We enjoy our subject and our main aim is to communicate this enthusiasm to our students in the hope that they will become lifelong lovers of literature and language in all its amazing variety!
All English lessons are taught in mixed ability groups. As a truly comprehensive school, we recognise the need to support and challenge each of our students and our key aim is to ensure that students of all abilities enjoy and are actively engaged in their learning in English. Above all, our intention is to instil a love of reading in our students – and, at the very least, to impart the centrality of reading. We want our students to see the distinct link between reading and good writing. Our aim is that students become increasingly confident communicators in the written and spoken form: they will not only have a clear grasp of grammatical structures, but also an interest in vocabulary and, fundamentally, in producing and receiving information – in a variety of forms – which helps them to make sense of the world around them. Students will develop an understanding of the importance of English as a subject in its own right but also as the medium through which other subjects are taught.
As the national curriculum states:
“English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.”
The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
(The National Curriculum in England – Key Stages 3 and 4, 2014)
At KS3 (Years 7-9), students are assessed each term in either reading or writing with an exam at the end of each year. Students’ assessed work can be seen in their exercise books.
At KS4 (Years 10-11), all students are prepared for GCSEs in both English Language and English Literature, following the AQA syllabuses. GCSEs are now wholly exam-based. Media Studies is also offered as an optional subject at GCSE and still contains a coursework element.
At KS5 (Years 12-13) we offer English Literature, English Language and Media Studies A levels, which all contain a coursework element and a final examination.
We have seven purpose-built English classrooms in close proximity to the school library, allowing students easy access to this key resource. We have a set of small Chromebook computers and access to ICT rooms.
Writers are invited to talk with selected year groups. Year 8 students experience a creative writing day and Years 9 and 10 enjoy a performance of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Macbeth’ respectively by a visiting professional theatre company. Recently we have also been able to take advantage of the National Theatre’s free live screenings for schools. Throughout the school, we encourage involvement in the additional activities we organise from theatre trips to writing competitions and workshops. We also run a popular creative writing club once a week with the help of a local writer.
At Woodroffe students are encouraged to maintain a wide range of reading experiences, both fiction and non-fiction as a matter of routine to develop their understanding of how texts in various forms engage, inform and persuade, and to support the development of vocabulary. As well as in English lessons, this encouragement takes place through the Year 7 Literacy programme, through Tutor Group reading sessions, writer visits, access to a well-stocked library, displays and any additional resources that are made available to us.
We cannot over-emphasise the importance of reading widely – both fiction and non-fiction texts – in order to succeed not just in English but across the curriculum as a whole. Please see the recommended reading lists for different key stages in the Reading and Literacy section of the website for ideas.
Students are encouraged to engage in a range of writing experiences, both inside and outside the classroom, using their reading as models of good practice. The department runs a creative writing club, advertises a number of writing competitions (for both fiction and non-fiction genres) and holds a creative writing day in Year 8.
Students will build on and develop skills taught at upper KS2 by reading a range of fiction and non-fiction texts as well as extracts from fiction and non-fiction texts written before 1900. Texts studied include ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and ‘Face’, a modern drama. Students will also study a variety of poems.
Narrative/descriptive and persuasive writing skills are also taught.
In Years 7 and 8 all students participate in the ‘Let’s Think in English’ programme, the aim of which is to systematically develop the skills of inference, deduction and analysis, in order to develop students’ metacognitive ability and increase students’ confidence, understanding and ability to express ideas.
Students will build on and develop skills taught in Year 7 by reading a broad range of challenging texts from across different genres, including a variety of poems from different eras with a focus on understanding how writers are influenced by their surroundings, culture and literary heritage, as well as personal experience. Texts studied include ‘The Tempest’, ‘Animal Farm’, Sherlock Holmes: ‘A Study in Scarlet’ and ‘The Speckled Band’, and a play version of ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’.
A dystopian writing unit is also taught and, in the summer term, we hold the Year 8 Writing Day when a visiting author will help to inspire students to develop their own story ideas.
Students will build on and develop skills taught in Year 8 by studying increasingly challenging texts, both fiction and non-fiction (diaries, reports, recounts, opinion articles, speeches). Whole texts studied include ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ ‘Of Mice and Men’ and pre- and post-1900 poetry previously taught at GCSE.
Narrative/descriptive and persuasive writing units also reinforce and develop skills previously taught in Year 7 in preparation for the writing requirements of English Language GCSE.
In the second half of the summer term we begin the GCSE English Literature course by studying of one of the set texts, J B Priestley’s ‘An Inspector Calls.’
English Language GCSE
Exam Board: AQA
In English lessons students are taught the skills of communication that they need for every aspect of daily life, both in school and beyond. Lessons contain a balance of speaking and listening, reading and writing to help them develop and apply these skills.
All tests in the exam will be unseen.
Paper 1 – Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing
|Written exam – one hour 45 minutes forming 80 marks and 50% of GCSE.|
Paper 2 – Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives
|Written exam – one hour 45 minutes forming 80 marks and 50% of GCSE|
|Non-examination Assessment – Spoken Language
||Teacher set throughout the course – Marked by teacher
Separate endorsement (0% weighting of GCSE)
English Literature GCSE
Exam Board – AQA
English Literature is a highly valued subject by both employers and higher education institutions as it enables students to develop an understanding of themselves and of the world around them as well as honing the skills of analysis which are useful in many areas of work and education. We also think it is a highly enjoyable subject.
Paper 1 – Shakespeare and the 19th Century Novel
|Written exam – one hour 45 minutes forming 64 marks and 40% of GCSE|
Paper 2 – Modern texts and Poetry
|Written exam – two hours 15 minutes forming 96 marks and 60% of GCSE|
The Literature exams are ‘closed book’, i.e. students have no access to copies of the texts studied during the exams.
All students will take the two subjects (English Language and English Literature).
Years 12 & 13
Students need to have achieved Grade 6 as a minimum to proceed to A level. The department offers Media Studies, English Language and English Literature at A level.
You can find out more information about courses offered at A Level by visiting the Sixth Form pages here.
Graphics & Poetry 2017/18
Hyde & Shriek 2016