Curriculum Road Map: English
Curriculum Statement: English
To provide an enriching and accessible curriculum that encompasses a love of reading and develops empathetic and understanding students through the exploration of wider world issues and life lessons.
The English curriculum offer explores a diverse range of content which looks to embed key skills from KS3 to promote students’ development towards mastery as they progress to KS4. As well as this, it is our mission to support individuals in leading a well-rounded life beyond the classroom whereby they have had exposure to a broad curriculum of incorporating a variety of cultures, religions, concepts and literary texts across all schemes of work. This will enable students to utilise their cultural awareness in informed discussions both in an academic and non-academic environment.
English at KS3 is designed to comply with the National Curriculum framework and support students in becoming active and engaged learners that have a love of reading, opportunities for discussion and debate as well as promoting creativity. This is achieved through the sequential KS3 units whereby students study a plethora of fictional and nonfictional texts, two Shakespeare plays and a range of poetry that will support their journey towards mastery as they progress through secondary education.
The English curriculum at KS4 builds upon the knowledge and skills taught on students’ KS3 journey to maximise their chances of achieving mastery of not only academic success but in equipping students with ample life skills for their future post-16. The curriculum has been tailored to fit the AQA specification, whereby students are taught English language and English literature as separate subjects to ensure that skills are explicitly embedded into students’ exam practice, yet schematic links in knowledge and content are consistently made across both subjects to promote exam success and support students’ future prospects.
Within the English department, curriculum planning and development focuses on three key areas: disciplinary, substantive and semantic knowledge; these components of learning underpin all units of work across KS3 and KS4 to facilitate students’ personal and academic development.
As part of the 5-year curriculum plan in English, all aspects of the three key areas are explored thematically and conceptually at KS3, which then provides the foundation of disciplinary, substantive and semantic knowledge that students need to acquire in order to achieve mastery at KS4.
One unit of work is delivered per term across KS3 and KS4 in order to provide students with an enriching and holistic curriculum offer that covers an entire text or theme and makes judicious connections to wider world issues, life lessons and a broad range of pedagogical strategies. This also enables ample time to be dedicated to building students’ long-term retention through recall strategies used on a regular basis.
For KS3, this approach to curriculum design provides challenging, yet scaffolded, measures that will prepare students for their transition into KS4 by developing their disciplinary, substantive and semantic knowledge.
In KS4, the termly structure of the units allows for the breadth and detail required by the AQA specification to be delivered and quality first teaching is guaranteed. To further emphasise this, the English language and literature units that are delivered simultaneously contains substantive knowledge that compliment each other to help solidify students’ schemas.
The English curriculum roadmap serves as a pathway to not only students’ academic success but also their personal growth and development as well-rounded individuals.
At KS3, students are introduced to writing for different purposes. Students also begin to develop their analytical skills whilst carefully being transitioned from KS2 to secondary education. The class reads that have been selected to study in years 7, 8 and 9 are set to provides students with appropriate challenge due to stretching them to work both within and beyond their zone of proximal development. Albeit reading and writing skills are emphasised at KS3, the English curriculum offer at UCS also complies with the national curriculum framework whereby there is coverage of two Shakespeare plays and ample opportunities for speaking and listening are carefully embedded into units of work. In order to embark students on their journey towards mastery, the curriculum is also sequenced to gradually expose them to a multitude of models, systems and strategies that are consistent across all units of work from years 7-11. Thematically, the English curriculum offer at KS3 makes judicious schematic links to not only later units that are studied in the KS4 English curriculum but also, cross-curricular links to subjects including, but not restricted to, RE, History and Psychology.
At KS4, the sequencing of the curriculum aims to build on students’ existing schema that they acquired at KS3, whilst continuing their journey towards mastery by developing high level responses that are underpinned by the models, systems and strategies they have been using regularly since KS3.
The English curriculum offer at KS4 is also sequenced to comply with the AQA specification and national curriculum framework, whereby full coverage is guaranteed through English language and English literature being taught as separate subjects. The units of work that are delivered simultaneously in English language and English literature are thematically intertwined to facilitate schematic knowledge and the same models, systems and strategies are embedded throughout both subjects to ensure consistency and quality of written and verbal work. Moreover, all students in year 10 undertake the speaking and listening endorsement that is required by AQA and conforms to the national curriculum specification of teaching speaking and listening within English lessons.
