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 The Woodroffe School, English at KS3 is taught for three hours a week in mixed ability groups. In Years 7 and 8, classes are taught as six distinct tutor groups of approximately 30 students and, for continuity, with the same English teacher. In Year 9, students move out of their tutor groups into subject pathways. English is taught alongside the Y7, 8 and 9 Literacy programmes.
Above all, our intention at KS3 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 leave Y9 as increasingly confident communicators in the written and spoken form. They will not only have a clear grasp of grammatical structures, but they will have 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 also start KS4 sure of the importance of English as a subject in its own right but also as the medium through which other subjects are taught.
As a truly comprehensive school, we recognise the need to support and challenge each student. Alongside the additional Literacy curriculum time for all Y7 and Y8 students (with the exception of those studying Mandarin), the Y9 Literacy group comprises those extracted from Language lessons, allowing for careful intervention with our most vulnerable readers. Here, smaller class sizes and more TA and Sixth Form help enable greater tailored support in accelerating reading and writing fluency, comprehension skills and emotional literacy. More able students are invited to join the fortnightly Extended Reading group. Theatre trips, an annual Poetry Live visit, a Carnegie book shadowing group and a weekly creative writing club for students of all abilities allow students to see English as not limited to a classroom – but as an experience which transports and excites.
Across Y7-9, students have six English lessons a fortnight. In Y7 and Y8, one of these six lessons a fortnight becomes a ‘Let’s Think in English’ lesson. This programme aims to systematically develop skills of inference, deduction and analysis to increase students’ confidence, understanding and ability to express ideas – particularly when working with previously unseen extracts of varying forms and genres.
We encourage active participation in all our classes; lessons include a balance of individual, paired and group work and a mix of discussion and written work.
The curriculum is designed to extend students’ skills and knowledge across the three years.
Year 7 sees students consolidating and developing skills practised at upper KS2 by reading a range of fiction and non-fiction texts, both pre and post-1900. Students also practise writing both fiction and non-fiction, for a range of audiences.
- The initial Writing to Argue unit allows for an initial assessment of students’ grammatical understanding and usage of key persuasive skills.
- Following this unit with ‘Tender Earth’ introduces soft analytical skills and emotional literacy skills, and enables students and teacher to enjoy reading a narrative together.
- Following this with ‘A Christmas Carol’ introduces students to studying and understanding the historical and social context of a text alongside plot and characterisation. Students are also introduced to the essentials of analytical writing, practising the selection of quotations and evidence to support ideas and considering the writer’s methods used. Students explore how Dickens presents aspects of characterisation in a particular passage.
- The subsequent Y7 Poetry: character and voice unit introduces students to different characters and voices but in poetic, rather than narrative, form. Students consolidate their analytical skills, constructing analytical paragraphs increasingly independently, and are introduced to approaching alternative interpretations of a text. Students are also introduced to new terminology, particularly exploring the structural aspects of a poem.
- The Narrative Writing unit returns to an explicit grammar focus, building on the opening unit of Y7, and allows Y7 students to explore the typical conventions of adventure fiction. Having identified these features in texts, students then practise these in their own writing whilst retaining the essentials of accurate writing (paragraphing, punctuation) explored in their first unit at Woodroffe.
- Students start the summer term with ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. They are introduced to the conventions of Shakespearean comedy and to approaches which help them to confidently tackle Shakespearean language.
- In their study of the modern play, ‘Face’, students consolidate the conventions of drama studied when covering ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and are introduced to other key dramatic terms and structural features such as a chorus.
- Students finish the year with AQA English Language Paper 1 skills which softly introduce the format and skills required in the later GCSE English Language questions. Students recap analytical skills when considering Q2 and, in approaching Q4, build on the work regarding alternative interpretations encountered in the poetry unit.
- Students also have a fortnightly dictation, fortnightly spelling, punctuation and grammar activity, and are read to fortnightly as well as regularly reading their own books independently.
Year 8 sees students consolidate and develop skills mastered at Y7 by reading a broad range of challenging texts from across different genres. They also write for a wider range of purposes and audiences.
- The Dystopian Narrative Openings unit allows students to demonstrate their understanding of the dystopian genre by creating their own dystopian setting and character. Writing only the opening demands students to synthesise and reduce the character arc and plot.
