Where else can you travel in a time machine, solve a crime and have your own show broadcast live on the local radio? These are just some of the exciting learning opportunities St James’s English Department offers during the five year journey with us. Our goal is to provide an understanding and appreciation of the English Language historically to more contemporary developments such as Twitter, Facebook and internet blogs. The study of English is a living and growing subject from early poetry to Shakespeare, Dickens through to 21st century writers. One thing which sets English apart is the fact that it evolves and expands with times, trends and people. Through this chameleon characteristic we hope to inspire our pupils to develop a lifelong passion for English in all its forms
The English department comprises nine teachers.We are a team which prides itself on innovative teaching and learning strategies and close self-evaluation.
Key Stage 3
Although the curriculum is divided into two key stages, KS3 and KS4, we have a 5 year approach to learning in order to develop every child’s skills in each aspect of English. The aim of our teaching is to raise pupils’ achievement through their enjoyment of a curriculum which is creative and personalised, with a clear focus on literacy skills relevant for the modern world and work place.
At KS3 the curriculum is divided into year groups with schemes of learning linked to specific assessment focuses. As children are set according to ability after the first term in Year 7, these schemes are differentiated.
During the KS3 learning journey, pupils study a range of fiction by classical and contemporary writers. They will also experience writing from different cultures, as well as a selection of multimodal and non-fiction texts. After sinking their teeth into the horrors of Darren Shan, pupils have had the chance to meet and question the master of horror himself!
In each Year of KS3 pupils shake-up Shakespeare:-
- Year 7 market place activity
- Year 8 compete to modernise him with media
- Year 9 take page to stage
“There is a strong focus on the development of literacy skills at Key Stage 3 through the bronze, silver, gold and platinum programmes in Year 7 and the Olympic route programme in Year 8”.
OFSTED, December 2011
All KS3 learners are set wider reading challenges. These are actively promoted through schemes such as the Bronze to Platinum Reading Awards and the Olympic Read, causing some healthy rivalry amongst both English and form teachers!
En route to KS4, Year 9 pupils are prepared for an external examination in Functional Skills by the awarding body AQA. This involves assessments in reading, writing and spoken communication. It is a qualification with close links to our GCSE specifications.
Key Stage 4
On the final leg of their journey, pupils are prepared more specifically for their qualifications in GCSE English Language and Literature. We will assist them in the exploration of media and non-fiction texts. There will also be supervision and guidance in presenting, role-play and discussion skills. One of many speaking and listening activities involves the experience a real life courtroom in a mock trial set-up. Studies of contemporary and Literary Heritage poetry, prose and drama are enhanced with opportunities to see texts brought to life. We invite theatre companies to present peformances and pupils are able to take part in follow up workshops.
60% of the GCSE qualification in English Language is based on controlled assessment. The majority of these are undertaken in Year 10. Skills developed during these assessments are then more easily transferred to the requirements of the formal examination at the end of Year 11.
In English Literature, there are two external examination papers totalling 75% of the overall assessment and one piece of controlled assessment (25%). All assessments place a strong emphasis on the development of the ability to respond to a wide range of texts critically and imaginatively.