In English, the department utilises the science of learning through a curriculum that is underpinned by higher order thinking questions, metacognition and developing oracy skills. All of these aspects are threaded throughout all units of work from the beginning of KS3 to the end of KS4 with the aim of promoting excellence and mastery on a holistic level.
Disciplinary knowledge is explicitly delivered using the same structures across all year groups. For instance, inference skills are taught using metacognitive strategies that centre around the Magenta principles and Rosenshine’s theory to promote active learning that will, in turn, lead to maximum progress. Additionally, developing students’ writing ability is inspired by using style models, particularly focused on using Benjamin Franklin’s Deconstruct, Reconstruct, Master framework. Again, this approach is introduced in year 7 with the intentions of working students towards mastery as they progress to KS4. Students’ oracy is also widely promoted across the English curriculum: discussions and debates are delivered through ‘structured talk’ and class discussions are facilitated by students proposing their own questions using the 5Ws and 1H.
Substantive and semantic knowledge is also explicitly taught using some of the same structures. For example, tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary is explored using metacognition and higher order thinking whereby students are consistently active in their learning as opposed to passively receiving the information.
Consistency within the English department is crucial to ensuring that students are receiving a high-quality curriculum offer. Therefore, there is a collaborative approach to curriculum design whereby all staff are delivering the same lesson content that uses the same structures – it is then the class teacher’s responsibility to adapt lessons accordingly to meet the needs of their students. It is important to note that the content that is delivered to students is quality assured by referring to unit plans that consist of non-negotiable disciplinary, substantive and semantic knowledge that must be taught within a particular unit. Further quality assurance of lessons is also undertaken with staff going ‘on tour’ each week to observe other class teachers within the department on a specific focus that has been agreed on as a team.
Assessing student progress also undertakes a consistent approach across the department: formative assessments are conducted every lesson to gauge student understanding and progress which will then enable teachers to be adaptive and responsive in the following lessons. Furthermore, pre-teaching vocabulary before assigning students with a vocabulary test is another measure of formative assessment that is used in the department which serves the purpose of closing the vocabulary gap of our students as well as promoting adaptive and responsive teaching.
Close attention is paid to the quality of students’ work; students are expected to complete all written work in their exercise books, with some aspects of the lesson utilising digital platforms on iPads. Any extended, independent, written work is expected to be uploaded onto Showbie for teachers to access and provide feedback in a timely manner.
Ensuring that students are well-equipped for not only their GCSE examinations but having a wealth of knowledge that they remember long after they leave education is a priority in English whereby various strategies to promote memory and retention are undertaken.
Across both KS3 and KS4, quality first teaching is provided to students through the consistent use of Do Nows every lesson; this is an opportunity for the class teacher to build the retention and recall of our students by tailoring the Do Nows towards addressing misconceptions or recapping prior learning.
Schemes of work across both KS3 and KS4 also incorporates dual coding in all units to support students’ language acquisition and to also facilitate them in storing new information into their long-term memory.
In order to manage students’ cognitive load and minimise overload, the English curriculum has been judiciously designed to make thematic links across KS3 and KS4. By introducing concepts such as communism, capitalism and poverty in KS3, they are then able to develop this existing schema in KS4 and work towards mastery.
In year 7 and 8, students are part of a memory and mastery curriculum. This is delivered by the English department once a week and centres around the explicit teaching of mental models and structures that are used across the English curriculum. The purpose of memory and mastery is to support students in the metacognitive processes that are required to learn and retain new information.
At UCS, the English department actively promotes employer engagement and this is embedded both implicitly and explicitly throughout the curriculum. Across all year groups, students have the opportunity to engage with external and internal stakeholders through undergoing a variety of educational experiences such as visiting the theatre and working with authors. Furthermore, at KS4, year 10 are taught a careers unit which works towards them producing a CV and personal statement that they can use to support their future prospects with employment and further education after they leave year 11.
Pedagogy in English is and continues to be progressive and highly inspired by research-informed practice. Schemes of work are designed to challenge students through the choice of texts and pedagogical methods implemented. However, all schemes of work meet the needs of students through careful adaptation whereby all students receive the same curriculum offer, however, it is accessible for all through the use of scaffolding and consistent recall and retention strategies to prevent cognitive overload and promote student progress.