- The subsequent unit, the Y8 Poetry Anthology: poetic form, allows students to recap their specific poetry lexicon but also enjoy a variety of poetic forms and diverse contexts, times and authorships. Students again consider how writers are influenced by their surroundings, culture and literary heritage, as well as personal experience. Students’ appreciation of poetry is furthered through a focus on students writing their own poetry alongside analysing published work. Students consolidate the skills of analytical writing from Y7 and practise the evaluative response work undertaken at the end of the previous academic year. Students also demonstrate understanding of how poetic form can emphasise the content of a poem.
- Studying ‘Animal Farm’ next introduces students to increasingly complex literary features such as allegory. Moving on from the 19th century novel studied in Y7, students are introduced to the conventions of a 20th century novel and to the genre of dystopian writing. They also continue to explore the significance of a text’s social, historical and, now, political context. The writing to review assessment revisits persuasive and opinion writing work from Y7.
- Students then encounter ‘Twelfth Night’ or ‘The Tempest’ (teacher’s choice) where students recap the conventions of Shakespearean comedy and/or Shakespearean tragicomedy. In this unit, students further practise their analytical writing, concentrating on a specific passage of Shakespearean language; they also analyse the significance of the extract in the context of the wider play, preparing them for later GCSE English Literature assessments.
- The pre-1900 short story unit introduces students to the conventions of detective fiction and to the varying interpretations of the character of Sherlock Holmes. The reading assessment consolidates and furthers students’ analysis through developing an extended analytical response.
- Students start the summer term with AQA English Language Paper 1 skills unit which consolidates the Q4 evaluative skills explicitly practised at the end of Y7. Students are again softly reminded of the GCSE English Language question format and skills. Students are introduced to structural analysis through moving image.
- The Y8 curriculum finishes with a modern drama, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’, allowing students to recap the conventions of modern drama and to further their understanding of structural features and devices. Social context regarding Christopher’s learning and processing deepens students’ understanding of characterisation and dramatic function.
- Students also have a fortnightly dictation, fortnightly spelling, punctuation and grammar activity, and are read to fortnightly as well as regularly reading their own books independently.
The annual Year 8 Writing Day also allows students to enjoy writing for writing’s sake; a visiting author inspires students to develop their own story ideas – just for the sheer fun of it.
In Year 9, students build on and develop skills taught in Year 8 by studying increasingly demanding texts, across both fiction and non-fiction genres (such as diaries, reports, recounts, opinion articles and speeches). Texts previously featured on the GCSE syllabus stimulate and challenge all abilities. Writing units reinforce and develop skills taught in Y7 and Y8 with a more explicit focus on the requirements of the English Language GCSE.
- The ‘Y9 poetry anthology: war and conflict’ unit stretches students’ understanding of pre- and post-1900 poetry. To develop poetry analysis skills honed in Y8, students are taught and assessed on their ability to compare the presentation of a theme in two named poems in the style of a GCSE English Literature Paper 2 Section B style question. Students analyse the effects of writers’ methods and contextual factors in their analysis.
- Before studying the novel ‘Of Mice and Men’, students understand its social, historical and political context through reading and discussing narratives of the enslaved. GCSE Paper 1 English Language skills are practised throughout the reading of the novel, with close language analysis replicating Q2 and evaluative responses to exploratory statements mirroring Q4 style questions. Students also produce an extended piece of descriptive writing, leading to the recapping of the conventions of narrative and descriptive writing (Q5).
- Studying ‘Romeo and Juliet’ introduces students to the conventions of Shakespearean tragedy, prefiguring their study of ‘Macbeth’ at GCSE. Students are assessed by means of a GCSE English Literature Paper 1 style question, where students analyse the presentation of a character in a specific extract and then in the wider play.
- The ‘Writing to argue’ unit builds students’ confidence in approaching unseen non-fiction texts and consolidates the Y7 unit on persuasive writing. Students write an opinion article in response to a GCSE English Language Paper 2 Q5 style question. The teaching and practising of speaking and listening skills in this unit prepare students for their later GCSE Spoken Language assessment.
- The ‘AQA KS3 English Language Paper 2’ unit introduces students to the skills of summary and comparing attitudes and perspectives in preparation for KS4 alongside familiarising students, again, with language analysis.
