“A drop of ink may make a million think.”
George Gordon Byron
The overarching aim for English is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of spoken and written language, and to develop their love of English through widespread reading for enjoyment and pleasure. Our aim is also to develop soft skills such as empathy, tolerance, collaboration and reflectiveness. These equip them with skills for life.
- The development of critical understanding to enable students to make critical responses to both fiction and non-fiction texts and knowledge.
- To develop understanding of different perspectives and explore what influences a text.
- This empowers students’ written communication of creative fiction and the written communication of their point of view using technical accuracy and verbal communication to ensure clarity.
- Identify and interpret explicit and implicit information and ideas
- Select and synthesise evidence from different texts
- Use textual references, including quotations, to support and illustrate interpretations
- Explain, comment on and analyse how writers use language and structure to achieve effects and influence readers, using relevant subject terminology to support their views
- Compare writers’ ideas and perspectives, as well as how these are conveyed, across two or more texts
- Evaluate texts critically and support this with appropriate textual references
- Show understanding of the relationship between texts and the contexts in which they were written
- Maintain a critical style and develop an informed personal response
- Communicate clearly, effectively and imaginatively, selecting and adapting tone, style and register for different forms, purposes and audiences
- Organise information and ideas, using structural and grammatical features to support coherence and cohesion of texts
- Use a range of vocabulary and sentence structures for clarity, purpose and effect, with accurate spelling and punctuation
Speaking and Listening
- Demonstrate presentation skills in a formal setting
- Use spoken Standard English effectively in speeches and presentations
- Listen and respond appropriately in different contexts
Let’s Think in English
This programme is for Years 7 & 8. These lessons are timetabled for 2 lessons per fortnight. Texts explored include a broad range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
The lessons stimulate the deeper reasoning patterns which underpin better understanding of English – understanding the writer’s intention relating to technique, narrative structure, figurative language, symbolism, genre, for example. The lessons are largely oral, based on reading, open-ended questioning and structured group discussion. They systematically develop students’ skills of inference, deduction and analysis, increasing their confidence, understanding and ability to express their ideas.
Let’s Think in English, designed by King’s College London, draws on research by Piaget and Vygotsky that young people learn best when exploring ideas together. The lessons are based on structured challenge and include the development of understanding through discussion (social construction), problem-solving (cognitive challenge) and structured reflection (metacognition) which makes students more aware of their thinking processes and how they think most effectively.
What is taught?
Years 7 and 8
The overarching aim for English in Years 7 and 8 is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of spoken and written language, and to develop their love of English through widespread reading for enjoyment and pleasure.
The range of forms studied in the Lower School, will prepare students for the study of English Language and Literature at GCSE and will include novels, short stories, poems and plays covering a wide range of genres and historical periods. We will provide opportunities to study authors and poets in-depth. Students will experience and develop an appreciation and love of reading, and will read increasingly challenging texts.
Students will be taught to write clearly, accurately and coherently for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. They will acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions from their reading and will use these consciously and creatively to achieve particular effects in their written or spoken language work. They will be given many opportunities to become competent speakers and listeners, making formal presentations and using discussion to learn by elaborating and explaining clearly their understanding and ideas.
Years 9 – 11
“People who love literature have at least part of their minds immune from indoctrination. If you read, you can learn to think for yourself.”
Students will complete a three-year integrated course leading to two GCSEs: English Language and English Literature (Edexcel). Continuing the work from the lower school, pupils will develop their skills in the three key assessment areas: speaking and listening, reading and writing through the study of a broad range of literature and non-fiction texts.
In Year 9, students will develop their skills in writing imaginative, analytical and discursive essays, demonstrating their ability to plan, research and present new ideas. The importance of technical accuracy will be stressed. Students will study a selection of poetry and Shakespeare as well as non-fiction and media texts and we will develop their analytical, comparative and evaluative language skills.
In the final terms, students will study an anthology of unseen literary texts in preparation for the GCSEs. Speaking and listening skills will continue to be developed through a wide range of oral work, including individual talks, debates, group and class discussion
In Years 10 and 11, we will focus on our set texts for English Literature, which in this case are Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”, ‘’A Christmas Carol’’ by Charles Dickens or George Eliot’s “Silas Marner”, William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” or “Romeo and Juliet”, William Golding’s “The Lord of the Flies” or J.B. Priestley’s “An Inspector Calls”. Our students will also study a range of poetry from the Edexcel Anthology. These will also form part of the Literature examination. The anthology is comprised of both classic and modern poetry, with the intention of introducing a varied canon of poetry that interests and inspires. We have chosen texts that are, in our opinion, both challenging and engaging.
Our preparation for the English Language examination is integrated within the two years and for this will we study a broad range of both fiction and non-fiction. We aim to help students read critically and use knowledge gained from wide reading to inform and improve their own writing. We will continue to develop their analytical, comparative and evaluative language skills. We aim to help them acquire and apply a wide vocabulary alongside knowledge and understanding of grammatical terminology, and linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language.
The English Department is passionate in our aim to help our students to grow in confidence and maturity in all areas of communication. We encourage individuality and discussion. At the end of Year 10, students will be expected to deliver an individual talk on a topic of their choice. The grade (pass/merit/distinction) will be reported separately to the English Language qualification.
Students can choose from a range of subjects in the English Faculty: English Literature, English Language and Literature, Theatre Studies and Media Studies.
English Language and Literature (Edexcel)
Assessment is by external examination (80%) and coursework (20%).
Students will engage creatively and critically with a wide range of texts (both spoken and written) and learn to use linguistic and literary approaches in their reading and interpretation of texts, showing how the two disciplines can relate to each other. They will develop and apply their knowledge of literary analysis and evaluation. They will have the opportunity in the coursework unit to develop their skills as a creative writer, creating both literary and non-fiction texts and learn to analyse their style and influences.
