English Curriculum

Intent

The English curriculum is designed to reflect our school values and beliefs as set out in the school’s mission statement, ‘Achievement for All’ and that of the Liverpool Diocesan Schools Trust, ‘Jesus grew in wisdom and stature’.

Our curriculum is a knowledge based curriculum that demonstrates our high aspirations for pupils. It has been designed to be fully inclusive to enable all our students to achieve excellence. We have drawn upon concepts and vocabulary from KS4 and KS5 when designing the KS3 and KS4 curriculum to ensure that our pupils are well equipped for the next stage. We have designed an ambitiously academic English language and literature curriculum; one that is knowledge-rich and which introduces students to ideas and concepts beyond the National Curriculum and prescribed examination specifications.

Our curriculum is sequenced in a way that allows students at KS3 to develop the necessary skills for KS4 whilst also fostering a love for English reading and writing. Our pupils are taught by knowledgeable and enthusiastic teachers who are given some autonomy in terms of how they approach a topic. Different reading and writing skills are developed in year 7 and revisited each year in varied ways to consolidate and develop upon pupils’ starting points. The length of time devoted to different topics and skills varies in order that each area of study is allotted enough time for skills to be embedded and texts to be studied in depth.

We believe that all pupils, regardless of ability, can develop strong literacy skills and the curriculum is designed to challenge all pupils whilst remaining accessible for those who have historically demonstrated weak levels of literacy. All pupils work towards the same assessment each half term, regardless of their starting points.

Reading is prioritised with KS3 lessons starting with a portion of the lesson devoted to independent reading. We have invested in the Renaissance Accelerated Reading scheme which allows students to take independent tests on the texts that they have been reading and offers teachers an additional assessment tool to ensure that pupils are making rapid progress in terms of their reading.

Throughout KS3 and KS4 we try to ensure that pupils are exposed to a wide range of poetry, drama and prose texts in order that they might complete their time at St Michael’s with an understanding of the approaches and the literary style of a wide variety of writers. Our aim is that all pupils regardless of ability or background, leave St Michael’s not only well qualified but as confident individuals and responsible citizens who can make a positive contribution to any part of society and who can live rewarding and fulfilling lives.

 

Implementation

Our Key Stage 3 curriculum is designed to meet the requirements of the National Curriculum and to expand its scope wherever possible. We have planned the curriculum by carefully sequencing the knowledge and concepts taught to ensure that prior knowledge is built upon and higher order skills such as problem solving and critical reasoning are developed. Students are given a knowledge organiser for each unit of work outlining the key knowledge and vocabulary that students are expected to know. The retention and recall of knowledge is central to our curriculum aim and to support this, the use of low stakes quizzing and other methods of retrieval practice are employed in lessons. Pupils are taught both English language and literature, covering narrative and non-fiction writing techniques; in depth studies of thematically linked poetry; crime writing; Shakespeare’s works; modern novels and speaking and listening skills. These topics are revisited in year 9 using different and more challenging texts as a stimulus. Curriculum content in this year is focused on consolidating knowledge and understanding from earlier years to ensure that key concepts are embedded in pupils’ long term memory. In addition ideas and concepts beyond the Key Stage 3 National Curriculum are explored to support the smooth transition and curriculum progression to Key Stage 4.

Pupils are formally assessed once a term through in class assessments and an end of year exam. Teachers complete three other informal assessments per year in order to inform their own teaching and planning. Assessments are designed to test students’ knowledge, comprehension and skills of application. They are also carefully planned to shape future learning and to identify any gaps in conceptual understanding. Moderation of assessments takes place regularly during designated times to ensure consistency and accuracy of judgement.