- The short penultimate unit, narrative/descriptive writing skills, introduces students to structures used throughout KS4 to create tightly focused and controlled pieces of descriptive writing.
- Y9 students finish KS3 by studying a GCSE set text, ‘An Inspector Calls’. Students discuss the structural similarities to the previous modern drama texts studied at KS3 as well as considering capitalism, socialism and class in the Edwardian era. Students consider the plot, characterisation and main themes and prepare to study the text in greater detail at KS4.
- Students also enjoy a fortnightly standalone unseen poetry lesson. Students encounter and discuss a range of poems related to the themes of identity, love and relationships. Consequently, students develop their independent responses to poetry, as well as developing their emotional intelligence, and are increasingly prepared for the demands of the unseen poetry question at GCSE.
Students finish KS3 as increasingly articulate, inquisitive thinkers, readers and writers. They write with increasing accuracy for a variety of audiences and purposes and in different forms. They read with, and for, meaning.
Students are assessed each term in either reading or writing and by a GCSE exam style question (implicitly in Y7 and 8, and explicitly in Y9) in the summer term. Formative assessment is prioritised with students being able to see the progress they are making in reading (English Literature, green front sheets) and writing (English Language, red front sheets) disciplines on assessment front sheets where individualised written feedback is prioritised over a summative grade. Students recognise the need to take responsibility for their own learning; the school’s literacy marking code and ‘Now’ task system, in particular, facilitate this student-led response. The department is also increasingly trialling whole class feedback sheets.
Students finish KS3 recognising that texts are not written in a vacuum, but are affected by the contexts in which they are written and received. Students, throughout the course of KS3, learn to become more empathetic readers and writers.
Our teaching of English Language aims to ensure students can read a wide variety of texts fluently and with good understanding, while developing their vocabulary and ability to read critically and analyse texts. Knowledge gained from wide reading should also inform and improve students’ ability to write effectively and coherently, with a high level of accuracy. In addition, students learn to select and organise information and ideas effectively in spoken presentations, listening to and responding appropriately to questions and expressing ideas using Standard English as far as possible.
Our teaching of English Literature aims to further develop knowledge and skills in reading, writing and critical thinking. Through literature, students have the chance to develop culturally and acquire knowledge of the best that has been thought and written. Studying GCSE English Literature encourages students to read widely for pleasure and prepares those interested in studying literature at a higher level.
Our teaching of Media Studies aims to offer students the chance to study a contemporary and interactive subject. The AQA course encourages students to develop their creative, analytical, research, and communication skills, through exploring a range of media forms and perspectives. Lessons involve analysing a media text from any of the three media platforms (print; digital; broadcast) and exploring the text in relation to the context in which it was made, how it compares to other texts in its genre and how you can apply a theoretical standpoint to the text. Media Studies also allows students the chance to practise their creative skills by designing their own media product for their coursework.
English Language GCSE
Exam Board: AQA
In English lessons students are taught the skills of communication needed 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 texts used in the exams will be unseen.
Paper 1 – Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing
|Written exam – 1 hour 45 minutes forming 80 marks and 50% of GCSE.|
Paper 2 – Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives
|Written exam – 1 hour 45 minutes forming 80 marks and 50% of GCSE|
|Non-examination Assessment – Spoken Language
||Marked by teacher. Separate endorsement on exam certificate (does not contribute to GCSE grade)|
English Literature GCSE
Exam Board – AQA
English Literature is highly valued as a 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 believe it to be a highly enjoyable subject!
Paper 1 – Shakespeare and the 19th Century Novel. Texts studied:
|Written exam – 1 hour 45 minutes forming 64 marks and 40% of GCSE|
Paper 2 – Modern texts and Poetry. Texts studies:
|Written exam – 2 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 both subjects (English Language and English Literature) at GCSE.
Staff: Mrs Millman Jones; Mrs Hopton
English Literature A Level is a challenging and exciting course. The AQA specification provides excellent continuity with the GCSE course, while also widening opportunities for literary study within different genres and from contrasting cultures and time periods.
The course is examined around two main areas of study: Love Through the Ages and Modern Times, literature from 1945 to the present day. Within these two areas, students study Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ and a range of poetry, prose and drama texts, including ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F.Scott Fitzgerald, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood and ‘All My Sons’ by Arthur Miller. The examinations, with the exception of Shakespeare, are open book, allowing students to access a clean copy of their set texts.
