The English Way
Our subject has a ‘Subject Way’ at the heart of it. Our Subject Way is designed to help students become young subject specialists. The Subject Way has two main purposes:
Firstly, to teach students the vital skills they need to achieve their full potential and gain the very best grades they can. Secondly, to teach students how each subject relates to the wider world, incorporating the life skills they will learn.
It is our belief that knowing how what you learn links to the wider world, brings a subject to life and therefore improves overall understanding and engagement.
At Wickersley Partnership Trust, we understand that getting the curriculum right for each and every individual student is the single most important factor in ensuring progress, encouraging positive engagement and raising aspirations.
At Wickersley Partnership Trust, we want all students to leave able and qualified to play their full part in an ever-changing world through an ambitious, creative and innovative curriculum, which empowers students with the skills, knowledge and attributes to allow them to succeed in their next phase of education and their working life.
Our curriculum is not driven by performance tables. It is our belief that a strong, broad, balanced curriculum, tailored to individual needs can remove barriers to learning and allow all students to access the curriculum appropriate to them and will therefore meet their individual needs.
At WPT, we believe that English should be more than just teaching to an exam. As a core subject, we realise the importance of the fundamental skills that English can offer our students as they learn to articulate their thoughts and ideas on important topics, through a breadth of reading, the written word and their spoken word.
At WPT, we aim to engender a love of learning, self-belief and aspiration through four key intentions:
- The removal of barriers to learning
- Developing skills for learning
- Developing personal attributes (School Way)
- Enriching student experiences and broadening their horizons
INTENTION 1 – The removal of barriers to learning
We want all of our students to go out into the world, and become successful, happy, fulfilled adults, who will be good citizens and make a positive contribution to society. The acquisition of basic skills is either at the heart of achieving this, or a barrier to learning and prevents students from fully flourishing. Four common barriers, if left unchallenged, will limit the progress, engagement and development of students who access our curriculum. They are:
We are astutely aware of the importance of these barriers within English as a subject. Naturally, literacy is at the heart of all English lessons. To access our curriculum, we endeavour to ensure all students are fluent at reading and writing through regular opportunities to develop these skills in every lesson. Throughout their learning journey, students will read a variety of text types including novels, plays, poems and extracts, alongside the opportunity to write for a variety of purposes. Students are taught to be strategic and critical readers when exploring high quality texts. They are taught to make predictions about texts; question key ideas to aid comprehension; and summarise to show understanding. We encourage reciprocal reading strategies to be used in lessons, and expect students to be engaged with and learn a range of ambitious vocabulary as part of their English lessons. We therefore teach ambitious vocabulary in an explicit way by learning set vocabulary for each scheme. Furthermore, we also build in regular opportunities for students to use the vocabulary they have learnt. An important aspect of this is using recall and retrieval to encourage students to revisit vocabulary they have already been taught. Through the teaching of these, students will be provided with the necessary support and scaffolding to ensure they build, develop and practise the literacy skills which are necessary not just for school and their exams, but for wider
We recognise the importance of numeracy across the curriculum, and ensure that there are activities in English which develop their skills of sequencing, organising information, interpreting data, and seeing the relationships between different concepts. For example, within English, students will often need to work on comparison skills and could utilise the Venn Diagram to organise this information. Similarly, when being introduced to new content or context, graphs, pie charts and statistics about different time periods are presented to students and the need to decipher this information relies heavily on their numeracy skills.
Another crucial aspect of our curriculum that we plan for carefully is oracy. We believe the ability to communicate effectively is imperative, and teachers support students to improve their communication skills, including their ability to listen. Students are taught the value of oracy roles and are encouraged in a range of different communication styles, including presentation and role play. Students are also given regular opportunities to speak in a presentational way, as well as being exploratory when discussing ideas and texts in lessons, working cohesively with the drama department to foster and develop these skills.
INTENTION 2 – Developing skills for learning
Developing student knowledge and essential learning skills go hand in hand. Students need to remember with fluency in order to be fully established mini-subject specialists. We strive, at all times, for personal excellence by developing the six key skills for success:
- Divergent thinking
At WPT, the English curriculum is ambitious and designed to inspire a love of reading. We believe that all students deserve the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills which allow them to read with confidence, write skilfully and become expert speakers. In order to do this, we select texts which are challenging for all and provide a rich knowledge base. We believe it is essential for students to read for both knowledge and pleasure. Every student reads a range of exceptional texts during their time at school, and these texts are used as a basis to improve students’ reading, writing and oracy skills.
Through these texts, our students develop rich knowledge of themes and concepts which are significant within the literary canon. To help our students develop these key skills, we embedded three core, driving concepts: Power, Relationships and Identity.
Each text and topic has been chosen to help explicitly build a rich knowledge base for one of these concepts which we feel is vital in developing our students in English and, importantly, for the wider world.
