Head of Department: Jess Smith
At de Stafford, the English team seeks to inspire a love of language and literature, and to provide all pupils with the skills necessary to communicate effectively, thus enabling them to reach their true potential.
Key Stage 3 English
Students study English for 4 hours per week in Years 7 and 8. Years 7 and 8 spend one of their lessons undertaking Accelerated Reader. Moreover, the literacy skills taught during English lessons underpin learning across the curriculum. The students study the following topics:
- A modern novel
- A heritage novel
- Seminal world literature
- Short stories
- A range of poetry, both contemporary and heritage
- Two Shakespeare plays
- Creative writing
- Media and non-fiction
- Speaking and listening
Each topic is designed to be enjoyable and engaging at the same time as maintaining academic rigour. The Key Stage 3 course dovetails slickly with the GCSE syllabi in Literature and Language through the use of common assessment focuses.
Students are expected to complete at least one piece of homework each week. Part of this requirement will be fulfilled through the revision of spelling lists.
Extra-curricular opportunities are various: the team regularly runs competitions in creative writing and poetry; there is an annual Carnegie Prize shadowing club; where possible, students are invited to attend theatre productions that are relevant to class set texts.
Key Stage 3
During the first half term, students undertake a creative writing project. This is called “Spirit of Adventure” and students use their imagination to construct descriptions. The next unit requires students to analyse contemporary relationship poetry. Following this, students read “Lord of the Flies” and complete an essay. Non-fiction is the theme for the Year 7 exam and this is taught after Easter. The works of Shakespeare are introduced with either “Merchant of Venice,” “Macbeth” or “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
To begin the year, students are re-introduced to non-fiction reading and writing. We undertake an introduction to the world of Media Studies prior to the students choosing their option subjects for GCSE. Media Studies and English have some important links, particularly in the areas of textual analysis and characters and themes. Year 8s are required to read and analyse poetry from different cultures in the spring term. The term is completed with a reading of the short stories of Roald Dahl, including “The Landlady” and “Lamb to the Slaughter”. Of course, spelling, punctuation and grammar are a focus throughout. The plight of the Jews is a focus in the reading of the play, “Kindertransport” after Easter. Here students learn to embed a consideration of context into their analysis of a text. “Of Mice and Men”- written by Nobel Prize winner, John Steinbeck - is an example of the seminal world literature that de Stafford students encounter.
Key Stage 4 English
English Literature and Language are studied by all students in Years 10 and 11 at de Stafford. Under the new GCSE grading system, a level 5 or above would indicate to most employers and further education institutions that the student has a level of literacy that is sufficient to enable them to progress to further study or work.
In Years 10 and 11, students study English for four hours per week. The Literature qualification for teaching from 2015 requires students to study texts from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.
The exciting world of Gothic literature is introduced at the beginning of the year. The pre-1914 element for Year 9 is the study of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens which is the first set text for the GCSE. They will then encounter pre-1914 texts through Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales of Sherlock Holmes. They are required to engage with voice, characters, structure, language and themes here. Following this, a “Romeo and Juliet” brief unit introduces the students to their second GCSE text. The reading and writing of fiction are taught after Easter. Finally, students engage with poetry from World War One which prepares them for analysing unseen poetry and the context for the anthology poems later on.
We begin the GCSE course with a more comprehensive study of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. Students are taught the assessment objectives for their course and they are assessed throughout with these in mind. During the first term, students will be given an anthology of poetry which contains contemporary works and poetry from the British literary heritage. These, along with “An Inspector Calls”, are studied for the Literature GCSE. Our fourth half term is used to practise the analysis of non-fiction from 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. We finish the year with an analysis of unseen poetry and the reading of extracts from fiction since 19th century. Throughout the year, students continually practise writing fiction and non-fiction. Literacy is an important focus in English lessons.
Year 11 in English is a consolidation year. We return to the set texts, re-reading and enhancing analysis skills for GCSE English Literature. Year 11s will begin their final year with practising the reading and writing skills that they will need to have mastered for their GCSE Language exams. They will delve deeper into “An Inspector Calls during this term. Repetition of reading and analysis enables the students to commit to memory the necessary information: this is extremely important with closed book exams. The students are taught to consider thematic and technical links between the anthology poems. We return to “A Christmas Carol,” which they read first in Year 9, just before the winter break. In the spring, students re-visit “Romeo and Juliet” and the English Language non-fiction paper. In the final term, students sit their GCSE exams.
The Literature and Language courses are assessed through a total of four terminal examinations and a separate oral assessment. The requirements for the new GCSE curriculum in English Literature and Language are met through studying the following topics:
- A Shakespeare play
- A modern play
- A range of poetry which includes Romantic works
- A novel from the English literary heritage
- Spoken language
- Non-fiction reading and writing
- Fiction reading and writing
We currently follow the AQA syllabi.
Extended learning, which is completed outside of the classroom, is an important part of this GCSE course.
There are many extra-curricular activities which support students’ learning in this subject. Examples of these are the excursion to the World War I battlefields, the Carnegie shadowing club, Book Buddies and the Young Shakespeare production.
Studying GCSE English Literature and Language leads directly to A Levels in these subjects. It also prepares students to undertake further study in any subject which requires extensive written communication.