Additionally, 20% of the course is assessed through a non-examined assessment comparative essay of 2500 words. Students compare the 19th century novel, ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’, with a text of their own choice from a different time period or genre. Students choose their area of comparative study and the essay is produced independently, with guidance and tutorials from teachers.
Throughout the course, students are encouraged to develop their analytical and critical skills through both wide reading and research into critical views. Lessons are lively and centred around discussion and debate, encouraging students to explore and evaluate a range of differing views about texts.
Enthusiasm for reading is essential for success in the course. Ian McEwan, the novelist, commented, “Studying English Literature at school was my first and probably my biggest step towards mental freedom and independence. It was like falling in love with life.” Additionally, as the course is highly academic and analytical, it provides an excellent foundation for university courses in many different disciplines.
In order to enrich our students’ learning, we seek opportunities for theatre visits and study sessions whenever they are relevant to the course. In the past, students have been fortunate to see first-class theatre productions at The Globe and The National Theatre in London, as well as regional theatres.
Staff: Mrs Petty; Miss Trunks
English Language A Level is a very different course from GCSE English Language. Students learn about the language of individuals and society, exploring issues of diversity such as gender and ethnicity, accent and dialect and how these are represented in texts. Students will also develop their grammatical knowledge and be supported to be able to analyse a variety of texts to establish how meanings and representations are created.
The course is topic led, exploring how language has changed from a tribal guttural language to the global language that is used by billions of people around the world as a first language or a contact language. We explore the impact of new technologies and consider how children acquire language from before birth and through their formative years. We learn about the theories of a variety of linguists and develop the skills to respond evaluatively to language data in the form of transcripts, articles or media texts.
The course is assessed through two external examinations and a non-examined assessment which is an individual investigation into language in action. Students choose their own investigation topic and develop a 2000 word written response which is supported by their own research findings. In addition, students will be invited to submit an example of their own original writing.
Throughout the course, students are encouraged to respond creatively to the topics covered. We undertake tasks such as writing a fairy tale that challenges gender stereotypes, an article that argues that language is in decline because of social media and even write our own stories for children (which we have taken into a local primary school in the past to read to the children and get feedback!)
The English Language course is challenging, theory based and varied. We encourage our students to become language investigators and to be aware of the fascinating way that language shapes our world.
Staff: Mrs Harley; Mr Middleton
Media A Level is separated into two exam components: Media One and Media Two. Both components explore media through four key concepts: media language; media representations; media industries and media audiences.
The media forms students study in Media One include advertising and marketing, music videos, film industry, radio and newspapers.
The media forms students study in Media Two include television, magazines, online social and participatory media/video games.
Students also complete non-exam assessment where they create a range of media texts in response to a brief provided by the exam board. This accounts for 35% of their A Level and allows students to develop their skills in Indesign and Photoshop.
There is an exam board prescribed set of texts (CSPs) that students will explore in depth. These texts are designed to provide rich and challenging opportunities for interpretation and in-depth critical analysis, enabling students to develop a detailed understanding of how the media communicate meanings and how audiences respond. They cover different historical periods and different global settings and will include examples of media students would not normally engage with, for example at least one media product produced before 1970 and at least one media product produced for a non-English speaking audience.
Mrs FarrowHead of English
Mrs HoptonSecond in English
Mrs Millman JonesEnglish
Mrs PettyHead of Year
Over the course of Sunday 18th and Monday 19th of July, I was privileged enough to visit Shakespeare’s Globe alongside Ellyn Kendall (Year 13). We were both finalists of Poetry by Heart- …[Read More] On Thursday 7th October, Mrs Millman Jones and I attended an afternoon reception at Number 10, Downing Street, to celebrate National Poetry Day. Following on from performing at the …[Read More]
Over the course of Sunday 18th and Monday 19th of July, I was privileged enough to visit Shakespeare’s Globe alongside Ellyn Kendall (Year 13). We were both finalists of Poetry by Heart- …[Read More]
On Thursday 7th October, Mrs Millman Jones and I attended an afternoon reception at Number 10, Downing Street, to celebrate National Poetry Day. Following on from performing at the …[Read More]