The English department at Swanmore prides itself on teaching children to become effective communicators and independent thinkers. Learning in English creates pupils who are confident, literate, articulate and empathetic; we encourage pupils to share our passion for the English Language and its literature and guide them to develop their own voice, both written and spoken.
The learning in English contributes to learning in all subjects and to life beyond school. Emphasis is given to the technical accuracy of pupils’ writing and comprehension skills in all schemes of work and this, in turn, is valued in all subjects across the curriculum.
Key Stage 3
All schemes of work at Key Stage Three have been designed to help students make progress in their reading, writing and speaking and listening skills. Pupils are introduced to a dynamic range of topics that cover texts from the literary canon, as well as contemporary texts and those produced for the mass media.
Homework tasks are designed to consolidate and extend the learning which has taken place in class. Homework is set once a week; however, extended homework tasks may also be set for particular schemes of work. Individual deadlines will be set by the class teacher and all homework tasks can be found on Show My Homework.
The English department works closely with the school library. In Year 7, one lesson a fortnight will take place in the library. In Year 8, pupils take part in the Year 8 reading challenge. This is designed to expose children to a range of quality books from a range of genres and encourage a love for reading.
The Year 7 Curriculum is designed to support the transition between Key Stage Two and Three and encourages pupils to become more independent in their thinking and learning, alongside ensuring that there is a developed core foundation of skills on which later achievement can be based.
Pupils will complete at least one formal assessment each half term that will be graded for attainment and effort.
The Year 8 Curriculum extends the skills developed in Year 7. Pupils will continue to be exposed to a range of challenging and engaging texts, including those from other cultures, that will enable them to develop their analytical and empathy skills and become more confident and accurate writers. Pupils will complete at least one formal assessment each half term that will be graded for effort as well as attainment.
Pupils will develop their comprehension skills as well as their critical voice in responding to a range of texts. These will include traditional and modern poetry, non-fiction and media, Shakespeare and contemporary novels. The approaches taken in studying these texts will include studying the language choices writers make, the structures used and the themes they explore.
Using reading texts as a stimulus, pupils will be given the opportunity to write a range of text types incorporating both non-fiction and fiction. Students will be encouraged to develop and improve their writing skills through careful planning, drafting, upgrading and proof reading. Opportunities are given for students to reflect on their own writing, as well as the work of others.
Speaking and listening:
Speaking and listening activities are used throughout the year to help students develop confidence in their own voice and opinions. Activities are designed to enable students to make progress in a range of contexts e.g presenting, discussing and performing. As well as formal assessments, students are encouraged to voice their ideas in class through group and class discussions.
Swanmore College has been using the Accelerated Reader programme with all Year 8 pupils, across the ability range, to get them excited about books. This highly successful reading programme will help us to focus attention on the careful reading of books to improve pupils’ critical thinking skills and build an intrinsic love of reading.
Accelerated Reader provides three easy steps to guide pupils to appropriate books within their zone of proximal development (ZPD). This helps teachers to give guidance to individual pupils, to encourage challenge with our more able readers, and to plan intervention with pupils who need extra support.
Pupils’ reading skills are assessed using STAR Reader.
Step 1: Pupils are guided to read a book within their ZPD level.
Step 2: Pupils take a comprehension quiz on the book they have read. Accelerated Reader offers more than 85,000 quizzes on library books, popular reading and text books. The quizzes provide assessment information to help motivate reading, monitor progress and target instruction to accelerate reading growth.
Step 3: Information is provided from the quizzes, in easy to read reports, on the comprehension skill of each pupil to guide instruction and help pupils select further reading material.
Key Stage 4
Year 9 is an enrichment year in English and English Literature, enabling pupils with a focus on introducing and learning many of the skills required to underpin the GCSE course itself in Year 10 and 11. It also affords the possibilities of ‘cultural currency’: allowing pupils access to texts and the exploration of texts or criticism that they may not otherwise meet, but that may be invaluable in their future study.
