Sadly, many of our learners arrive with lower than average reading ages. As a result, they are disaffected by English – a subject that requires significant reading and writing – so our initial aim is to re-engage them in the subject. This is achieved through a focus on Functional Skills.
Pupils from Year 8 study Functional Skills so they can achieve a qualification throughout the academic year which boosts their self-esteem. This also supports applications for our Year 11s’ post-16 routes (as many courses will offer Functional Skills if a grade C or a 4 is not achieved at GCSE). Already having the Functional Skills qualification provides our learners with the security of knowing they can study post-16. It also assures them that they have the potential to succeed for their final GCSE exam.
Our main aim is to provide pupils with a qualification in English, whether this is Functional Skills and/or GCSE.
We strive to:
- provide support in, independently, reading and writing for the real world (Functional Skills);
- upskill pupils comprehension or a range of text types across the centuries;
- encourage creative writing and writing for different purposes;
- develop an appreciation for poetry, Shakespeare and modern texts.
The course across KS3 and KS4 is designed to cover Functional Skills Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening, Poetry, Pre-C20th texts, modern prose and drama.
Pupils study a different unit each half term in order to maintain engagement; however, similar skills are being utilised. The beginning of every academic year focuses on Literacy, with particular attention to the correct use of capital letters and punctuation, spelling, grammar, vocabulary for effect and different types of sentence structures. This is revisited prior to Functional Skills examinations. Writing for different purposes and audiences is taught as art of the Functional Skills studies but also as a comprehension activity for analysis at GCSE English Language.
Throughout the year, pupils will view a range of texts for which they will research context to consider the impact on a reader now at the time the text was written. They will develop their understanding of how meaning is conveyed which also supports their own writing.
Extended writing is included as part of the course and pupils are given scope to apply their creativity to a range of text types and audiences.
Due to the amount of writing required for higher grades in English Language and Literature, strategies to encourage extended writing and the use of Point Quote Comment (explanation/analysis/evaluation) are sourced most lessons. In addition, the mark schemes led themselves to the higher order challenge of Bloom’s Taxonomy/Anderson’s revised taxonomy – thus, lesson objectives incorporate Bloom’s taxonomy to support pupils with the challenge required in the different exam questions.
There is a focus on class discussions to support Functional Skills Level 1 S&L but also to tease out ideas surrounding different texts, particularly those of previous centuries. Different learning styles are supported throughout the lessons in order to support pupils’ engagement and focus: for example, using worksheets, text books, PowerPoints, discussion and poster work.
Teaching of poetry and fictional texts can often seem theatrical and/or ‘over-the-top’ but this is to engage learners and support their comprehension as it is likely that many pupils will not have seen staged productions of texts.
Assessment of work is in accordance with the 9-1 grading scheme. Generally, mark schemes for the exam papers are in line with Bloom’s Taxonomy, utilising key words at different levels: such as evaluate, analyse, understand, etc.
Although the number of qualified teaching staff is small, we have been able to work with sessional staff to conduct moderation of mock exam papers and provide intervention which standardises the class teacher’s marking, delivery of skills and topics.
Mock exams are held in order to enable pupils to understand the expectations, particularly length of text extracts and time restrictions, whilst assessing pupils’ ability to perform under restrictions. The results of this highlight any areas for development which can either be focused on in future lessons or as part of individual intervention.
All pupils complete a baseline upon entry to the academy. In most cases, this is a past exam paper. Given the length and demand of this, many pupils (particularly those who have been absent from education for a period of tie) struggle to achieve grades that their KS2 data target. Combined with the NGRT, pupils who require access arrangements, or laptops for a usual way of working, can be identified early.
Each year, we review the exam board we are offering at GCSE, recently moving from the new AQA specification to WJEC - based on pupils’ perception of the accessibility of the texts for Reading assessment.
We have also re-introduced mock exams, with the support of the pupils, which helps to identify individual areas for development, identify those who may struggle to conform to expectations in the exam and provide further evidence for any access arrangement requirements.
We will re-evaluate our GCSE specification following this series of summer examinations and discuss with the Year 11 cohort moving forward.
|Connectives for extended writing: History, Finance, subject terminology, annotation: Finance, Art & Design, Childcare||Authors and playwrights across time, e.g Shakespeare, Dickens etc (people) Studies of texts like 'A Christmas Carol'(different religions, cultures and traditions). Reading of biographies and autobiographies- artists- (events/people/places)||
Word (writing a letter and email)
Data sharing (SLE
*SLE- Spoken Language Endorsement (presentations)
English Key Stage 3
At Derby Pride Academy, the KS3 curriculum is delivered in stage, not age, teaching groups. In English, we focus closely on providing our students with the required Reading, Writing and Spoken Language skills at KS3 to prepare them for their core GCSE English at KS4.
On entry, pupils undertake a baseline assessment, which is used to identify strengths and set targets for improvement. This enables staff to focus on specific ways for pupils to make progress.
The academic year begins with a focus on Literacy and improving basic skills to support progress across the curriculum. Preparation then begins for GCSE text study with a strong focus on improving reading skills. Pupils use a range of reading strategies to analyse language, meaning and the relationships between texts and context. This leads to a study of modern texts where context is developed to include textual references and direct quotation.
The second half of the academic year returns to writing, although this is more closely linked to GCSE preparation in using specific vocabulary and punctuation for effect and varying texts to suit different audiences.
English Key Stage 4
During Key Stage Four, we continue to build upon the Reading, Writing and Spoken Language skills that pupils have developed throughout Key Stage Three.
We study a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, both contemporary and from the literary heritage, thus enabling students to become critical readers and ensuring they are able to produce a wide variety of written responses. The syllabus is split between English Language and English Literature.
In GCSE English Language pupils read a wide range of texts from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, including literature and literary non-fiction as well as other writing such as reviews and journalism.
They are asked to read and evaluate texts critically and make comparisons between texts. Additionally, they look at how to summarise and synthesise information or ideas from texts.
In terms of writing, pupils use knowledge gained from wide reading to inform and improve their own texts, writing effectively and coherently using Standard English appropriately. Pupils aim to use grammar correctly and punctuate and spell accurately. Within their lessons, students are encouraged to acquire and apply a wide vocabulary, alongside a knowledge and understanding of grammatical terminology, and linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language.
There are two AQA English Language exam papers at GCSE. Paper 1 looks at ‘Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing.’ Pupils will be asked to analyse a literature text as well as writing a descriptive piece. Paper 2 looks at ‘Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives.’ Pupils analyse a non-fiction text, and present a viewpoint through a piece of writing.
Pupils also look at presenting verbally and discussing as part of the Spoken Language aspect of the course, although this is not ultimately assessed.
As well as developing the skills in analysing, comparing and evaluating texts that they have used at Key Stage 3, pupils examine four key components in GCSE English Literature.
They work with a Shakespeare play, seeking to find meaning in the language and the structure. In their AQA English Literature Paper 1, they will be asked to analyse an extract, as well as relating it to the play as a whole.
In addition, pupils look at a 19th Century novel. They take a voyage into how linguistic choices, structural choices and other aspects contribute to the overall meanings within the text. Similarly to Shakespeare, in their exam they will be asked to write about an extract and then the novel as a whole.
The study of poetry is another key component of English Literature. Pupils work with an anthology of poems, and are asked to analyse and compare poems in their English Literature Paper 2. This paper also asks them to investigate an unseen poem. This makes it essential that they are able to consider how the poet has conveyed their ideas.
Finally, pupils also read a modern text, either prose or drama. In their examination, students answer a question about said text, making it vital that they are aware of the central ideas, themes and characters.