English Curriculum Area
|Mrs C Lane
|Second in the Curriculum Area:
|Mrs S Regan
|Mrs L Anglim - Head of Year 9
|Mrs L Dawson - Literacy Co-Ordinator
|Mrs C Littlewood
|Dr R Saunders - SENCo
|Mrs N Smith-Hughes - Head of Drama
Mrs A Townley
|Mrs S Walton
|Mrs H Winter - Assistant Headteacher
|Miss L Beaumont
Vision: To encourage all students to be passionate and proactive in their learning and to support them in becoming responsible, confident and successful citizens of the future.
The English department at Bishop Rawstorne is extremely successful, with GCSE results consistently much higher than national averages. With a dedicated and enthusiastic team of subject specialists, students are supported and encouraged to achieve their potential through an innovative, well sequenced creative curriculum and consistently high standards of teaching.
In English, all students study both English language and literature from Year 7 through to Year 11. This is in order that they can develop high standards of language and literacy, with a strong command of the spoken and written word as well as grow a love and enjoyment of literature that promotes wider reading for enjoyment.
Through a strong understanding of the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum, the assessment of writing at Key Stage 2, as well as results and feedback from Year 6, we ensure that our curriculum builds on prior learning. Reading, writing and spelling is assessed and students join various intervention pathways where gaps in knowledge are identified. Those students identified as having specific additional needs are identified during transition and a number of strategies are put in place to close any gaps.
We commence with a transition programme that incorporates a growth mindset approach to instil confidence and resilience in students as they start their secondary journey. Then, throughout Key Stage 3, students learn key reading, writing and spoken language skills exposure to a wide literary cannon and a range of non-fiction texts. Year 7s are introduced to Shakespeare and the wonderful world of Elizabethan theatre. Powerful plays such as The Tempest and Julius Caesar are taught in KS3 and pave the way to the later study of GCSE texts, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet. We appreciate that there is a much wider world outside our small rural community and whilst schemes such as ‘My Village’ allow students to consider their local context, other schemes such as ‘Outsiders’, ‘People and Place’ and ‘Diversity and Cultural Community’ not only expose students to different text types but introduce them to contemporary writers, such as Marcus Rashford and Malala Yousafzia. Such influential voices represent the rich diversity of society, break down stereotypes and prejudice, and encourage our children to broaden their horizons and develop the way they think and feel about society and global issues.
Students study the GCSE English literature course in Years 9 and 10, when they learn how to read, analyse, debate and critically respond to a range of texts, spanning over 400 years. They cover a wide range of themes and cultures, allowing them to enhance their understanding of differences and perspectives over time and form independent opinions on a variety of themes, such as equality, social class, gender roles and relationships. The poetry anthology, for example, includes writers such as Philip Larkin; his poem ‘Afternoons’ allows students to reflect on gender stereotypes and class divisions within society. Moreover, inequality and strength of human spirit in Imtiaz Dharker’s contemporary ‘Living Space’ is compared to the plight of the working class in William Blake’s 19th Century ‘London’ so that students can appreciate that issues that continue to plague society are ever present.
At the end of Year 10, we deliver a ‘Careers and Aspirations’ unit for all students. By the end of the scheme, students have created a CV and personal statement, in addition to covering topics such as job applications, preparing for interviews and how to plan and deliver an effective presentation. Students are able to research the qualifications required for chosen career pathways and are thoroughly prepared for the mock interviews they receive from local colleges at the beginning of Year 11.
In Year 11 students develop their reading, writing and spoken language skills through exposure to a diverse range of high-quality non-fiction extracts and texts. Authors such as Margaret Attwood, Charles Dickens, Aravind Adiga, Max Hastings and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are just some of the writers we use to teach students how to identify and use language for effect, write in a style for audience and purpose and adapt tone and register appropriately. We also introduce them to authors and genres they may also be presented with at A-level and a continued focus on literature is integral to the course.
Oracy is a major focus across the whole curriculum. Our school takes part in public speaking events, both on a regional and national level and we work closely with other departments to ensure all teachers are passionate in promoting a strong culture of language use in their classrooms. Specifically, this involves an appropriate selection of strategies such as ‘no hands up’, ‘stand and speak’ and ‘read aloud’ to encourage all students to develop confidence and fluency in articulating their ideas. This is in addition to the development of the appropriate use of subject specific vocabulary. Alongside literacy interventions such as Bedrock, Lexia, Rainbow Reading and Word of the Week, structured talk activities equip students with the vocabulary to express how they feel and explain what they think and believe.
