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Curriculum Road Map: English
Curriculum Statement: English

Scope

The English Curriculum meets the requirements of the National Curriculum in English at Key Stage 3 and 4. We read a range of increasingly ambitious, complete texts in Key Stage 3, as well as key extracts of longer novels, e.g. in our Year 8 Mid-Victorian unit, students will read the whole of Goblin Market and extracts from Jane Eyre, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield; in Year 9, we read the whole of The Doll’s House by Katherine Mansfield, and extracts of Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and DH Lawrence, and the whole of Of Mice and Men, with extracts of The Grapes of Wrath. We link writing to reading, and students write creatively as well as analytically. 

  

At Key Stage 4, we cover Language knowledge and skills through sharing and analysing a range of high quality fiction and non-fiction, in preparation for reading elements of the GCSE. We go further than just text books and past papers, although we use both regularly. We share ambitious, complete short stories with students during Year 11, including stories by Graham Swift and Sylvia Plath, with the aim of developing the scope and ambition of students’ own writing, as well as teaching the craft of structure, character and dialogue. Literature is delivered through key exam texts – A Christmas Carol; Anthology Poetry; An Inspector Calls; Romeo and Juliet. 

  

Every child in the school takes English, and our subject uptake is growing along with our school. Success in English contributes to success in every other subject: e.g. our contribution to the Elements Curriculum gives students the chance to develop their drafting skills through the Single Paragraph Outline (from The Writing Revolution). We use Elements lessons in the Autumn Term in every year at Key Stage 3 to develop students’ skills in framing their ideas at whole text, paragraph and sentence level.  Our Elements lessons also provide an opportunity to develop reading skills and exposure to texts that might ordinarily lie outside of our usual coverage.   

  

Our curriculum is ambitious, both in the things we ask students to think about and in the way we ask them to think. We teach and embed abstract thought from Year 7 onwards, we ask children to make complex connections between texts and contexts and we teach big ideas, such as the Pastoral and The Gothic, linked to a deep understanding of where they have come from within our wider culture and how they are connected with where we are now. We offer opportunities to reread and refer back to previous texts, e.g. Epic Narrative Poetry in Autumn Year 8 (Goblin Market -Rossetti) picks up themes and structures from Summer Year 7 (Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Coleridge).  The performance of key cohorts in both Key Stage 3 and 4 is a priority for us, ensuring that no student in our care is disadvantaged.  The end point of curriculum, as with the school, is to interrupt the patterns and cycles of social disadvantage for our young learners through increased exposure to rich text and by addressing the lack of experiences that a student might have in order to bring learning to life across subject areas, as is the aim of our UCS Unlocks programme.  We provide bespoke interventions - both in class and during our Period 7 intervention cycle - to address any known gaps or misconceptions, with a laser-sharp focus on key group performances following historical progress analysis,

Coherence

We have designed our curriculum to be linked through deep structures and to build a cumulative and knowledge-rich schemata for students to rely on as they add to their experience and understanding in the subject. We start with Myths and Sacred Stories, which runs parallel to a class novel, Liar and Spy. In Myths, we cover the Greeks along with the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Man, which provides a very firm foundation for story structure and symbolism in most of the Western literature that follows it. Liar and Spy has been chosen as our first ‘class reader’ because it is thrilling and students really love it – we are very keen to avoid a Year 7 experience that looks like a university reading list; we don’t think that is the definition of ‘ambition’ – but also this novel provides an example of highly structured ‘monomyth’ in action, and students who have learnt this structure in ‘Myths’ can identify it in the wild. 

  

We move chronologically, through Shakespeare, where we fit in a lot of context as we visit A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Year 7. We will revisit Shakespeare in Year 8, where we will consider gender roles in Macbeth. Previously, when children landed with us in Year 10 from other Key Stage 3 settings, they often thought that Shakespeare and Dickens were contemporaries. Our Key Stage 3 cohort will have a very clear idea of these key GCSE writers, their preoccupations and themes, and the contexts in which they were writing. 

  

In Year 9, under the umbrella of Modernism, we look at WW1 and a range of poetry that is not covered in the GCSE Anthology – so that our students have a really strong understanding of Wilfred Owen, for example, before they study him at GCSE. Similarly, they will study Detectives of the 1930s, so that when they see the structure and tropes of the genre used and subverted in An Inspector Calls, they will understand what the writer is working with and how the play would have been received by its post-war audience. Our reading (and by-heart learning) of Wordsworth’s Daffodils in Year 7 allows for a sophisticated understanding of Blake’s London at GCSE as an anti-pastoral text. 

