At RSA all learners develop a range of skills through studying the three main areas of the English curriculum: reading, writing and speaking and listening. The curriculum is sequenced over KS3 and KS4 to develop the key knowledge, concepts and skills needed to prepare learners for GCSE, A-level and beyond. The fully inclusive English Curriculum provides opportunities for enrichment including a range of different out of class experiences and trips which link to the programmes of study. Students are also invited to participate in extracurricular clubs linked to the curriculum, to equip learners with the knowledge and cultural capital to become educated citizens. The curriculum is spiral to ensure that as students’ progress through the different years, they build upon and develop skills they have been taught as they progress onto more difficult texts and concepts. The curriculum is broad and balanced with a focus on fostering an appreciation of critical theory and literature as a conscious construct.
What are the minimum expectations of the National Curriculum/ Exam Specification?
The KS3 National Curriculum for English states that all pupils must study:
“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”.
This is further broken down into:
- high quality prose, poetry and drama from pre-1914
- high quality contemporary prose, poetry and drama
- two plays by Shakespeare
- seminal world literature
- re-reading books
- studying at least two authors in depth each year
- oracy (speaking and listening)
Writing expectations are broken down into pupils being able to:
- Write accurately for a wide range of purposes and audiences, including formal and narrative essays, poetry of their own creation, scripts, narratives and non-fiction texts such as letter writing and speeches.
- Summarise and organise material, including how to support an argument.
- Apply a growing knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, punctuation and text structure to their writing.
- Draw on their knowledge of literary and rhetorical devices and apply these to their own writing to increase its impact.
- Plan, draft, proof-read and edit writing.
At GCSE for English Literature, pupils are required to study:
- a Shakespeare play
- a modern drama
- a pre-1914 novel
- 18 poems from an Anthology that covers 1789 to the present day
- unseen poetry
Where/ how do we exceed the minimum expectations for the National Curriculum/ Exam Specification?
As a department, we see these requirements as the absolute basics. Going beyond this in our curriculum choices and range of texts studied, we have our own ‘minimum literary entitlement’ which ensures students have a broad knowledge of the canon combined with writers of minority / marginalised groups to expand their worldview.
- Students develop an appreciation and love of reading, and read increasingly challenging material independently through reading 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. The range will include high-quality works from English literature, both pre-1914 and contemporary, including prose, poetry and drama, Shakespeare and seminal world literature.
- Students are taught to choose and read books independently for challenge, interest and enjoyment.
- The spiral curriculum ensures students understand increasingly challenging texts through learning new vocabulary, relating it explicitly to known vocabulary and understanding it with the help of context and dictionaries.
- Students learn to make inferences and refer to evidence in the text, knowing the purpose, audience for and context of the writing and drawing on this knowledge to support comprehension.
- They learn to read critically through knowing how language, including figurative language, vocabulary choice, grammar, text structure and organisational features, presents meaning , studying setting, plot, and characterisation, and the effects of these.
- Pupils are taught to write accurately, fluently, effectively and at length for pleasure and information through writing for a wide range of purposes and audiences, including: well-structured formal expository and narrative essays stories, scripts, poetry and other imaginative writing notes and polished scripts for talks and presentations.
- Students practice drawing on their knowledge of literary and rhetorical devices from their reading and listening to enhance the impact of their writing. They plan, draft, edit and proof-read through, considering how their writing reflects the audiences and purposes for which it was intended, amending the vocabulary, grammar and structure of their writing to improve its coherence and overall effectiveness.
- Pupils are taught to consolidate and build on their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary, studying the effectiveness and impact of the grammatical features of the texts they read, drawing on new vocabulary and grammatical constructions from their reading and listening, and using these consciously in their writing and speech to achieve particular effects.
- Pupils are taught to speak confidently and effectively, including using Standard English confidently in a range of formal and informal contexts, classroom discussion, giving short speeches and participating in formal debates and structured discussions.
- Additionally, students are provided with weekly vocabulary lessons which aim to strengthen their knowledge and application of ambitious vocabulary. This, then equips them with an invaluable source of cultural capital.
How is the curriculum sequenced to help student know more and remember more over time?
To be reviewed to ensure a “golden thread” of knowledge building upon knowledge.
KS3 – English is taught over 8 hours per cycle
KS4 – English is taught over 8 hours per cycle
Students who do not meet the expected standard of literacy during KS2 receive one-to-one or small group intervention where they complete intensive reading intervention using a reading comprehension and grammar catch-up programme.