Texts studied: a wide range of examples of non-literary and digital texts from the 20th and 21st century; Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons”; Angela Carter’s “The Bloody Chamber”; Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights”; Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner”; a range of non-fiction genres from the 19th, 20th and 21st century.
English Literature (Edexcel)
Assessment is by external examination (80%) and coursework (20%).
Students will study a wide range of poetry, prose and drama from 1300 to the present day. They will be encouraged to make connections and comparisons between texts and to investigate the contexts in which the texts were written and received. This allows students to consider contemporary critical writing and to develop independence.
Students will study poetic form, content and meaning in preparation for responding to an unseen poem and extend their understanding of the concerns and choices of modern-day poets. They will also study aspects of drama via one play, exploring the use of literary and dramatic devices and how playwrights shape meaning.
Students will study aspects of prose via two thematically linked texts. They will explore links and connections between them and the contexts in which they were written and received.
Examples of texts studied: a range of poetry, from the established literary canon through to the present day; Tennessee Williams’ “Streetcar Named Desire”; Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest”; Shakespeare’s “Othello” or “Measure for Measure”; Khaled Hosseini’s “A Thousand Splendid Suns”; Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the d’Urbervilles”; Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”; Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go”; Romantic Poets – selection of poetry.
Academic Literacy in English
- Engagement and participation in lessons by all
- Reading of a range of texts (both in terms of form and genre and in the perspectives and voices they convey)
- Linking of current learning to previous and future learning
- Opportunities for students to articulate their ideas verbally and improve their oracy
- Use of differentiation to support and challenge all students
- Adaptable teaching that responds to the needs of students
- Assessment for Learning
- Variety of whole class/individual/pair/group work
- Clear learning questions, planning for progress and reflection on the students’ success of meeting these at the end of the lesson
- Strong, purposeful, probing questioning from staff to further student progress but also from students towards their peers and of the texts and materials they study
- Critical thinking and discussion
- Routines, expectations, praise and sanctions where necessary for classroom management
Students are encouraged to extend their interest in English by…
Reading widely: we have recommended reading for all years and a ‘16 by 16 challenge’.
Students have access to a new library in the new Wills Building from Sept 2022 and a digital library too.
We subscribe to the MASSOLIT online site for students to extend their understanding and appreciation of literature. MASSOLIT works with university academics to produce short video lectures in the literature, history and the social sciences for schoolteachers and students.
We recommend particular videos on YouTube, podcasts and keeping up with daily news/opinion sites such as The Guardian.
We subscribe to First News and all students in the lower years have an access login.
Our curriculum is designed to instil high aspirations and to encourage our students to become resilient, life-long learners who embrace challenges and continue to grow and develop their cultural capital. Building resilience is an integral part of supporting them in realising anything is possible. Our students will be inspired to follow whichever path they choose whilst being well-rounded, empathetic and tolerant.
- Through the curriculum, we do not just strive to prepare students for the demands of GCSEs. We also want them to develop key skills for the world of work. This is achieved through developing students’ core literacy, reading and writing skills from Year 7 to Year 13.
- Through English, students develop an appreciation and a love of reading. They do this by being given regular opportunities to analyse a range of texts, including non-fiction, poetry, Shakespeare and whole novels.
- Teachers regularly expose students to a range of non-fiction texts, including articles and opinion pieces on topical issues, in order prompt thought and discussion of wider issues in a changing world, e.g. First News, Guardian opinion columns and extracts from memoirs.
- We also ensure that students have many opportunities to write for different audiences and purposes, ensuring that they recognise the importance of using punctuation and grammar accurately and by engaging the reader well, through effective and challenging vocabulary.
- Through the English curriculum, students also develop their speaking and listening skills in a range of contexts and for different purposes. This is vital cultural capital, which our students need to become effective speakers and confident communicators, to allow them to compete with their peers in a range of real-world contexts including job interviews and presentations.
- To that end, our students can use Standard English appropriately. This is supported by ensuring that they read a wide range of classic literature fluently and with good understanding. This enables our students to make connections across their reading and to read in depth, critically and evaluatively, so that they can discuss and explain their ideas and understanding in detail and with confidence and flair.
- We promote understanding of cultural diversity through units such as ‘Diverse Literary Shorts’ and ‘Poetry from Different Cultures’ and though non-fiction texts we explore current social, moral or political issues. Our literature texts also give us the opportunity to discuss a range of cultural influences, such as sociological ideas and historical events that have shaped our society: this in turn allows us to discuss moral and ethical issues too.
- From 2022, students have the opportunity to take part in the ‘16 by 16 Challenge’. The collection of 16 texts includes fiction and non-fiction that span different time periods and genres by writers of different ethnicities, nationalities and genders. The collection has been designed to extend students’ experiences of different voices, beyond the curriculum.
- From March 2023 we have introduced a 13 by 13 challenge and the 6th form 18 by 18 is launching in September of 2023. The collections of texts include fiction and non-fiction that span different time periods and genres by writers of different ethnicities, nationalities and genders. The collection has been designed to extend students’ experiences of different voices, beyond the curriculum.
- We are constantly expecting our students to use their imaginations when reading and recreating fiction texts, which also requires them to be creative.
- The English department runs trips where possible so that we are giving our students the opportunity to participate in cultural events. We have seen a range of Shakespeare’s plays and have invited theatre companies and writers in.
- Writing Competitions, including National Poetry Day
- Carnegie Shadowing
- World Book Day
- Visiting authors/workshops
- Book club
- 16 by 16 challenge
- 6th form ambassadors to work with younger students
- 6th form ambassadors to work with local primary schools