At Key Stage 4, students follow the Eduqas English Language and English literature GCSE. For English language they will complete a speaking and listening assessment and two exams that focus on fiction and non-fiction writing. Our aim is to equip students to complete their studies with the highest possible standards of reading, writing and speaking and listening skills in order that they can feel confident in all aspects of the their literacy and communication in later life. Students also study the Eduqas English literature GCSE course, covering a range of modules such as Shakespeare, poetry anthology and unseen poetry responses; Post 1914 prose/drama and 19th century prose. Students are encouraged to explore the texts in great depth and offer personal interpretations that demonstrate an appreciation of the polysemic nature of the texts. The WJEC Eduqas GCSE in English literature encourages learners to develop knowledge and skills in reading, writing and critical thinking. It provides learners with opportunities to read widely for pleasure across a range of high quality texts in the genres of prose, poetry and drama and to develop an understanding of how literature is both rich and influential. It enables learners to make connections across their reading and develop a clear understanding of literary works and also prepares them for the study of literature at a higher level.

Our curriculum provision at Key Stage 5 follows the AQA B English literature specification. We approach the reading and study of literature through the lens of genre and theory, encouraging the independent study of a range of texts within a shared context, giving logic and meaning to the way that texts are grouped for study. This unifying approach facilitates the inclusion of a range of wider reading, thus extending students’ experience and appreciation of literature. Offering clear progression from GCSE, this course allows students to build on the skills and knowledge already gained and prepare for their next steps. The variety of assessment styles used, such as passage-based questions, unseen material, single text questions, multiple text questions, open- and closed-book approaches, allows students to develop a wide range of skills, such as the ability to read critically, analyse, evaluate and undertake independent research which are valuable for both further study and future employment.


The English department also offer a Creative Media BTEC which develops students’ power of analysis, ability to structure engaging narratives and their technical literacy. Pupils are taught to analyse the way in which media texts are constructed and apply a range of key concepts and theories to validate their arguments. The course is structured to allow students to experiment with creative ideas whilst acknowledging the impact of the choices they make in structuring a text. Students are encouraged to approach the media with a more critical eye and the course provokes them to contemplate the ways in which the media can be utilised as a tool for mass manipulation.


All our teaching staff are well qualified and have the necessary expertise and skills to carry out their role in the delivery of our knowledge –rich curriculum. Staff have ongoing professional development and training, for example focusing on key skills required for higher level responses to exam papers and sections of departmental meetings are devoted to sharing best practice. Teachers have an input when it comes to curriculum mapping and the head of department and manager of KS3 take a lead in establishing the objectives that are to be covered in order to ensure that students are covering a range of skills throughout their time at St Michael’s. In addition, staff have access to a range of professional development opportunities offered by our examination boards and some staff who mark for Eduqas deliver CPD to the rest of the department in order to ensure that all staff have the highest quality CPD.


The curriculum is well-resourced. Students have access to texts as well as a wealth of additional resources, including access to digital and online applications. Our curriculum is quality assured through the school’s own self-review processes. The head of department monitors lessons and scrutinises pupils’ work routinely to review the curriculum and to ensure that there is no disparity between the planned and delivered curriculum.

Lesson reviews focus on the taught curriculum as well as the aspects of pedagogy which best implement our knowledge-rich curriculum in the classroom, for example the use of recall and retention strategies and deliberate practice. The Head of department liaises with the attached link governor to discuss the curriculum and student progress and ensure that they curriculum is in line with the overall school vision.

A fundamental aim of our curriculum is to ensure entitlement for all. This is implemented through planning which ensures every pupil has access to a curriculum that has depth and breadth across each key stage and which is delivered appropriately to all groups. Interventions are designed to enhance students’ literacy skills to enable them to gain concrete understanding of challenging concepts.

 

Impact

The curriculum ensures pupils at St Michael’s develop the key knowledge and skills needed to achieve well. In English has historically demonstrated pupil outcomes that are at or above national expectations and each year we strive to achieve more. Pupils are encouraged to achieve the highest possible standard and for the past two years we have had a number of students achieving the highly aspirational grade 9 at GCSE and A* at A level.

Pupil voice demonstrates that pupils enjoy the English curriculum and that they find that their teachers instil a sense of self belief that they can achieve the grade that they wish to aspire to. Each year our A level students go on to study English and Media at A level and often up to half of the year 12 cohort pursue a course delivered by the English department.

 

English plan

 

 

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