  

In this way, we have planned in such a way that we may constantly refer back, to recently learnt knowledge and to learning from further back. The ‘monomyth’ work that we do in Year 7, term 1, will continue to inform students’ responses to texts into Year 11 and (we believe) throughout their lives. 

Curriculum Sequence

Our chronological curriculum at Key Stage 3 builds towards the deep knowledge that students will use to succeed at GCSE. We teach key facts and concepts in each year that are revisited and built upon in subsequent years, e.g. Gothic in Year 7 (Coleridge; Pullman’s play script of Frankenstein) is expanded when, in Year 8, they meet Gothic Mid-Victorians (Jane Eyre; Goblin Market) and Gothic Fin-de-Siècle authors (RL Stevenson, Bram Stoker) and in Year 10 (Dickens). 

  

Within topics, we develop students’ schemata through extracts of texts, film and documentary and non-fiction contextual reading. Learning about the Mid-Victorians involves learning about local history and architecture, the Industrial Revolution, Ragged Schools and the Workhouse, Empire and Slavery, the impact of the American Civil War on Bolton’s cotton industry, the Crimean War and the role of middle class women.  This work is sequenced to build on the practice, experiences and learning in Humanities.  We Introduce systematic comparison work in Year 8 and in this term we compare primary and secondary sources, compare the tone of a scene of Oliver! (1968)  to the same scene in the original Dickens’ novel, read contemporary diaries alongside extracts from classic literary texts and watch two whole films that link to both our Mid-Victorian and our Bildungsroman units, covered in the same term (Jane Eyre and David Copperfield). By Christmas of Year 8, our students have a robust and deep understanding of this period. 

  

Our higher achieving students have opportunities to study the shift in narrative style between the middle and the end of the Victorian period, linked to wider cultural issues – e.g. how elements of The Gothic, e.g. ‘the double’, prefigure psychoanalysis and the ‘discovery’ of the unconscious, how Dracula links to anxieties around Empire.

Rigour

Our curriculum is rich in substantive knowledge at every stage, and we ensure its consistent and effective delivery through shared, collaborative planning that makes this explicit in our schemes and individual lessons. We support the language skills and knowledge that students will need in order to be confident scholars through shared glossaries, spelling and vocabulary inc archaic vocabulary. In this way, students can build a rich and deep understanding of e.g. the condition of the poor in Victorian England, through several cumulative encounters with relevant texts in Year 8, and then encounter this again at GCSE, where it will form an important plank of their response to A Christmas Carol. 

  

Explicit teaching and learning of writing organisation is taught in Year 7 and revisited regularly over the whole five years – from sentence to paragraph to whole text level. This is reinforced through whole class feedback and regular opportunities to see, evaluate and improve real responses from others, along with their own. 

From Year 7, we teach young people clear and accessible structures that they can use to respond to texts and to formulate their own ideas. 

E.g. we teach students to respond to texts using the PEEL framework, with a focus on texts as constructs; we teach the SPO (Single Paragraph Outline from the Writing Revolution) to support longer drafted responses; we teach frameworks for writing developed and analytical responses (SMILE – Structure, Message, Imagery, Language and Emotion). 

  

Within our broad half-termly categories, we decide what to teach through collaboration and discussion, including discussion with History and Elements. E.G. In Year 8 Spring, we teach  “Macbeth + The Gothic + The Speckled Band”. Every teacher meets and works in a pair to populate the weekly plan, in the area they have interest in and/or will be teaching. After this meeting, we have a shared understanding of the knowledge and skills that we will be teaching in each section, how many lessons, and how we will assess the term. THEN, we go off and prepare adaptable materials, including PowerPoints AND longer, more challenging texts, so that students encounter more opportunities for sustained reading. 

  

We check that students have learnt what we want them to have learnt, both in substantive and disciplinary knowledge, through regular low-stakes and no-stakes testing, including weekly workouts and exit tickets, and by reading their writing in their books. We offer whole-class feedback and adequate time for green pen opportunities, and we spent time together sharing, ranking and justifying our judgements about real examples of good work.

