Head of Faculty - Mr T Dearmer

Curriculum Intent, Implementation and Impact in English


Introduction to subject

In order to deliver our curriculum intentions for English at St Martin’s, students will study a wide range of literary, non-literary and media texts of increasing complexity and challenge over the 5 years of main school.  The texts we study will develop skills of comprehension, analysis and criticism and develop our students’ sense of cultural capital and literary heritage while creating opportunities to explore British values.  By employing an interactive, dramatic and celebratory approach to literature, language and media texts, we hope to instil an appreciation and enjoyment of all aspects of our subject, particularly reading. Our intention is that this will last for life and, in some, encourage further study at Key Stage 5 and beyond.  Students will be taught to write for different purposes - creative, analytical, discursive and transactional - and to write with technical accuracy and flair for imagined and real audiences.  Speaking and listening skills will be taught through the range of strategies adopted in the classroom and in tasks aimed at developing the ability to speak with confidence and clarity using Standard English as appropriate.  Our formative and summative methods of assessment will prepare students for the requirements of external examinations at the end of Key Stage 4.

Why is the study of English important?

It is important that we develop our skills in English and our knowledge of the English language and its literature because these will play a hugely significant role in every aspect of our lives at school and as adults in the workplace and beyond.  Practical literacy is essential in accessing the opportunities available to us as we go through our lives and, at a higher level, skills of literacy, critical reading and thinking and communication enable us to live culturally fulfilled, well-informed and economically active, successful lives.  English is a world language and proficiency in its grammar and vocabulary prepares us all for the roles we may take up in the world beyond the UK.  Studying the literature of English from a range of historical, social and regional/cultural contexts provides us with the cultural capital to understand our own place in the world and to empathise with the experiences of others.  At its most accomplished, the study of our finest literature challenges us with its complexity and ambiguities and, in doing so, enables us to explore universal human concerns as others have before us.  It is an art form which can put us in touch with our emotional, spiritual and moral selves, inspiring us to be creative, thoughtful and independent of mind in our own lives and interactions. 

How does the study of English develop your skills, knowledge and understanding?

In English students will develop the ability to write accurately and effectively for a range of contexts and purposes: transactional, discursive and creative.  They will learn how to read straightforward and complex texts which are literary, non-literary or multi-media in order to develop skills of retrieval, inference, comparison, evaluation and critical analysis.  Students will learn a literary and linguistic vocabulary to enable them to understand and analyse writers’ methods and how texts work.  The reading and study of accomplished writers from a range of contexts and cultures will strengthen students’ own writing and broaden their vocabulary for use in other contexts.  They will develop cultural capital and understanding of their own and others’ heritages.  Students will learn how to communicate orally in a range of contexts and to listen effectively and respond in formal and informal situations.  They will learn skills of scholarship and close, well-informed reading and study.  An accomplished knowledge of the English language, and the skills to use it effectively, builds confidence, creativity and independence.

How are students assessed in English?

Assessment of pupil understanding and progress in English is an ongoing process, informal and formal.  Students’ understanding in lessons will be monitored by questioning for understanding, monitoring of talk, written work and plenary activities.  Analysis of longer pieces of written classwork and homework will also build to an overall assessment of an individual’s progress across Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4.  We are concerned to prepare students effectively for the requirements of external examinations and our more formal methods of internal assessment are closely related to external examination requirements from an early age.  In year 7 a baseline assessment is undertaken in the first weeks of the Autumn term by all students against which future progress can be monitored.  Subsequently in Key Stage 3 core assessments are undertaken on an approximately half-termly basis.  These will be conducted with preparation and scaffolding to ensure students 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.  Formal “end-of-year” examinations in English are taken by all year groups which provide a summative assessment of yearly progress.  Student progress throughout both key stages is recorded in terms of equivalent GCSE grades from “working towards” grade 1 through to grade 9.  Students who require specific examination arrangements as indicated in individual SEN plans will receive this support in all formal internal assessments.        

What does the curriculum plan for English look like?

