Our aim is for students to:

  • read easily, fluently, with good understanding and comprehension
  • develop the habit of reading a breadth of texts for information and for pleasure
  • approach texts critically: analysing, inferring and evaluating in order to understand writers’ intention
  • acquire a wide vocabulary to facilitate reading, writing, and oracy skills
  • write clearly, accurately, coherently, perceptively and engagingly for a range of purposes and audiences
  • use discussion in order to learn, explaining their own views and listening to those of others both informally and formally
  • use the interpretations of other scholars and critics to inform their own viewpoint and written explorations
  • develop cultural capital by reading, writing and talking about lives beyond their own

Course principles

Examples of how we match and exceed the National Curriculum (NC):

  • read a wide range of fiction and non-fiction, including in particular whole books, short stories, poems and plays with a wide coverage of genres, historical periods, forms and authors → We are studying up to date Young Adult fiction as well
  • The range will include high-quality works from English Literature, both pre-1914 and contemporary, including prose, poetry and drama →  Shakespeare (two plays in Key Stage 3) we read a Shakespeare play each year in Year 7, 8, 10 and 13. We also study a selection of Shakespeare’s sonnets and extracts from other plays
  • understand increasingly challenging texts through: learning new vocabulary, relating it explicitly to known vocabulary and understanding it with the help of context and dictionaries  →  we explicitly teach vocabulary at the beginning of each unit and use research-based methods to aid recall
  • studying setting, plot, and characterisation, and the effects of these  →  we build on this foundation each year in increasing complexity
  • make an informed personal response, recognising that other responses to a text are possible and evaluating these  →  we build an increasing critical voice and build interpretative skill
  • write accurately, fluently, effectively and at length: a range of other narrative and non-narrative text  →  we write for real purposes and audiences and link narrative writing to reading

The Year 7 -13 curriculum follows three threshold complex knowledge webs of: inference, writers’ intention, and reflection in writing. These knowledge areas underpin the choice of topics and are the driving force for the whole curriculum. The topics and texts are sequenced to be increasingly challenging through years 7 to 13, with clear end points based on knowledge. In years 12 and 13, students learn an advanced arsenal of terminology and concepts that can be used for precision in academic writing on literature. The thresholds are returned to in each term with knowledge webs being reminded, honed and developed: in this way it works on a snowballing principle. This also aids long term memory and ensures that all learning is connected to previous units; this facilitates progress and success for all students.

Each term has explicit curriculum goals; schemes of work are clearly phased with components of learning outlined on short term plans with clear goals, end points and progress check points. We ensure that all students, including those with SEND can access and achieve the goals in our curriculum; this is through strategic support and challenge.

Check-ins are formative assessments and take the form of multiple choice/quiz knowledge checks for immediate diagnosis of students’ weaknesses and misconceptions. Summative assessment are the end goals and take the form of written response to reading and writing for audience and purpose. In this way assessment follows a progression model.

Through reading, comprehending, analysing and evaluating a rich and broad breadth of texts (both of the canon and new YA texts), students will be able to use the vocabulary and style that they have been exposed to as a springboard for their own writing. Oracy is of vital importance in this model as students are encouraged to articulate their ideas, and those of others, through planned and spontaneous performance and debate. Vocabulary will also be taught at the beginning of each unit and constantly returned to. All forms of writing poetry/fiction/drama/non-fiction will be covered each term in order to ensure mastery of skills; in this way skills are snowballed. This culminates at Advanced level with the approach as outlined by D. Royce Sadler- that ‘student development is multidimensional rather than sequential, and prerequisite learnings cannot be conceptualised as neatly packaged units of skills or knowledge. Growth takes place on many interrelated fronts at once, and is continuous rather than lockstep.’ In this way, knowledge is built upon; students are supported to meet our curriculum goals whilst others are challenged to move beyond; in addition, students are equipped to study English Literature as undergraduates.

Strategies to support SEND students, to achieve curriculum goals

Routines for learning

  • Seating plans provide a suitable partner to work with, and easy access for teacher or TA
  • Assessments marked with clear formative feedback and encouragement; assessments have clear criteria to assist peer, self and teacher assessment
  • Larger/ coloured printing of resources where applicable; PowerPoints have coloured background, especially green/blue
  • Consistent acronyms used to assist long term memory used explicitly in teaching eg STEAL/DAFOREST/COMPASS/SPACEGP. Memory can be supported with symbols and actions
  • Use of working walls and displays in classrooms when possible.
  • Use of cloze exercises, images, True and False and multiple choice to build confidence and contribute to short term wins
  • Revision: Explain and demonstrate strategies for learning content and vocabulary – association, visuals, creating cards; activities used to promote long term memory recall such as retrieval tasks in starters, use of homework with challenge

Strategies for reading

  • Teachers lead the reading to enable all students to build confidence
  • Support with use of reading pens
  • Silver Step used to ensure success
  • Understanding is frequently checked through achievable quizzes and questions
  • Reading strategies used eg 3,2,1, rule and symbols to encourage close reading and comprehension as well as activation of prior knowledge and teaching vocabulary explicitly
  • Bookmark with vocabulary used to encourage recall and follow reading
  • Where possible reading texts will be clearly laid out with numbered lines
  • Thorough diagnosis of reading (decoding, comprehension, fluency, phonics) on entry
  • Introduction to ‘cheat’ reading ie reading just first lines of paragraphs and reading down the middle, folding paper so students only see part of the extract at a time

Strategies for writing

  • Silver Step used to ensure success
  • Larger exercise books for writing to assist with editing, length and detail.
  • Use clear strategies for writing eg 5-step plan for creative writing with focus on structure; 7-step plan for promoting a point of view; scaffolding using sentence starters; vocabulary; slow writing and sentence upgrades
  • Modelling of writing tasks prior to writing; use of me, we, you; use of walking talking mock

Strategies for oracy

  • Silver Step used to ensure success
  • Clear instructions both verbally and on written resources eg power point.
  • Careful questioning and use of thinking time
  • Focus on performance and variation when reading texts
  • Talk through homework and check understanding and offer extra support as appropriate

Strategies to support disadvantaged students, to achieve curriculum goals

The routines for learning, along with the reading, writing, oracy strategies, outlined above, support our disadvantaged students. We ensure students have priority for theatre bookings and trips; we also buy personal copies of reading books at KS4, to encourage annotation and re-reading. We prioritise disadvantaged students for intervention tutoring at key points.

Strategies to challenge students, to achieve curriculum goals

Our curriculum is inherently challenging, building upon foundations that create astute readers and articulate writers. We have not shied away from studying critically demanding texts with challenging concepts. In addition, we encourage wide reading with extended reading lists linked to each module and offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities.

Why does the curriculum look like this?

Key Stage 3 National Curriculum Audit for English