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Memory

The crucial elements of the five year course, which are taught and revisited in every year, with guided student practice, are: 

  

Oracy – using talk in formal and informal settings, to frame and extend thought, rehearse academic responses, listen and respond to others; 

Text organisation and punctuation, inc. how to write a sentence, a paragraph and a whole text; 

Planning and drafting; 

  • How language, form and structure match content, audience and purpose in students’ own writing and in set texts; 

  • How literary devices work; 

  • How to read for explicit and implicit meaning; 

  • How to support opinions and interpretations with evidence and examples. 

  • How to synthesise and compare elements of texts. 

  

The crucial tentpoles of knowledge that are taught at key points in Key Stage 3, revisited regularly (with consideration for the forgetting curve) and that inform study at Key Stage 4 are: 

  

  • How stories work; 

  • Conventions of generic texts, e.g. detective fiction; 

  • Deep knowledge of the contexts of key texts, e.g. the historical context of WW!; 

  • A deep understanding of how traditions in literature influence a wide and ambitious range of texts, particularly in the Gothic and Pastoral traditions; 

  • Shakespeare in context; 

  • Persuasive devices and effective public speaking. 

  

At Key Stage 3, we interleave key knowledge through new texts, e.g. the study of poetic literary devices through Rime of The Ancient Mariner in Year 7, Goblin Market in Year 8 and War Poetry in Year 9. 

  

At Key Stage 4, we interleave the study of GCSE texts through Mastery sessions and Weekly Workouts, revisiting texts for short and low-stakes assessment to support students’ learning and independent revision and to address gaps and misconceptions. 

  

Our planning is designed to give students many and varied opportunities to revisit and demonstrate what they know and understand, through careful questioning, paired tasks and engagement structures such as Kagan. We also build in glossaries and vocabulary lists at every point, to allow students to access texts fully and to begin to use this vocabulary in their own work. 

  

Formative assessment takes place within lessons, through short tasks with verbal and written feedback, and through Whole Class Marking, where we address key misconceptions and mistakes and demonstrate examples of successful responses, while allowing appropriate time for students to address improvements and corrections in their own work.  Students also complete diagnostics to identify gaps and misconceptions using the Century Tech platform.  This artificial intelligence platform then identifies learning activities to address the individual's needs - real personalised learning

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English is crucial for students’ engagement with the world of higher education and work, no matter which path they take, and the English Department supports students’ next steps by: 

  

  • Teaching students powerful cultural knowledge about their local area, their society and the world, from Year 7 onwards, and requiring them to think creatively and analytically about their lives, their neighbourhoods and the wider world; 

  • Supporting students in their learning and literacy across subjects through our support of reading, our systematic teaching of communication skills, inc. presentation skills, and exam skills at all Key Stages, inc. decoding and text-marking; 

  • Supporting students as they apply to university and apprenticeships, through Personal Statement support. 

The department is working with our engaged employers to ensure that we bring our curriculum provision to life with meaningful links to work-placed applications of learning, small group mentoring and the development of experiences for the UCS Unlocks programme that are directly linked to our curriculum pathway. 

Pedagogy

We strive for adaptive teaching that expects and enables high quality work from all our students. We adapt materials through a range of strategies, inc. planned questioning, support for Tier 2 and 3 vocabulary through systematic use of glossaries and writing frames, mnemonics that help all students to write in a detailed and structured way about challenging texts. 

We use challenge tasks to offer extended practice and deep learning at every stage of our planning. Added to this, our planning is shared an QA-ed by Head of Department, to ensure that not only our texts are challenging but also that our tasks facilitate creative, evaluative and analytical thinking, based on a firm and confident foundation of knowledge.  There is an awareness of working knowledge and students who may require additional support managing complex concepts (through an identified SEND need) as well as when supporting students with levels of spoken English that are significantly below age-related expectations (for example, International New Arrivals) who may require significant phonological development. 

We incorporate TLaC (Teach Like A Champion (Lemov, 2021)) strategies to develop engagement; we give students opportunities to read whole texts and extended extracts throughout their UCS career – although we share our planning via PowerPoint, we do not restrict students’ reading to slides.  Our students have lots and lots of writing practice, with opportunities through whole class feedback to develop their accuracy, fluency and ambition. There are opportunities in every lesson for students to talk and listen to each other, to extend their responses and frame their ideas verbally.  Consistency is tracked and measured through whole school learning walks and book looks. 