Each year, students will study new texts which build on one of these concepts whilst also retrieving previous knowledge through ‘flashback’ starters. Importantly, each new scheme also allows students to build on previous knowledge and aid their ability to analyse, evaluate and be divergent thinkers.
INTENTION 3 – Fostering personal attributes
Our English curriculum promotes the skills and attributes our students need in order to develop independence, responsibility, accountability and resilience, as well as becoming subject specialists. We refer to this crucial aspect of our curriculum intent as The English Way and it is embedded in everything we do.
The English Way enables us to develop well-rounded individuals ready for the next stage of life after school. It is about embedding employability skills such as resilience, collaboration, communication, aspiration, responsibility, tolerance and respect in order for them to be an active participant in the local community and beyond.
We are beginning to embed the English Way within our curriculum. We aim for it to be the language that we speak and key aspects of the English Way are as follows:
- We read for pleasure and explore new texts
- We adapt our writing style to meet the purpose
- We strive to be an expert in characters and theme
- We can scan text to quickly gain an overview
- We explore texts carefully and search for meanings and ideas
- We are imaginative and ambitious writers
- We express our ideas in a thoughtful and respectful way
- We communicate our ideas and listen to the ideas of others
- We consider the techniques writers have used and the effect they have on the reader
- We plan, proofread and edit our work carefully
- We strive to use sophisticated vocabulary in our writing
INTENTION 4 – Enriching student experiences and broadening their horizons
Our intent is that all students have a full understanding of how to develop themselves and we consider our text choices as being at the forefront and enriching students’ experiences. Students are immersed in texts regularly and routinely. Over their time with us, students will read several novels, poems and plays, all of which have been selected to ensure students get the chance to:
- Reflect on an important topic or theme
- Gain knowledge of canonical texts
- Participate in broad cultural conversations that texts often expose
- Empathise with characters from different cultures, time periods and positions to themselves
- Celebrate the rich literary heritage of Britain and different cultures
- Gain a sense of cultural capital on a wide variety of topics
- Explore theatre and performances through trips and visits
- Celebrate the importance and joy of reading through World Book Day
- Connections to other learning facilities in local areas, such as Grimm and Co.
Beyond this, we provide opportunities in our curriculum such as discussion, debate and evaluation which allow students to develop oracy skills and their ability to express themselves. This is especially evident in writing where we encourage students to have a voice in their writing and feel comfortable expressing their feelings, viewpoints and opinion through a range of text types or discussion.
Key Stage 3
Using KS2 results, students are placed in sets on entry to school. Students have three 80 minute English lessons each week. The topics studied build on previous skill sets and develop in difficulty, as we start with a review of primary skills and build up to GCSE and A Level. The department uses regular assessments and ‘sticker tasks’ to assess the understanding that students have developed and address any misconceptions, thus allowing us to plan their next steps and meet their needs more effectively. Each assessment will be followed by a bespoke intervention task for each student, allowing them to work on and improve in any areas they may struggled with.
We have three driving themes which students will study and return to each year: Power, Relationships and Identity. From Year 6 rollover into Y7 and Y8, students will study five different texts writing skills and produce descriptions, narratives, articles, speeches and poems. The text choices are:
- The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne
- My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher
- Noughts and Crosses (the play) by Malorie Blackman
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Across Y7 and Y8, students have one lesson of Drama incorporated into every sixth lesson of English. As a vital part of developing students’ oracy skills, Drama and English specialists work together to build these links across our joint curriculum. This includes developing role play to empathise with characters from the texts, and effective presentational talk.
From Y9, students will then move to three blocks of thirteen weeks of study. Alongside the reading of these texts, students will return to previous writing skills in addition to writing letters and travel writing.
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
- A Gothic Anthology of extracts including Edgar Allen Poe
- Othello by William Shakespeare
Key Stage 4
All students have four lessons of English per week leading towards their two GCSEs in English Language and English Literature (AQA). Students have regular topic tests and these, alongside homework, allow staff to check the ongoing understanding of the students. The use of mock exams in Y10 and Y11 allows students to be comfortable and confident in an examination setting, as well as helping them to target their revision more effectively.
The English Language qualification consists of two examinations which assess students’ reading and writing skills. Across the two examinations, students read and comment on fiction and non-fiction texts from a range of time periods. The skills of retrieval, inference, analysis, evaluation, synthesis and comparison are essential aspects of the course. Students are also required to use these texts as inspiration to write creatively. Students are asked to write for different purposes, such as writing to describe, narrative, argue and explain. Students are assessed on their ability to write for purpose, use language, structure their writing and be accurate.
The English Literature qualification also consists of two examinations, and students study texts across a range of genres. Our chosen texts are Macbeth by William Shakespeare; An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley; The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by R L Stevenson; and the Power and Conflict AQA poetry anthology. Students are therefore given the opportunity to read texts across different time periods and continue to learn about significant themes, some of which they have already encountered at Key Stage 3. Students learn to analyse writers’ methods, make interpretations, use evidence and link to wider ideas and concepts.
Head of Department
A St Pierre