English Language & Literature
The intent of the English curriculum at St Luke’s C of E School is to expose students to a world outside their lived experience, exploring perspectives and viewpoints that are different from their own through the study of fiction and non-fiction texts from across the ages. We focus strongly on themes of social justice and the exploration of power and conflicts that have shaped society. We explore how writers are influenced by their individual experiences and contexts (be they political, societal, or literary) and how they use language to create meaning and influence. Our School’s Principles of Excellent Teaching are based on research on learning and cognitive science by Willingham, Rosenshine and Sherrington. As such, we approach teaching English with intentionality, considering the impact of prior learning and new knowledge: our curriculum is increasingly designed to return to core ideas and concepts across the 5 years; we have constructed our curriculum on the principle that memory is the residue of thought.
We want students to be able to live life to the full through: ·
- Developing their ability to question different writers’ viewpoints. This includes learning about the context and influences of the writers, understand key themes, make use of evidence, analyse language and recognise why different opinions exist. · Being inspired by a range of texts to value inclusivity and take responsibility, we want our students to stand up against social injustice and, in doing so, give hope to others.
- Understanding why people have different opinions to themselves. Engaging in respectful dialogue and debate with others, so that others feel included and to understand there is often a need to compromise.
- Developing an ability to articulate ideas confidently and clearly, support statements with evidence and make links and connections and form a persuasive argument, enabling them to achieve their best.
- Gaining knowledge, skills and qualifications that open opportunities in their future and enable students to achieve their best beyond their time at St Luke’s. This includes working hard and being able to organise their work and time.
We always have high expectations of all the students we teach, showing confidence and belief in their abilities, regardless of background. Our teachers skilfully tailor the learning for their own classes ensuring that students are supported and confident, perhaps going over skills that are not yet mastered, or introducing knowledge over time or reducing the load on the working memory. We deliberately teach varied cultural literacy aiming to ensure that all students, regardless of their backgrounds, increase their general knowledge to support vocabulary development and reading comprehension. We understand that basic literacy matters so have a sharp focus on reading and writing. Our students with SEND, or those who may be disadvantaged, are supported effectively in the classroom and the English department also leads robust literacy interventions where needed.
Our lessons and sequences of lessons utilise the St Luke’s learning structure to maximise student learning, increase levels of student independence and quickly address misconceptions. We use consistent resources, routines and teaching approaches to reduce cognitive load and minimise distraction from the core learning. We know that extended writing is often a challenge for students in this subject and across the school. As such, time is frequently incorporated for them to independently practise; this practice is carefully supported through the use of models, live-modelling and guided practice, aiming for high success rates to develop students’ confidence, but always adapting the teaching and approach if students are struggling. Influenced by research by the EEF, we develop students’ metacognition through a wide range of strategies and approaches including: explicit modelling, careful use of scaffolding, live-marking, feedback lessons and super-teaching week, breaking down questions and ensuring strategic use of mark schemes and exemplar materials to ensure students experience success in external qualifications.
At Key Stage 3 we build on the statutory requirements at KS2 that students should be able to read and write with sufficient fluency to manage the general demands of the curriculum. Most children will have been taught using the full range of punctuation and use and understand a wide range of grammatical terminology as referenced in the KS2 National Curriculum. Reading and writing with proficiency remains at the heart of what we do and we rigorously assess and intervene where needed through use of data from NGRT tests and ‘No More Marking’. This allows us to be cognisant of the starting points of our students and how our curriculum and tutor reading programmes are impacting reading and writing ages. With this data we are able to adapt the curriculum offer for groups of students and support through the use of software packages such as Lexia and Sparx Reader. The curriculum journey from year 7 is designed to develop students’ abilities to read critically and evaluatively, increasingly making links, connections and comparisons across a wide variety of texts, including whole novels, poetry, plays and non-fiction. A strong focus is placed on developing fine analysis of methods and developing clear, precise and nuanced expression through the use of tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary.
This is achieved through our six guiding principles:
- Readers are accountable: Students follow when the teacher reads; students read out loud; students are questioned for understanding.
- Writing is part of the process : Students complete regular extended writing tasks; teachers use live marking to ensure meaningful and impactful feedback; teachers use models to reinforce academic style; high level academic (tier 2) vocabulary embedded into schemes.
- Practice makes permanent: Schemes are built on a skills-first basis; skills are repeated multiple times in a cycle; skills are interleaved between modules; tasks are repeated if the skill is not displayed correctly
- Knowledge is not enough: Students are explicitly taught the expectations of a high performing academic culture; students are taught to break down what a question is actually asking; students are expected to reflect elements of models (on a ‘skills first’ basis) in their own work; teachers explicitly model the application of knowledge to a question.
- A rigorous and critical approach to texts: Students and teachers see challenge as an accepted part of the culture; teachers explicitly model academic register; teachers never rule out an idea because it is ‘too complicated’.
- Cultural literacy is king: Students are explicitly taught cultural literacy that allows them to engage in a text; teachers plan for opportunities to extend cultural literacy; social issues are explored throughout the curriculum – race, gender, class, social justice, etc.
The English Curriculum is supported and enriched by the tutor reading programme which provides a fantastic opportunity for students and teachers across the school to read whole texts for pleasure. The library also supports the focus on reading for pleasure and is used as an inclusive space for reading, study and developing students’ social skills. We use a number of online packages, have our own dedicated GCSE Revision website and our teachers contribute to the school’s enrichment offer with clubs and activities such as debating.
hen students leave St Luke’s, the English Curriculum will have enabled them to communicate with confidence and clarity in a variety of situations. They will have the cultural literacy and curiosity to question the world in which they live, having learnt about the experiences of others. We are proud of the positive progress of students in this subject and how they talk about their English lessons enthusiastically and we hope that an increasing number will go on to study English Language or Literature in further education.
St Luke’s is a wonderful place; is a school full of staff who are dedicated to improving the life chances of every student that attends the school.
Kealey Sherwood, Headteacher