Although pupils will not study the actual texts that they will use in Year 10, all of the work they complete will be of a GCSE standard in order to carefully manage the transition from KS3 to KS4. The Year 9 curriculum is dynamic, rigorous and original in its approach to the KS4 syllabus and some pupils even go as far as to enjoy it!
Whilst there is a focus on experiencing new topics and texts for study, there is also a deliberate and conscious deepening of pupils’ skills and understanding: the role of the reader; the importance of word-level analysis; the need for precise and deliberate choices in structure and vocabulary in writing; the influence of context on an author.
Pupils in Year 9 will experience a range of approaches to lessons and to learning, allowing all pupils to enjoy a variety of learning strategies enabling them to develop their autonomy as a learner, and to find an approach that suits them as they venture into Years 10 and 11.
Assessments in Year 9 follow the AQA English Language and English Literature formats, and pupils will be assessed formally at least once in each unit of work. This may be for Reading, Writing, Literature (Shakespeare / Poetry) or Speaking and Listening.
In Year 10, pupils will be following the AQA English Language and English Literature GCSEs. This will lead to the award of two qualifications and, whilst both are taught in the same classroom by the same teacher, the certification is discreet between the two subjects.
There is a larger element of content to be learned across Year 10 and into Year 11, particularly in English Literature, and pupils will be able to put into practice the independence and creative thinking learned in Key Stage Three and Year 9, alongside the deliberate drafting and precise writing skills, when applying themselves to these tasks.
Pupils are expected to complete four controlled assessments for GCSE English Language: Extended Reading; Creative Writing (two pieces) and Spoken Language Study. These are worth 40% of the pupil’s final grade and marked and moderated within the English Department.
There is also a Speaking and Listening component to the English Language award, although this is reported separately to the main GCSE.
There is one final exam for English Language, testing both reading and writing skills, and this may only be sat in the Summer examinations.
For English Literature, there is one controlled assessment: Shakespeare and the English Literary Heritage (a comparison of two texts). This is worth 25% of the final award, with the remaining 75% coming from two exams: one on two longer texts (usually novels), one on poetry.
Although much of the content of both GCSEs is prescribed for us by AQA, we are still able to select from within a range of texts and a small selection of controlled assessment tasks. As a department, we endeavour to choose those that are most appropriate to pupils’ needs and potential, so that a class may, for example, be working with more than one selection of poetry within a class at any one time, or choose from a range of creative writing tasks, rather than just one.
In all instances, with the controlled assessments, we are prohibited by the exam board from marking or responding to drafts or parts of essays while under construction, and all essays must be completed under teacher supervision. There is no facility for pupils to re-draft controlled assessments.
Year 11 will be completing their WJEC English Language and English Literature curricula. The work of the controlled assessments from Year 10 has been completed and pupils will be focus on honing their skills and revising relevant content prior to the Summer examinations.
There are two examinations for English Language, worth 60% in total, one for reading and one for writing. Each examination lasts for one hour and is an assessment of all the reading and writing skills acquired over a pupils’ education.
For Writing, Year 11 focus is on adapting language, style and structure to audience and purpose – selecting and exploiting a particular text type to influence a reader. To develop these skills, pupils engage with a variety of texts and are afforded many opportunities to practise their skills in practice exams, as well as less formal situations.
For Reading, Year 11 is an opportunity to finalise approaches to writing about a text, planning quick responses and fully exploring language and structure in fiction and non-fiction.
With a strong focus on the skills of reading through Year 11, pupils will be able to re-visit their three texts for the English Literature exam, as well as poetry, to enhance their own interpretations of the texts they will have worked with in Year 10.
There are two exams for English Literature: one which explores a pupil’s understanding of themes and ideas in a text looking at a different culture, as well as unseen poetry; one which examines a pupils’ knowledge and skills relating to a modern play and an older novel.
Pupils should be aware of the texts that are being studied for the English Literature GCSE and may want to have a copy to revise from.