‘Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body’ – Joseph Addison

‘Fit for Life’ through English

Our Mission:  We want students to become proficient readers, skilled writers and effective communicators.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus Finch explains this life lesson to his daughter in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and the study of English allows us precisely that – the opportunity to explore the world through written and spoken communication. Through studying literature, our eyes are opened to human experience and psyche; we explore meaning and learn to appreciate the aesthetic of the spoken and written word.  As well as the wonderful creative element and igniting a passion for communication long after school ends, English facilitates success in every other subject and therefore prepares us for life.

English, as the term for language and literature combined, exposes and explores the beauty of our rich and developed language, culture and heritage from across time and place. To study English is to study people and contexts, both real and imagined, so that we are able to develop a sense of who we are, where we are and how we got here. By reading and writing about challenging issues and literary genres, and how they have impacted the world we live in, we create and define a sense of self and purpose. Through literature, we explore diverse characters and themes that enable us to imagine life from differing perspectives.  We are no longer bound by our own realms of reality but can experience infinite possibilities through the power of our imaginations and the written word. English allows us to think deeply, form intelligent opinions and ask important questions whilst igniting a passion for learning that goes beyond the classroom.

Skills and Knowledge

Over the course of Key Stage 3, we read a range of texts from different contexts and genres. This gives students both an opportunity to foster a love of literature but also to inform an understanding of how English has changed over time. These texts create a springboard for exploring both creative and non-fiction reading and writing; students learn how to confidently express themselves whilst considering the power of rhetoric. Key skills in reading, writing and oracy are developed so that students are able to communicate clearly, assuredly and effectively for a range of audiences and purposes.

From Year 7, students follow the ambitious and inclusive English Mastery Curriculum, a programme backed by educational research that supports pupil progress and prepares them for the rigours of GCSE. This curriculum includes studying literary heritage texts, whilst developing mastery in writing as well as reading for pleasure.  Victorian literature is a recurring focus, with texts such as Oliver Twist and Sherlock Holmes Stories at the heart of literary analysis and discussion.  Drama is enjoyed across every year group; two Shakespearean plays are studied: the comedy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, as well as the modern adaptation of Small Island, which focuses on the diaspora of Jamaican immigrants to England shortly after World War Two.  These inspirational texts, coupled with poems from different cultures and times, aim to ignite a sense of wonder at the power of the written word, whilst providing students the opportunity to explore different times, people and places.  Writing Mastery lessons involve the discrete teaching of grammar and vocabulary, so that students can write accurately and skilfully whilst harnessing their creativity.  At the end of Year 9, students will research, plan, compose and deliver a speech to their peers, using the power of rhetoric to engage their audience and answer questions with confidence and clarity.  The foundations for success are laid in these important years before embarking upon the set texts for the GCSE curriculum.

Fortnightly Reading for Pleasure lessons take place in the wonderful Library.  In addition to reading books for enjoyment, students are encouraged to develop resilience and stamina in reading.  A range of incentives and activities that encourage engagement take place frequently, as well as popular enrichment opportunities such as the ‘Dungeons and Dragons Club’ and ‘Film and Theatre Club’.

At Key Stage 4, students work towards 2 GCSE qualifications: English language and English Literature.  English Language is the study of fiction, non-fiction and literary non-fiction texts from the 19th century onwards, including the requirement to write creatively and in the style of nonfiction.  English Literature is the study of prose, poetry and drama across time. Thematically linked texts from different contexts and genres are studied. Students are taught to develop their analytical skills through the exploration of language, structure, form and context, as well as the importance of authorial intent.  Moreover, using the set texts as inspiration, students develop the skills necessary to write in a range of forms and for a range of purposes.

The English Literature texts studied are Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’, ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens, ‘An Inspector Calls’ by J.B. Priestley and poetry from across time on the theme of ‘Power and Conflict’: the power of people, places, conflict and forces of nature. For English Language, students explore a range of fiction, non-fiction and literary non-fiction from the 19th century onwards.  The requirement here is to read and understand a number of previously unseen texts, and answer questions that require the skills of comparison, analysis and evaluation.  Students demonstrate their own composition skills in creative and nonfiction writing and receive a Spoken Language Endorsement Certificate alongside their GCSE qualifications.

Communication and Community

Our ability to communicate is what makes us human. The study of English in all its forms is to develop the key skills necessary to communicate clearly, express ideas and convey information in all aspects of life. Communication is vital in the course of the study of English; learners must be open receivers of communication conveyed by the texts they read and, likewise, their own communication must be clear in order to be received with clarity by its audience. Through the exploration of a range of topics, from different times and places, students are encouraged to become socially aware of community on a local, national and global scale.