Our curriculum is structured across the five years of main school (Key Stages 3 and 4) to ensure the National Curriculum requirements of content, both literary and non-literary, and development of skills in knowledge about language, reading, writing and speaking and listening 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.  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 AQA GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature.  AQA GCSE Media Studies is also offered as an option at Key Stage 4.  For students to develop their work and interest in English beyond Key Stage 4, we offer Edexcel A-level English Literature, Edexcel A-level English Language and AQA A-level Media Studies.

How does English support learning in other areas of the curriculum?

Reading and writing skills developed in English lessons are essential in enabling students to gain access to, and succeed in, all other areas of the curriculum.  Expressing knowledge, ideas and understanding in a structured, accurate and clear manner in writing is required in all subjects.  A broad general vocabulary and versatility with sentence structure is central to effective communication in all subjects.  Reading comprehension and critical reading form an integral part of the learning and assessment strategies employed across the curriculum.  Further to these generic benefits, the topics studied in the English curriculum are highly supportive of many other specific areas of the curriculum, notably art, drama, history, geography, PSHE, religious studies and modern foreign languages.

How can students extend and deepen their knowledge in English?

Wider, independent reading of all kinds of texts with a view to developing challenge and breadth will always be integral to students’ learning of the higher skills in writing, reading and oral communication.  Through wider reading, students can gain a broad and elastic vocabulary, technical accuracy, verbal and syntactical dexterity, informed critical and evaluative skills and creativity.  The school encourages DEAR time in all year groups partly to this end but a student’s own independent reading outside of school is just as important.  Active reading of all texts, from the most complex to the seemingly straightforward – including literary, non-literary, transactional and media texts - will help students improve the breadth and quality of their own writing.  Research into the socio-cultural contexts of literature, reading critical works – ie. “books about books” - and reading parallel texts will deepen students’ understanding of the texts we study in class.  Independent use of freely available online materials for support of our English syllabuses will always be useful in supporting students’ learning and progress and development of a broad critical-technical vocabulary will help students achieve excellence in description and analysis of texts and also in their own compositions.  As well as this, in writing, careful planning, drafting, re-drafting and editing of written pieces with a focus on writing as a conscious craft at word, sentence and text level will enable students to achieve at the highest levels.  Taking a full and reflective part in class activities, including discussion and presentation, builds students’ confidence and the ability to communicate complex abstract ideas orally. 

How does English link to the world of work?  

Good skills in English are required in most areas of the world of work, whether it be in communicating with the public, working and communicating as part of a team, writing accurately and appropriately for transactional purposes, using retrieval and inference in order to synthesise, summarise and present important information or employing creativity and inventiveness in leading change and innovation.  High levels of achievement in English are widely sought-after in the world of work generally as marks of creativity, accuracy, intellect and flair, and further qualifications (at Key Stage 5 or degree level) in English Literature, English Language or Media Studies are universally respected indications of academic achievement by the professional world.  Often young people who have succeeded in English and English related studies go on to find success in fields such as law, education, banking, accountancy, the media (including journalism), advertising and public relations, human resources and administration.

How does English link to the three strands of our core values?
Traditional Values
Learning for the Future
Outstanding Personal Achievement

-  By providing opportunities to revisit, amend and improve work and a focus on knowledge about language, technical accuracy and presentation

-  Through close exploration of our literary and socio-cultural heritage in the study of works from the canon of English literature and by developing students’ cultural capital.

-  By using materials which relate to students’ own lives in the twenty-first century

-  Through development of creativity and flair and writing for real audiences with real purpose

-  By employing oral and written tasks and group, pair and individual methods of working

-  Through exploration of modern media communication

-  Through creative as well as analytical responses to reading

-  By developing independence, versatility, resilience, team-work and empathy through the range of learning strategies employed; the level of challenge offered; and by exploring the human, moral issues at play in the materials we use.

-  By offering all students access to similarly challenging materials and through high expectations of academic endeavour in both English literature and English language

-  By preparing students rigorously and consistently for external examinations

-  By promoting scholarship and interest through exploration of complex, intriguing, challenging material and individual research and enquiry

-  By allowing space for individual, independent, reading and personal choice

-  By offering academic and practical options for further study beyond Key Stage 4 and encouraging take-up of English related courses and training in higher education and the wider adult world.