As already outlined, teachers use a plethora of higher order thinking strategies to promote active learning and this also sets an appropriate level of challenge for our students.
All English staff work collaboratively in producing schemes of work and lesson planning, whereby ongoing quality assurance takes place to ensure that every lesson provides students with the best possible diet for their English lessons. This consistency is ensured by staff conducting a weekly ‘on tour’ of another English lesson and checking that the lesson provides breadth/depth to their learning and sets students on a journey towards mastery. Schemes of work are then adapted and updated accordingly.
The English department utilises both formative and summative assessments to monitor students’ progress throughout the academic year. This is one of the most fundamental ways in which teachers can tailor and adapt lessons to meet the needs of individual students and implement appropriate Wave 1, 2 and 3 interventions when necessary.
In KS3, students complete two diagnostic tests and two summative assessments per term. This provides ample data that will indicate any whole class misconceptions that need to be addressed as well as specific gaps in knowledge from individuals. This enables for appropriate intervention to be implemented for pupils in order to maximise their progress. In KS4, students complete two diagnostic tests and two summative assessments each for English Language and English Literature per term. Each assessment within KS4 addresses three types of knowledge: factual, conceptual and procedural. This helps to determine which aspects of the unit have been the most successful in producing student outcomes and the areas in which intervention needs to take place.
Students across both KS3 and KS4 undertake formative assessment every lesson through ‘Do Nows’ and ‘Exit Tickets’; students are also assessed weekly on vocabulary and are expected to revise the spellings and definitions of set word lists each week. As a department, we strive towards closing the vocabulary gap of our students and ensuring that they progress through school with a breadth of tier 2 vocabulary that they can apply not only in their studies but also in their everyday lives.
All data from diagnostic and summative assessments as well as formative, vocabulary assessments are stored in a ‘master tracker’, whereby data can be analysed and patterns of student performance over time can be measured.
English provides an inspiring curriculum that has a significant breadth and depth of content that draws upon different subject areas and wider societal issues whilst being underpinned by English skills and knowledge. Having such a broad curriculum offer aims to motivate and engage students through exploring relatable and stimulating topics as opposed to teaching English as a fixed, bolt-on subject.
In order to combat disengagement and lack of effort, the English curriculum works towards promoting autonomy for students whereby they have a level of choice in their learning, yet still meet the objectives of what they need to have learned within a unit. Students are also able to express themselves in a safe and open environment as the English curriculum incorporates a vast number of oracy-based activities that promote discussion and debate.
Staff within the English department receive one weekly departmental meeting as well as a weekly morning briefing at the start of the week to discuss the agenda for the week ahead. All departmental CPD is tailored towards meeting the needs of the students and ensuring staff are well-equipped to deliver quality first teaching practice.
All English lessons are designed and delivered by subject specialists. The curriculum offer in English complies with the whole school requirements of encompassing a 5-year road map, digital strategy, national curriculum links and considerations of employer engagement.
The marking and feedback policy within English also conforms to the whole school policy, whereby students upload any written work onto Showbie ready for the teacher to share feedback using the coding system that is also promoted by the school. Teachers are also expected to provide verbal feedback to students in lessons and ensure that all data from assessments are inputted into the English master tracker.
In terms of digital strategy, English utilises a variety of digital platforms within each lesson, with particular emphasis on Showbie for marking and feedback and Socrative as a means of formative assessment. As the curriculum continues to develop, more digital platforms will be accessible for students to support them in their independent work and revision.
Behaviour in English is addressed by referring to the whole school behaviour policy. Students are given the opportunity to reflect on any poor behaviour by having a restorative conversation with the teacher and/or being empowered through coaching strategies using the GROW model.
English maintains consistency in having an autonomous approach when considering homework. Students are expected to regularly revise key spellings and definitions of tier 2 vocabulary and this is formatively assessed on a weekly basis. Furthermore, students are also set homework activities that have a minimum requirement that they are expected to complete. In order to combat the low reading ages of our students, pre-reading activities are also set as homework and, again, this is assessed formatively in lesson as a ‘Do Now’ quiz.