The spiral curriculum ensures students understand increasingly challenging texts through learning new vocabulary, relating it explicitly to known vocabulary and understanding it with the help of context and dictionaries
Students learn to make inferences and refer to evidence in the text, knowing the purpose, audience for and context of the writing and drawing on this knowledge to support comprehension. The curriculum delivers a range of diverse voices, dedicated vocabulary lessons, rigorous texts- exposing students to canonical works.
What pedagogical approaches are used to ensure high quality learning takes place?
In order to bridge the gap between research and practice, the English department utilises Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction.
- There are numerous ways to review previous learning, however within the English department we largely use knowledge recall quizzes and quotation recall to ensure links are made to prior learning. Quizzing is an effective way to promote long-term retention whilst being low stakes for pupils.
- To minimize the risk of cognitive overload, new material is presented in small steps with opportunity for student practice after each step. One of the ways in which we address this, especially when teaching longer texts is through asking lots of clarifying questions and allowing opportunities for written and verbal comprehension. Furthermore, students are consistently challenged through the teachers use of questioning. Within English lessons at Rudheath you would expect to see the following types of questions asked: factual questions, process questions, probing questions and tiered questions.
- Modelling is an essential aspect of effective teaching. Classroom practitioners recognize the value in using and deconstructing models to cognitively support and stretch our pupils. Within English you will also find effective student models are provided within feedback lessons to ensure students know what success looks like and can emulate themselves.
- Additionally, in his fifth principle of instruction, Rosenshine says that effective teachers use guided practice. In an English lesson at Rudheath, this could be seen in one of the following ways: summarising and guided practice) For example, if a teacher had read the opening chapter Of Of Mice and Men¸ they might invite the students to verbally summarise key moments within that chapter, taking responses from numerous students and then ask students to apply their knowledge by writing down their own summary into their exercise books. With regards to guided practice, lessons incorporate pre-prepared guided annotation sheets which allow for the teacher to guide students in their initial stage of practice, before gradually releasing responsibility from the students leading to independent practice.
- Within English lessons at Rudheath, this could be in the form of an extended piece of writing after extensive modelling, expert instruction and guided practice. Independent practice is absolutely vital for students to have an opportunity to apply their knowledge.
How are you teaching literacy through your subject?
Students must read a range of texts throughout KS3 and 4. The reading is often modelled and read aloud to ensure comprehension. GL assessment as well as the reading ages acquired from Literacy Assessment program to help ensure reading materials are challenging but also accessible. The texts chosen throughout our English curriculum offer a wide range of high-quality, challenging, classic literature and extended literary non-fiction. Students are given the opportunity to write accurately,
fluently, effectively and at length for pleasure and information. They are also taught to speak confidently, audibly and effectively, including through in class formative questioning and the use of re-casting sentences to ensure Standard English is being used. They are also given the opportunity to develop their oracy skills through the delivery of presentation and speech within the curriculum. Tier 2 and 3 vocabulary is explicitly within the curriculum through the study of word etymology through the use of the ‘Frayer’ model when introducing new vocabulary.
How do you ensure the needs are ALL learners are met?
The curriculum is designed and delivered to allow all learners needs to be met. Lessons use scaffolding to ensure students achieve the same challenging outcomes at the end of each learning sequence. Scaffolding used to ensure accessibility to all content is provided such as writing frames, sentence stems, tiered questioning and vocabulary banks.
Disadvantaged students are supported within the curriculum through a range of techniques such as; vocabulary being taught explicitly along with allocated vocabulary lessons in KS3 to close the vocabulary gap, reading tests are given once a half term to monitor reading ages and ensure literacy intervention is provided to students who need it. All lessons will also have texts read aloud to ensure pupils of all reading abilities can access the materials, to help close the reading gap.
Within the English department teachers teach to the top and scaffold activities to support students in achieving mastery of each concept. Through the use of high level modelling. Data from SMID as well as the SENCAR are used by all teachers within the department to inform planning and delivery of lessons. This information along with strategies identified by pupil profiles are used to inform classroom practices such as seating plans and resources bespoke to individual learners. Key groups such as SEND, vulnerable, gender, EAL will have any gaps identified through data analysis on a termly basis, so intervention can be provided.
Assessment and feedback
All lessons have formative assessment embedded through the use of knowledge recall drills, high level, cold calling and targeted questioning and all lessons end with a reflection task in order to consolidate students learning. This allows all class teachers to gauge students understanding through the use of low stake testing. Every two weeks an extensive piece of writing is marked and fed back to the class in a whole class feedback lesson. Students are provided the opportunity to improve their writing during this lesson through targeted feedback and the use of exemplar models, this is presented via a whole-class feedback sheet. All improvements made by students are done in green pen.
