The English department is staffed with a team of committed English teachers coming from a range of backgrounds. There are five full-time members of the department and one KS3-specific part-time member. Many of our teachers are also trained English examiners for GCSE and/or A Level. The department is also supported by our close working relationship with the school librarian.
At Key Stage 3, all Year 7 students have three classroom based lessons of English a week, supported by an additional Library lesson each week led collaboratively by an English teacher and the school librarian. Students in Years 8 and 9 have four English lessons a week and attend the school library on a fortnightly schedule during one of their usual English lessons, in order to continue to promote independent reading and research skills. Our course content and text choices cater for students across the ability ranges and all classes are organised in mixed ability groups in order to help ensure the progress of all abilities. Students complete units of work in line with the new GCSE curriculum content, completing either a Literature or Language based assessments each half-term.
Set units of work throughout KS3 include Modern Prose, Literary Heritage Prose, Poetry, Modern Drama, Shakespearean Drama, Creative Reading and Writing and Non-Fiction Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives; all in line with the current GCSE specifications to support their transition into KS4. Likewise, all assessed work at KS3 is completed in-class, under timed conditions, to ensure students are amply prepared for the demands of GCSE in the future.
At GCSE level, we have a history of very positive results with students following the AQA syllabi to complete both the English Language and English Literature courses. In Year 10, students receive five English lessons a week, with the majority of content covered focusing on the English Literature components, including Shakespearean Drama, Anthology Poetry and Modern Texts, but also covering Language Paper 2, Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives, which focuses on non-fiction texts from the 19th Century and 20th/21st Century. In Year 11, students receive four English lessons a week, with the majority of lessons and complete their final English Literature units, 19th Century Prose and Unseen Poetry, as well as study of Language Paper 1, Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing. Within Year 11 students are provided ample class time to complete revision of units studied in Year 10. In line with changes to exam board specifications, as of September 2015 all final assessed work at GCSE is completed in examinations based on the texts studied in lessons. To support students in this, all assessed work across both Years 10 and 11 is completed in-class, under timed, examination conditions and marked in line with examination criteria.
At Key Stage 5 students study English Literature, following the WJEC A Level syllabus and sitting all exams at the end of a linear two year course. In both Years 12 and 13 students receive 5/6 lessons a week (on a fortnightly alternating timetable) and are taught by two English teachers. In Year 12, units of study include completion of the non-exam assessed coursework unit, which focuses on feminist prose from both pre and post-2000, and begin study of their Post-1900 comparative Poetry texts in one side of the course, and the study of both Pre and Post-1900 Drama texts in the other half of the course. In Year 13, students will complete their remaining examination units on Shakespearean Drama, Pre-1900 Poetry and Unseen Poetry and Prose. In line with changes to exam board specifications, as of September 2015 the majority of final assessed work at A Level is completed in examinations based on the texts studied in lessons; the only unit of work internally assessed is the coursework component. We have a history of exceptional results in the English department, with steadily increasing proportions of our students achieving grades A-A*.
Assessment in the English department is monitored very closely. All formally assessed work at all key stages is recorded into our departmental trackers in order to allow pupil progress to be closely monitored against individual targets. Intervention strategies are introduced where student achievement is falling below expectations.
At all key stages students will produce a minimum of one formal assessment piece every half-term, marked according to the relevant assessment foci. As the entirety of assessment at GCSE level is now examination based, all formal assessments at both GCSE and Key Stage 3 are now conducted under timed, exam-style conditions within lessons in order to prepare students for the demands of these exams. Our aim in introducing in-class assessment at Key Stage 3 is to start to build student confidence in examination assessment conditions from an early age so students are well prepared for the demands of their official examinations in Year 11.
At GCSE and A Level, students will also be assessed by formal written examinations but are expected to complete mock examination papers throughout the year, both in and outside of lessons.
The English department is well stocked with a range of texts for each individual year group, as well as other materials such as departmental student work booklets and a class set of laptops. We also work very closely with our school librarian to ensure that students understand how to access appropriate materials to aid their English studies and offer GCSE students the opportunity to buy official revision guides for their set texts through us at a reduced school rate.
The English department offers a range of clubs and study groups throughout the year to support and extend pupil learning. These include but are not limited to a Creative Writing club, a Poetry Club, participation in the Young Reporters Scheme, various book clubs, a Theatre Appreciation Club, a Homework and Help lunchtime club and year group / class trips to student conferences, literary lectures and drama performances. A Level English students in particular are encouraged to attend extra-curricular performances, lectures, workshops and university English open days organised by the department to support their studies.