Head of Faculty - Mr. T. Dearmer

Our Curriculum Intentions and The National Curriculum

St Martin’s School’s curriculum intentions for English are firmly based on the outcomes expected in the National Curriculum. Allied to these is a concern to prepare students for the practical requirements of current external examinations in English and to encourage further study and engagement in the subject beyond Key Stage 4.

The overarching aim for English in the National Curriculum and at St Martin’s School is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.

Our aim is that pupils will:

  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
  • appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage and understand a wide range of cultural, social and historical contexts and how these change
  • write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
  • use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
  • are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate
  • are encouraged, where appropriate, to study English beyond Key Stage 4
  • understand and are confident in the requirements and techniques of current external examinations for English and can apply these in formal contexts.

Our Curriculum Structure

Our curriculum is structured across the five years of main school (Key Stages 3 and 4) so as to ensure the National Curriculum requirements of content, both literary and non-literary, and development of skills in reading, writing and speaking and listening and knowledge about language are covered thoroughly. Key strands of learning and content (for example Shakespeare’s plays, pre-twentieth century literature, poetry, non-fiction reading and writing, different forms of creative writing and knowledge about writers’ and speakers’ methods) are returned to and developed at increasingly complex levels year-on-year as appropriate. We have thought carefully about the sequencing of our units of study with this notion of a “spiral” curriculum in mind.

Our schemes of work are set up in order to promote pupils’ enjoyment, learning, scholarship and pride in their work and to develop understanding of cultural capital. To these ends, for example, we include:

  • creative as well as analytical responses to reading
  • oral and written tasks
  • space for individual, independent, reading and personal choice
  • close exploration of our literary heritage and socio-cultural contexts and also a sense that literature is about drama, performance, empathy, engagement and entertainment
  • group, pair and individual methods of working
  • opportunities to revisit, amend and improve work
  • exploration of complex, challenging material and individual research and enquiry
  • use of materials which relate to students’ own lives in the twenty-first century
  • exploration of modern media communication
  • development of creativity and flair and writing for real audiences with real purposes.

We offer equality of experience and opportunity with students largely covering the same materials, texts and skills. Differentiation takes place within the classroom on a group and individual level. In Key Stage 4, all students follow a course which leads to certification in both GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature. GCSE Media Studies is also offered as an option at Key Stage 4.

We are also concerned to prepare pupils effectively for the requirements of formal external examination and our methods of internal assessment of progress are closely related to external examination requirements from an early age. At Key Stage 3 these are conducted with preparation and scaffolding to ensure pupils can fully access what will be, to them, unfamiliar modes of assessment. In years 9, 10 and 11, core assessments are sat half-termly and will usually be completed under examination conditions, using authentic examination materials of developing complexity. Students who require specific examination arrangements as indicated in individual SEN plans will receive this support in all formal internal assessments.

Those who wish to take their study of English beyond Key Stage 4 can choose to specialise in either A Level English Literature or A Level English Language (or both) and BTEC Media Studies is also offered. A considerable number of our students will eventually take their studies and work in English and its related areas even further into post-18 education and beyond.