with the transition into the study of GCSE English Language in Year 9, whilst continuing to promote creativity and a love of learning within the lessons. Students will read a selection of pre-20th century texts based on the Gothic theme, such as ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley and ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker; alongside studying Philip Pullman’s adaptation of ‘Frankenstein’. In addition to this, students will continue their study of Shakespeare through the play ‘The Tempest’. They will read the contemporary novel ‘Terror Kid’ by Benjamin Zephaniah which addresses current issues such as terrorism and hacking. The pupils will study war poetry building on the skills and knowledge learnt through the poetry scheme in year 7. They will also develop their skills of reading and writing non-fiction and media texts introduced in Year 7. Year 8 continues to develop speaking and listening skills through role play and preparing and giving spoken presentations on given topics.
Key Stage 4
The English Language GCSE course begins in Year 9; students begin studying a range of pre and post 19th century texts in order to prepare them for the exam that they will sit in the summer term of Year 10. A thematic approach has been adopted to teach GCSE English Language and the same themes run through the whole of the English curriculum. The range of texts are interesting, engaging and relevant to issues seen in today’s society; these texts also pose moral questions, which the students are encouraged to consider and debate. This course is made as engaging as possible for the students, ensuring that the students understand the real life applications of the skills learnt in class. Our students develop their skills of letter, speech and article writing, whilst critiquing how writers use language to present biased viewpoints. Students who find it difficult to access GCSE texts have the opportunity to gain extra qualifications through the Entry Level English Program, which enable them to build skills at a pace suited for them.
Throughout Years 9 and 10, the pupils are given opportunities to research given topics in order to present balanced arguments through spoken presentations. This is so the pupils are prepared fully for their speaking and listening controlled assessment which is filmed in the Spring term of Year 10.
Any student in Key Stage 4 who feels the need will have the opportunity to attend additional English GCSE revision sessions leading up to the exam.
Alongside the English Language texts, the pupils read a full novel each term in line with the GCSE English Literature set texts in order to enrich their experience of books and encourage an enjoyment in reading, including: ‘Anita and Me’ by Meera Syal, ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell and ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ by Robert Louis Stephenson.
Functional Skills English is taught in Year 11 and gives pupils practical skills for the modern world and helps them get the most from life, learning and work. Functional Skills English is taught with the aim of preparing pupils for working life and ensures that they leave with good communication skills in reading, writing and speaking and listening. It assesses whether pupils can use these skills in everyday situations.
Since Covid-19, it has been decided that for English Language there will be no requirement for teachers to submit a sample of audio-visual recordings of Spoken Language assessment for exam board monitoring. This means that more time can be freed up for focusing on parts of the course that were missed due to the lockdown and the sessions that would have been spent recording pupil’s responses to the Spoken Language assessment can be used for revision sessions and plugging the gaps. I intend to begin revision sessions after school for one session a week earlier than normal beginning straight after the October half term. Also, year 10 lessons have a greater emphasis on exam-style questions and how to approach these.
Some pupils may also be given the opportunity to study GCSE English Literature when this is deemed appropriate.
In September 2016, we introduced the ‘Accelerated Reading Programme’ across the whole school. During the daily timetabled reading slots of twenty minutes boys select books from a range of texts within their assessed colour bands and then complete a quiz on the computers which assesses their comprehension of the texts they have read. After completing a quiz, the computerised programme allocates reading points which are then converted into ‘house points’ and ‘currics’ at the end of each term. The programme generates information and data for individual pupils, cohorts and the whole school which is used to monitor achievements, identify intervention needs and track progress for all pupils.
In addition to the curriculum, it is important to foster the love of reading and to engage all pupils in this. The pupils will be given the opportunity to join either the Reading or the Drama club. These clubs aim to promote ‘reading for pleasure’ and to encourage pupils to develop speaking and listening skills through drama that are essential across the curriculum.
Literature related trips
To support the chosen text, we also arrange trips to places where the text is set, or theatrical performances of the text.
Students are entered for externally assessed awards as appropriate at the end of the course, namely OCR English Language, and ELC for those working below GCSE level.
In Key Stage 2 students are assessed against the end of year curriculum expectations of the objectives they have been working on throughout the year. In year 6 boys working at expected level will complete the required SATs examinations.
YEAR 11: Edexcel Functional Skills English and OCR GCSE English Language (resit)
YEAR 10: OCR GCSE English Language and/or OCR Entry Level English
YEAR 9: Begin OCR GCSE English Language and/or OCR Entry Level English