Progress and attainment data is collected three times a year from the exams sat in December, March and July. Exam questions are interleaved from the course content studied to date. Prior to assessment, students revisit and revise all material covered since the start of their course. Student’s receive question level feedback about the areas they need to improve and are given time to respond.
Interim assessments take place each half term and are alternated between reading and writing assessments. There are also spoken language assessment points during each half term where
students are asked to prepare speeches, presentations or participate in group discussion and debate.
Students have access to online learning platforms and each class teacher sets extra learning opportunities and monitors evidence of engagement.
KS3: Students should learn their 5 vocabulary words for the specific week, self-testing on the definition and spelling using “look cover check” method, writing out repeatedly to ensure retention. Students are also provided with a vocabulary worksheet which they must complete ahead of their vocabulary lesson. Students are strongly encouraged to read outside of English lessons and can access reading material through the “Independent Reading Booklet”. It is recommended that students read at least twice a week for 30 minutes.
KS4: Students are set weekly homework which includes revising areas of study that have been taught across the year. Students each have a Seneca log in to access quizzes and tasks related to their Literature texts and Language Papers studied at GCSE.
Y7 Homework is set once a week on a Tuesday. All other year groups are set on a Thursday. Students will have a week to complete their homework. The homework can be accessed both through MS Teams or a hard copy can be provided to ensure access for all.
What opportunities are offered to enrich the cultural capital of ALL learners?
Through exposing students to a wide range of diverse and canonical texts, students are provided with ample opportunities to develop their cultural capital. Furthermore, as a means of further enriching their cultural capital, students are also provided with an “Independent Reading Booklet” designed to foster a love of reading and broaden their horizons to the world of Literature- outside of the English classroom. For students who regularly and intensively engage with independent reading, students will be rewarded with bespoke English department prizes.
Furthermore, we are in the privileged position to offer an array of extra-curricular activities such as the newly launched “Media Club”. This club provides a platform for students to develop their knowledge of the wider world, critiquing recent news stories and practice their writing and editing skills (an essential aspect of being an English student).
Over the course of a student’s 5-year journey at Rudheath, they will be provided with the opportunity to attend numerous trips. To name a few, in KS3, students will experience a “Ghost Walk” to compliment their study of Horror Writing. We also offer the opportunity to see a dramatic interpretation of a Shakespeare play.
What is the subject offer for blended learning?
All learners will have access to an English Microsoft Teams where they will have access to resources, homework and be able to communicate with the class teacher and other pupils within
their group. If learners are absent from lessons for any period of time they will be able to access learning materials to maintain access to the curriculum.
In the eventuality of a lockdown due to COVID-19 restrictions the department will take a blended approach to learning including a well-thought out cycle of synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities. Provide frequent, clear explanation of new content, delivered by a teacher of through high-quality curriculum resources.
How do you ensure staff development in your curriculum area?
All teachers in the Rudheath English department see themselves as lifelong learners and continue to seek every opportunity to develop themselves. As Dylan William states ‘every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better’.
We pride ourselves on the fact that we are an evidence informed department, using recent educational research to inform everything that we do. We place enormous importance on staff development ensuring that teaching and learning is of the highest standard for the benefits of the young people in our community. Aside from access to the whole school CPD curriculum, English, at the beginning of every academic year, staff are provided with a subject knowledge audit which identifies department priorities for that year. A bespoke CPD package is then created and implemented to address department needs. Furthermore, staff have the opportunity to access a wide range of CPD which involves a PIXL subscription, Pocket Pedagogy morning sessions, and various online CPD materials readily available. Sharing good practice to improve learning and teaching is greatly encouraged informally and within department meetings.
By the end of their 5-year journey at The Rudheath Senior Academy, learners will have read a variety of different kinds of texts; both fiction and non-fiction. They will also be fluent readers and students will be able to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others thus becoming empathetic and kind citizens. Students will possess knowledge and understanding of how communication is at the heart of a successful society; how it plays a key role in the development of civilisation, and how language and literature has the power to unite us emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. English incorporates a cross-section of other disciplines (i.e. history, RE, science, art) enabling students to forge connections and re-examine their learning in varied contexts. Ultimately, the impact of our English curriculum will see our learners embodying our key values of excellence and kindness. They will be equipped to enter the world of work with the necessary communication and literacy skills to survive and thrive in an increasingly competitive and unpredictable world.
English has ongoing Quality Assurance throughout the year via learning walks, lesson observations, work scrutiny’s, student voice and weekly meetings. Examples of best practice are regularly shared to encourage a culture of continuous improvement. To ensure the curriculum meets the needs of our learners, the curriculum is reviewed yearly to allow opportunity for curriculum development.