Curriculum Leader: Mrs R Baroni/Mrs K Brzozowska
The English Department is an ambitious, high achieving and creative department that has been judged by Ofsted to be “outstanding”. As recognised by the inspection, it is our aim to promote learning in a lively and engaging way that combines fun with academic rigor – our English lessons place students at the centre of learning thus fostering independence, curiosity and the development of skills in preparation for their adult life.
The department is staffed by fourteen experienced teachers and a higher level teaching assistant. We are well resourced, with eleven classrooms and two drama studios, each equipped with a smart board and with access to other media equipment. As well as promoting media, we strive to maintain a focus on reading and to that end we have a broad range of up-to-date texts that we use in delivering the curriculum. We also work closely with the well-stocked Resource Centre.
The delivery of the curriculum is closely linked with drama and, throughout their time at the school, students will have the opportunity to develop their performance skills. To further develop students’ passion for English, the department offers a range of extra-curricular activities and . students are encouraged to take part in competitions, both local and national. Some of the competitions have included a Spelling Bee for Year 7, a Persuasive Writing competition for Year 9 and Young Writers Competition for Year 10 students. We also work closely with the Universities of York and York St John and other external agencies, such as BBFC and Love Film.
At Key Stage 3, students are taught English in seven one-hour lessons a fortnight in Year 7, and five one-hour lessons a fortnight in Year 8 and 9. The Key Stage 3 English curriculum is designed to enable students to see their learning as a journey in the mastery of key reading and writing skills, culminating in the end of key stage assessment in Year 9.
In studying English at Key Stage 3, students develop skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing; all of which they will need to communicate with others in school and in the wider world. We, as a department, believe that the curriculum we have designed enables all students to apply their knowledge, skills and understanding to relevant real-world situations. As such, we have crafted schemes of work in consultation with students that allow pupils to learn to express themselves creatively and imaginatively, with confidence and effectiveness.
Each scheme of work includes a range of different and challenging literature texts in each year of study in order to encourage students to become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama as well as non-fiction and media texts. Through this exciting breadth of texts, students gain access to the world of knowledge that reading offers, consequently becoming informed critical and sensitive thinkers. We are always interested in what students think and regularly ask them to evaluate the schemes as well as the studied texts.
In addition to our specially designed curriculum at Key Stage 3, we also offer a range of extra-curricular activities to further students’ experiences of English. Some of the activities we offer include: a film club, theatre visits, visits from guest speakers and the chance to enter both local and national writing competitions.
In Year 7, pupils build on the skills learned at Key Stage 2 via the study of a range of texts. This includes an exciting range of diaries, novels, plays, brochures, leaflets, newspapers and other multimedia texts such as; film and television clips and internet blogs. Some of the texts enjoyed by our current Year 7 include texts such as Roald Dahl’s ‘Boy’, ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’, Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’, Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, Boyne’s ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ and Sachar’s ‘Holes’. In Year 7 we also run a variety of theatre trips and other events to complement our curriculum, such as entering The Times ‘Spelling Bee’ and holding a sponsored Readathon.
Year 7 schemes include:
- Me, Myself and Others
- Canterbury Tales
- Powerful Poetry
- Protest and Persuasion
In Year 8, pupils build upon the skills they have learned in Year 7 and are asked to respond in a more advanced way to a range of different texts, each of which acts as a stimulus for a range of activities that assess pupils’ speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. Some of the texts used in our schemes of work include Conan Doyle’s ‘The Sign of the Four’, Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’, Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’, a range of poetry from the literary canon and various examples of travel writing.
Year 8 schemes of work include:
- Shakespeare and Stagecraft
- Travel Writing
- Poetry Over Time
In Year 9, the skills pupils have learned throughout the previous two years are mastered in preparation for the English GCSEs that begin in Year 10. However, that is not to say that English in this year is not fun! Our schemes of work in Year 9 require students to analyze a range of both fiction and non-fiction texts, therefore providing a sound basis for GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature. Pupils enjoy analyzing a range of more challenging literature that includes Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ and Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’, Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ as well as a range of non-fiction texts. Pupils also develop their writing skills and have many opportunities to write for different purpose including writing to persuade or describe. To enrich their learning, students also take part in a trip to Yorkshire Sculpture Park which acts as a stimulus for their creative writing as well as having the opportunity to have a Theatre company visit our school to give a performance of a Shakespeare play.
Year 9 schemes of work include:
- Approaches to non-fiction
- Approaches to writing: social and political writing
- Approaches to Spoken Language
- Approaches to fiction: the modern novel
- Shakespearean comedy
- Preparation for GCSE: creative writing
At Key Stage 4, students are grouped according to ability and are entered for both the English and Literature GCSE (AQA Specification). Over the course of the two years, students will be assessed regularly and their progress tracked. Formal practice examinations take place at the end of Year 10 and in the autumn term of Year 11. In the spring term of Year 11, students are provided with an extensive revision programme in preparation for their final exams, which take place at the end of Year 11.
As part of the current GCSE programme, students complete Controlled Assessments on a variety of texts, including modern novels and plays such as ‘An Inspector Calls’ and pre-1914 prose. Students will also have the opportunity to study Shakespeare and a number of poems as part of the AQA GCSE Anthology. Students are also expected to take part in various speaking and listening activities throughout the two years and this will include discussion, individual presentation and drama.
Due to changes to the GCSE qualification, new English Language and Literature GCSE specifications apply to Year 10 students. Final assessment of these GCSEs will take place at the end of Year 11, in the form of four separate examinations. In preparation for these examinations, students study a range of texts, including modern novels and plays such as ‘An Inspector Calls’ and ‘Sign of the Four’, Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and a range of poetry from the AQA Anthology. Students are also expected to develop their speaking and listening abilities, including a formal assessment of their presentation skills
The English Department offers a full and varied range of AS and A Levels, allowing students to continue their English studies to the highest level. The popularity of the Department can be seen with large numbers of sixth form students opting to study English Literature, English Language, or Film Studies. Through a variety of teaching methods, within a supportive academic environment, students are encouraged to become independent, evaluative learners, who are well prepared for the future.
Academic study is complemented by a number of extra-curricular enrichment opportunities, which aim to broaden and develop students’ knowledge and understanding of the subject in different contexts. Recent opportunities have included London theatre visits and Shakespeare workshops; an AS English Language workshop that prepares students for their coursework assignment as well as visits to York University Library. In addition, we also welcome visiting speakers to provide enrichment for our students.
The following AS/A Levels are offered:
- English Literature (AQA Specification B)
- English Language (AQA Specification B)
- Film Studies (WJEC)