What is the importance of the subject? Why should students be studying it? Why should they care about it?

In English, our curriculum aims to build a love of our literary heritage, while equipping pupils with the fundamental building blocks of life. We aspire to produce learners who are not just literate but are also confident, resilient and able to succeed irrespective of gender, cultural or ethnic background. We have a diverse curriculum, which allows pupils to experience the world through the eyes of others, and the English department strives to ensure that pupils read for enjoyment in order to develop themselves in both an emotional and literate sense. English provides opportunities for the exploration of pupils’ cultural heritage and the appreciation of literary works from other cultures. We are firm believers that those who read, achieve. Our sole desire is to ensure that all of our pupils leave school as rounded, self-motivated individuals with a passion to succeed.

How our English Curriculum builds over time.

By the end of year 7, we expect pupils to have built on pre-existing knowledge of the way texts are constructed, taking into account the typical features of each genre and showing an appreciation of writers’ craftsmanship. They will develop the ability to identify literary techniques used for effect across a range of texts and will begin to apply these devices more effectively in their own writing.
They will be introduced to the concept of critical writing and how to apply their knowledge in an analytical essay. They will delve into the literary heritage of a range of cultures and time periods, using these texts as a basis to generate ideas and formulate their own consciously crafted pieces of fiction and non-fiction. By the end of the year, they will have continued to develop their oracy skills, building on their knowledge of different ways to communicate, while being given opportunities to become competent public speakers.
By the end of year 8, it is expected that pupils will refine the skills taught in year 7, developing a more critical style of writing when responding to a range of texts. They will begin to adapt their level of formality, using academic language to move away from simply identifying writers’ methods and, instead, analysing the effect of these choices.
They should become familiar with strategies to use when exploring a text and will show competence in their analytical skills. They will be able to annotate texts more independently and will feel more confident, with support, when writing full essays.
Their knowledge of how to build and structure a range array of text types should develop throughout this year, with paragraphing and discourse markers used to support overall textual cohesion. Pupils will be more focused on being selective when crafting their writing, attempting -with support – to use punctuation, vocabulary, sentence structure and paragraphing for effect.

By the end of year 9, pupils will be prepared for the transition to the GCSE curriculum. They will have been exposed both implicitly and explicitly to the assessment criteria used at GCSE level. They will have gained a wide knowledge of writer’s craftsmanship with a detailed understanding of the way texts are constructed –at word, sentence and whole text level. They will also begin to move from critical analysis of the methods employed by writers to making more evaluative comments on the overall effectiveness of texts. They should be confident in generating ideas and using planning much more effectively. A range of literary devices should be routinely employed with confidence, while the language and structural choices are used with intentional effect. We hope this will provide them with a firm foundation on which they can embrace the new challenges ahead.

Beyond G.C.S.E

The A Level course aims to encourage students to develop ways of reading literary texts that explore the connections which exist between texts. This involves studying literature through ‘lenses’. For the examined units, these ‘lenses’ are comedy, and political and social protest writing. Within these units, texts include novels, poetry and drama from across time and countries: from Shakespeare’s comedy, ‘Twelfth Night’ to Khaled Hosseini’s political and social protest novel ‘The Kite Runner’, which is set in America, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Among other texts, we also study Henrik Ibsen’s proto-feminist play ‘A Doll’s House’, set in nineteenth century Norway, and Tony Harrison’s protest poetry, which centres on the closing of the mines during the Thatcher era.

Examinations include extract questions and essays that focus on exploring debates around comedy, and political and social protest writing. The non-examined unit is a coursework unit, which gives students some independence as they can choose their own novel and poems to study through two critical perspectives. These include feminism, Marxism, ecocriticism and postcolonialism. Thus, the course exposes students to a breadth of literary texts through which they can develop critical thinking skills, enhanced analytical skills and the ability to shape effective arguments.