Assessment

We assess students in short, low-stakes tests and quizzes, short practice questions and paragraphs that support students in the consolidation of their knowledge and identify misconceptions that can be addressed very quickly by the classroom teacher. 

  

Summative assessments take place at or close to the end of units of study. In Key Stage 3, we assess with the school attainment statements linked to a range of skills in English, which allow us to identify strands of achievement within the wider judgement and therefore identify gaps; in Key Stage 4, we use a combination of QLA – giving student the opportunity to see where they may improve in every question, with specific, mark-scheme based criteria that is shared, and SIR forms. 

  

In every stage, students are expected to respond to feedback with a substantial amount of thought and effort. This is the evidence base for conversations with students – particularly those who are not making expected progress.  Students are strategically identified for Period 7 intervention primarily using summative assessments, but they may also be invited following formative assessment processes.  Impact is measured in subsequent assessments and by using formative assessments during the intervention itself. 

  

We collect data termly and Head of Department analyses this, identifies students who require intervention and liaises with Head of Department in Maths to decide on our priority interventions. This term, we have prioritised Year 11 and Year 8 for Fast Track support during Period 7, and INA/EAL students from all years, with an emphasis on reading skills for the former groups and social and conversational skills for the latter.

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Culture

We have a department of English specialists, who are extremely hard-working and dedicated in their planning, delivery and assessment practices. 

We have chosen a range of enriching and exciting texts and tasks, with due attention to the enthusiasms and expertise of our staff, and we have shared our planning accordingly. Therefore, we have a curriculum that is collaboratively planned and that teachers can adapt easily for their classes and for students within their classes. 

We have high expectations of students and, when those are not met, we talk to parents and carers to get our students back on track as quickly as possible. We have used Department Reports this term for some Year 8 and Year 10 students, to support better effort and behaviour for learning.  The department also operate a strategically targeted intervention twice weekly.  Students are identified for intervention using formative assessment which is discussed on a weekly basis with SLT and the Head of Maths using our English-Maths Crossover meeting.  A termly extra-curricular offer is also provided by the department to inspire and engage students.   

We enrich students’ experience of our subject and contribute to whole school priorities through: 

  

Period 7 Fast Track groups at Key Stage 3; 

  • Three Whole School Themes of the Week per Year, inc. events for World Book Day and assemblies; 

  • Library Visits at Key Stage 3; 

  • Use of the Library area in school – we have had the benefit of a volunteer professional librarian in setting up our library area; 

  • Support for Key Stage 5 Personal Statements; 

  • Theatre Trips – pre-Covid, we ran one trip at least per term; 

  • Visits from Bolton Octagon; 

Systems

The Head of Department evaluates the department through the Dept. SEF, which feeds into the whole school SEF process.

Communication in the department is consistent and purposeful since the implementation of our ring-fencing weekly meeting.  In addition to this, there is formal and informal meeting time between colleagues and Head of Department to support individual and departmental growth.  Colleagues participate in subject CPD within our own department (moderation of marking; behaviour strategies) and externally (Eduqas Training for teachers who are new to the spec.). All new staff complete a school induction programme.

Head of Department is a member of Bolton Hub – which made a material difference to our response to TAGs in Summer 21, allowing us to work with other Bolton Eduqas schools and have our portfolios moderated) and has participated in Quest Primary Literacy moderation meetings via Teams, to inform our Year 7 planning. 

  

We work within our school to develop our department practice in line with whole school teaching and learning priorities, e.g. Triads.  The department also work collaboratively with the SLE network and are part of key groups, hubs and online forums to ensure that we are kept abreast of the most recent and impactful research to inform our practice. 

Policy

Our planning allows for the logical and effective splitting of classes where this is necessary, maximising the opportunities for staff to deliver on a specialism or passion, which we believe enhances our provision. 

 

Our marking and feedback is a mixture of formal written feedback and Whole Class feedback, where students can expect to have verbal responses and the opportunity to learn and improve on one or two key issues from across the class. We understand that ‘over-learning’ thinks like punctuation rules and topic sentences can lead to automaticity in more able students. 

  

We use Showbie on student 1:1 iPads consistently across the department and we benefit from students’ engagement with the 'Century Tech' digital platform. This forms a plank of our students’ independent learning in English. We also use homework to allow students to learn, revise and prepare, for flipped learning and for extended creative tasks. In Key Stage 4, we offer additional opportunities for students to respond independently to whole exam papers at home, after guided or modelled practice in class.