The intent of the English Department is to offer a knowledge-rich curriculum, exposing students to a broad range of texts. We aim to challenge their ideas and perspectives on a wide range of social, cultural and political concepts.
To do so, we develop their knowledge and understanding of the theme of power through the depiction of the powerful and powerless in literature across a range of forms, genres and periods.
Our curriculum develops depth and mastery by allowing students to delve into the history of English Literature as well as foster an appreciation for contemporary texts. Students develop their analytical, evaluative and interpretative skills, enabling them to communicate effectively.
Underpinning all English study is the understanding and exploration of ideas, methods and context, from Year 7 to Year 11. The texts studied are springboards to key concepts, encouraging students to develop critical thinking skills whilst addressing gaps in cultural capital. We are keen to ensure that the curriculum aids progression, with students both gaining new knowledge and honing new skills each year. Assessment objectives are mapped across the year to implant, embed and consolidate knowledge and abilities.
Key Stage 3
At Key Stage 3, students study rich and diverse texts to develop their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills across all units. Texts include Literary Heritage authors, such as Dickens and Shakespeare, as well as critically acclaimed contemporary writers. We explore prose, poetry, fiction and non-fiction, ensuring students have a breadth of study.
Challenging texts are chosen to promote enquiry and build students’ independence. For example, through the study of The Tempest in Year 8, students also discuss colonialism and its wider impact on the world. Reading and writing skills are taught distinctly with time each week devoted to reading lessons, in the classroom or in the library.
Students develop their writing skills through weekly extended writing opportunities and we further develop their literacy skills by explicitly devoting time to spelling, punctuation and grammar within each unit.
We encourage independent reading through initiatives such as Accelerated Reader where we ensure students are independently, and regularly, reading appropriately challenging texts through close monitoring. We view Year 9 as a transition year, using GCSE-standard texts but with content taught and assessed at an age-appropriate level to develop their critical thinking. By the end of Year 11, we aim to have fostered in students the ability to independently demonstrate their understanding of ideas, methods and context across a range of texts, skills that they will then take with them beyond the classroom.
We aim to enrich students’ experiences outside of the classroom through a range of extra-curricular activities, which include the Peckham Poets, creative writing competitions and Spelling Club, and trips to conferences, galleries and the theatre.
At Key Stage 3, there is no separation between Literature and Language in the curriculum, as we strongly believe that reading and writing should be taught alongside each other at this stage, albeit assessed separately. Assessment tasks are directly linked to the curriculum intent, creating a clear and cohesive provision that is easy for the department to follow.
There is one guiding focus for each term, which is divided into different texts and schemes to study. For example, in the autumn term we teach yYear 7 the novel The Breadwinner before half term and then linked poetry after half term in order to achieve a thorough exploration of prose and poetry over the 14-15 weeks.
We view our texts as springboards, encouraging a range of exploration beyond just the text itself to discuss wider topics and develop our students’ cultural capital. This encompasses related non-fiction reading, writing and speaking and listening tasks.
Gaps in teacher knowledge are addressed through co-planning, formative learning walks, mentoring, coaching, moderation and standardisation activities. We receive regular and effective support from the Federation consultants and the SEND team.
We make use of retrieval practice exercises in our Do Now activities at the beginning of lessons to make links between prior and new knowledge as well as to develop our students’ long-term memory.
Whole school teaching and learning consistencies are embedded through our curriculum to promote quality first teaching and learning. Extended writing is built into double lessons. We make active use of models in lessons and they are broken down into clear, concise and numbered success criteria. We use deliberate practice (I do, we do, you do) to support our students becoming independent learners.
We make regular use of assessment, providing students with verbal and written feedback to assess how well our students understand key concepts. Coded marking is used within all lessons to ensure that targets are SMART.
Each student within English receives written feedback from their classroom teacher at least once every two weeks to assess their progress and how SOL can be adapted to ensure both quality teaching and learning and excellent progress.
Students are formally assessed twice a year to inform teaching and learning. This data is then analysed by middle leaders to assess the effectiveness of the SOL in terms of the successes and the areas for development.
The Year 7/8 reading assessments are a bridge between SATs style questions students will be familiar with from Key Stage 2 and the longer, essay style questions students will encounter at GCSE. Students will answer inference, retrieval, comprehension and evaluation questions based on an unseen extract using a rubric created for Key Stage 3 that tests students’ understanding of ideas and methods.
The Year 7/8 writing assessment is not in timed conditions to allow students to craft their responses and cultivate their communication skills. This is a result of the students performing better in English Literature at the end of year 11 and, therefore, in Key Stage 3, a greater focus is needed on a variety of skills that are necessary for them to be effective communicators beyond the classroom.
Year 9 assessments consolidate the knowledge and skills gained over the Key Stage 3 and we use a Key Stage 3 rubric to assess them rather than the GCSE mark schemes. They develop their skills by carefully planning and exploring topics and questions before their assessments.
Year 9 sit autumn and spring assessments that focus purely on writing as a response to this being the area where least progress was made at both GCSE and in our standardised key stage 3 assessments.
Speaking and listening is interwoven throughout both key stages to develop students’ oracy skills. We use the Federation rubric to assess at Key Stage 3 and have a variety of individual, paired and group tasks, linked to springboard texts and key concepts studied throughout the year.
We analyse our data by comparing attainment to student targets. We foster a culture of aspiration, encouraging our students to exceed their targets and, therefore, devise intervention, based on our data, to achieve this.