The English Department at Gaynes aims to provide students with a challenging, inspiring and thought-provoking curriculum. We continually strive to help and develop all of our students to improve their written and spoken literacy, as well as to embed a genuine love of literature, whilst constantly encouraging students to be independent thinkers and to approach their learning with creativity and resilience. The English department plays a central role in teaching students transferable skills that are essential in other subjects and in life. Students are given a voice through their work in English, meaning their work in the subject makes them more empowered, confident and secure in their identity and their place in the world. We are committed to reflecting the experiences of a range of different cultures as well as exploring British values both in the present day and throughout history.
At KS3 students develop a range of skills in reading, writing and speaking and listening, this is achieved through engaging with challenging texts, tasks and ideas. Students are taught in sets to ensure that students’ learning is as challenging and personalised as possible. Students are regularly assessed and monitored so that we can celebrate exceptional achievement and ensure that we support them in their areas of difficulty. Lessons are planned to be engaging and challenging, encouraging students to become increasingly confident and reflective learners. A focus on improving skills across the key stage ensures clear progression between units and prepares pupils for the necessary skills required at GCSE and beyond.
In KS3 learners are offered a broad and balanced curriculum which encompasses a wide range of learning experiences, Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural issues and Writers’ with a foundation based on Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar. Students will study works by historical and contemporary writers as part of their programmes of study.
All KS3 classes have a reading lesson once a week where pupils have the opportunity to read and discuss a set text with their class. These lessons encourage pupils to develop their voices as active readers, their inference skills and their ability to respond critically to a text. These skills are essential at both KS3, KS4 and beyond. The department also enjoys excellent collaboration with the school’s library, which is stocked with books to cater for students with a range of interests and ability levels. All KS3 classes have the opportunity to visit the library as a group on a regular basis. The reading lesson sits alongside the expectation that students read upwards of 9 books an academic year, completing an Accelerated Reader quiz within 24 hours of completing the book to show their understanding, grow their vocabulary and stimulate their creative mindset.
The Department promotes reading across the whole school, leading on a variety of initiatives to encourage students to read widely. This includes working with the school’s library, with all classes from years 7-9. Curriculum-linked visits are also led by the Department, with trips to libraries, theatres, museums, workshops and other locations of literary significance planned. Outside theatre companies and speakers are also planned to visit Gaynes to deliver presentations and performances.
At KS4 all students study two GCSEs: English Language and English Literature. These qualifications have been designed to be fully co-teachable and have a strong focus on a skills based approach. Revision and intervention classes are run at certain points throughout the year to support students in their learning and their preparation for the examinations in these important qualifications.
The new English GCSE entails reading a wider range of texts from: 19th century fiction, non-fiction and non-literary sources, also including short stories from contemporary writers and plays rich in British culture. Pupils are also given the opportunity to present their views about a topic of interest developing their oracy and confidence for public speaking.
GCSE English Language
The English Language GCSE encourages students to read range of high quality, challenging literature and non-fiction texts from a range of genres and types, including texts from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.
There is an emphasis on making sure that students are able to write clearly and accurately, in clear Standard English. To ensure that this is achieved there is an increased emphasis on spelling, punctuation and grammar, as well as on the appropriate use of a range of increasingly sophisticated vocabulary and writing techniques
GCSE English Literature
The English Literature GCSE encourages students to read a wide range of classic literature fluently and will include assessment of:
- A 19th century novel: ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’
- A Shakespeare play: ‘Macbeth’
- A selection of poetry since 1789 including representative Romantic poems, on the theme of Power and Conflict.
- British fiction or drama from 1914 onwards: ‘An Inspector Calls’
There is an emphasis on enabling students to express their ideas about texts in a clear and exploratory way, with a discussion of the impact of language, form and structure as well as the contexts in which texts were written.
Support for your learning outside of the classroom
- Read a range of fiction. This will increase imaginative, descriptive and narrative writing skills.
- Read a range of non-fiction texts (free online broadsheet newspapers, magazines, internet articles, newsletters, reviews, reports, letters (formal and informal), leaflets and apps, (e.g. The Guardian) to ensure you are familiar with a range of writing styles and expand your vocabulary.
- Complete your homework for English each week; you can always correct and redraft work independently to make sure you are improving constantly. Reading through and discussing homework is very useful.
- Look up new vocabulary and check spellings using a dictionary and a thesaurus.
- Try to use formal spoken language or Standard English when speaking to teachers or other members of staff.
- Parents can also check the website for updates and information on trips and competitions.
- Resource/text books available on Amazon to support your learning at GCSE. Look for guides relating to AQA English Language.
- Try to read any set novels or plays at least twice in your own time.
- Watch different versions of the texts you have studied.
- Read a range of poetry- head to the library for inspiration.
- Check your homework diary on a regular basis to ensure you’re not missing anything.
- Use the internet to revise characters, themes and relevant context.
- Revision guides are available in the library or bookshops.
- Students can and should independently create revision guides to memorise key quotes using cue cards, sugar paper, post-its, etc.