All Key Stage 3 students keep an independent reading record which is monitored by parents. This strengthens the home/school relationship and provides a stimulus for discussions where reading becomes talked about and ‘trendy’. Students identified as needing additional intervention are selected to read weekly with an adult; they monitor their reading progress and liaise with home in terms of parental support. Our history department read ‘War Horse’ as part of their preparation for studying World War One and annual events such as Drop Everything and Read ensure a love of reading is not confined to the realms of the English department. Through a constant message that being a confident reader is the path to a healthy mind and body, we aim to develop readers who have stamina, imagination and an appreciation of the world beyond the familiar. Displays, book stations, monthly competitions and regular use of the well-stocked library promote the message that reading is all around us. Visiting authors such as Tom Palmer and Alan Gibbons bring their books to life and competitions such as Children’s Book of the Year and ‘Blind Date with A Book’ encourage students of all ages to get ‘lost in a book’.
We teach our students the power of being able to accurately and effectively express their ideas in writing. By exploring the craft of the writer and the mechanics behind this (for example, spelling, punctuation, grammar, paragraphing), we equip our students with the skills to write confidently across a range of genres for a range of audiences and purposes. Strategies such as ‘slow writing’, ‘quick draw’ and frameworks such as PEAZE and TPMLSE are used selectively by all teachers to teach students how to structure their written work. Such approaches create confident writers who can develop the detail and depth of their responses.
Students are part of the assessment process and we use ‘flashmarking’ in both key stages to enable students to assess their own work and set their own targets for development. The emphasis is heavily on formative feedback, enabling students to develop their metacognitive skills, by taking a proactive role in their learning. Live marking is an intrinsic element of our formative assessment process and allows students to respond immediately with a ‘green pen’ to show progress. The feedback is instant and can be monitored for impact. Grades are introduced from Year 9 but, only in specific summative assessments which outline gaps in knowledge and inform intervention approaches.
Our student population is skewed to higher prior attainment with a higher-than-average reading fluency on entry. To build on this foundation, we place all students in mixed ability classes which provides a positive, high achieving environment for every student and fosters an exceptionally high level of self-belief. Those with SEND and / or gaps in their learning are supported through scaffolding and support to access the same curriculum as their peers; the fact that our school SENDCo is a member of the English teaching team means that collaboration is very strong. We have the support of governors, teaching assistants and a librarian; all provide intervention across all year groups but specifically focus on the delivery of literacy programmes such as phonics, Rainbow Reading and one to one or small group tuition. Whilst it is the responsibility of teachers to meet the individual needs of each student within their class, revision classes, support sessions, online tuition and one to one tutoring are intervention strategies we use to close the gap; where appropriate they are always used to provide additional support for those students considered as disadvantaged.
Our department highly values continual professional development and as a School Direct lead, we welcome the opportunity to train future teachers but also hone our own practice with the new ideas and approaches they bring. We have always worked collaboratively as a department, through the sharing of resources on Teams and within our own curriculum meeting time. Action research is an integral part of CPD and we regularly discuss, trial and evaluate different pedagogical approaches in order to continually share best practice and develop the way we do things effectively. A major focus this year is the quality of homework with an emphasis on revision. In an aim to be more consistent and clearer in how students organise their learning, we are producing a personalised revision programme for Year 11 and working with other subject areas to develop a common approach to how all subjects set revision and provide resources.
Our curriculum mapping is strengthened by offering a range of enrichment opportunities, particularly for those we feel may be at a disadvantage when it comes to enjoying a wide range of cultural experiences. All students are involved in experiencing theatrical performances, regular competitions, visiting authors and poets, and participation in our annual ‘Cultural Day’.
As core subjects, GCSEs in English language and English literature are studied by all students and are, of course, highly regarded by further education institutions, apprenticeship providers and universities. The reading, writing and spoken language skills developed in English are transferable to all other subjects and offer a sound basis for future study and life in the workplace. The future career choices for students of English are many and varied, including sectors such as media and marketing, performing arts, law, journalism and teaching. However, it would be a disservice to this subject to limit it to just these sectors as the ability to communicate is the foundation for any profession.