CURRICULUM INTENT: VALUES AND VISION
The English curriculum at Greenbank aims to equip all students, regardless of ability, with the skills they need to be successful beyond school. Our vision is for every pupil to leave school with the tools they need for the wider world, including the ability to write formal letters, the confidence to present their ideas and opinions to an audience, and the skills to read a range of texts fluently.
In addition to these key skills, our aim is to foster a love of English and a passion for learning in English. Our curriculum has been designed to inspire and motivate students, providing appropriate stretch and challenge, whilst ensuring, as far as possible, that the assessment and texts are accessible to the full range of students.
Our curriculum design will enable students of all abilities to develop the skills they need to read, understand, and analyse a wide range of different texts covering the 19th, 20th and 21st century time periods, as well as to write clearly, coherently, and accurately using a range of vocabulary and sentence structures.
Overall, our curriculum aims to:
- Provide students with the opportunity to read challenging and engaging texts from a range of different cultures and time periods.
- Ensure that students are equipped with the literacy skills they need in order to be successful beyond their school years.
- Develop higher order skills, such as evaluation, synthesis, and analysis.
- Bring texts to life through enrichment opportunities, including theatre visits and live performances of set texts.
- Promote a love of reading and a passion for English Literature.
- Develop essay-writing skills and provide pupils with the opportunity to write for extended periods of time.
- Promote creativity and provide students with the opportunity to express themselves and their feelings through writing.
- Support character education by developing empathy skills and understanding of others through exploring texts from different cultures and perspectives.
- Address misconceptions through the structure and design of schemes of work.
- Inspire students to continue their study of English Language and Literature at A-Level or Degree level.
- Combine all three strands of the English curriculum: reading, writing, and speaking and listening to engage all pupils and foster their individual talents and interests.
FOSTERING A LOVE OF READING
Reading is at the heart of everything we do. We are committed to promoting the importance of reading and creating keen readers of every genre. We aim to foster a love of reading through the following strategies:
- A dedicated reading lesson once a fortnight for years 7 and 8.
- Reading in PDT time, supported by the English department.
- Showcasing the teachers as readers through ‘What are we reading?’ displays on classroom doors and around the school.
- Support pupils with the transition from year 6 to year 7 through Access Reading tests and STAR testing (Accelerated Reader), identifying pupils who need support with reading or literacy, including pupils who are Not Secondary Ready.
- Identify potential barriers to a pupil’s reading skills/development, providing support and individualised reading intervention where appropriate, including phonic support and the Catch Up Literacy programme.
- Paired reading in PDT managed by Literacy Leaders and overseen by Literacy Coordinator.
- Literacy themed events and extra-curricular activities, including Book Club led by our school librarian.
- Having a well-stocked library with the books pupils want to read.
- Exposure to authors through regular author visits for whole year groups as well as targeted pupils.
- The high profile of World Book Day. At Greenbank, we have World Book Week, which raises the profile of reading in all subjects. Staff are fully involved in promoting World Book Week, and do so through a range of strategies, such as dressing up as their favourite fictional characters, completing book-based quizzes in PDT and planning book/character themed lessons on the day.
DELIVERY OF THE CURRICULUM
A typical English lesson involves a combination of the core skills for English: reading, writing, and speaking and listening. Seating plans are in place in every classroom to ensure all pupils are ready to learn and reach their potential. Student voice is valued in English lessons and all students are encouraged to be active participants in lessons through independent, paired, and group work. Targeted questions are planned to support all pupils.
Schemes of work are in-place to ensure all pupils have the same quality of experience in every classroom. This also ensures continuity and consistency for shared groups and assists with Key Stage Four sitting a single tiered exam. Schemes of work employ dyslexia friendly strategies in their presentation and use of resources, and are differentiated for each class, with a particular focus on resources for lower ability and More Able pupils.
Vocabulary is explicitly taught in English lessons and pupils are given opportunities to read full texts and write for extended periods of time. Every lesson also has a technical accuracy focus, linked to whole school Literacy initiatives, such as Word of the Week and Fortnightly Focus.
Homework is set regularly and is often intended to support pupils to remember key quotes, themes, and ideas. Revision is something that we do from year 7, and often includes learning quotes/key contextual facts, spellings, research, reading and summarising, and essay writing skills. Knowledge organisers are provided for every scheme of work.
All students have a work book for English as well as an assessment book. Our rationale for this is to encourage pupils to be reflective and to be willing to draft, re-draft, and make mistakes in their work book. The work books are mainly self and peer-assessed by pupils, with the teacher using Mark Codes to encourage reflection and specific targets for improvement (see appendix 1). Assessment books are intended to showcase the best work of pupils, which is a record of their achievement as well as being a revision resource. The book is kept from year 7 through to year 11.
In years 7 and 8, students are taught in mixed ability groups. This allows students to work collaboratively and to learn from and support each other. Teachers differentiate work for pupils in their class in order provide appropriate challenge and support.
Assessments take place twice per half term and cover reading and writing. Students are assessed on speaking and listening in-class with one formal assessment taking place during the year. Assessments inform our data entry (PIPs).
The assessments are divided between self-assessed and teacher assessed and build up in level of skill. For some assessments, students are assessed on a short piece of writing, to ensure they are not too onerous. While the assessments mirror GCSE objectives, they are not intended to teach to the exam.
When students begin year 9, they are placed into sets to support their study of GCSE English Literature. At this stage, setting allows for pupils to complete their GCSE study alongside pupils of a similar ability, aiming for the same end of year targets, in order to allow for pupils to achieve their potential.
Regardless of the set, all pupils have access to the same curriculum which is Quality Assured linked to the exam. Teachers have high expectations of all pupils and progress is not limited. Teaching takes into account the needs of individuals in each group and is personalised.
Assessments take place one per term in year 9 and 10, with mini checks and quizzing to ensure memory and retention.
When students get to years 10 and 11, three formal PPEs (pre-public examintaions) are scheduled, with in-class assessments also taking place once per half term.
Key Stage Three
In years 7 and 8, students are taught in mixed ability groups. Students have seven lessons of English a fortnight, with one lesson a reading lesson using Accelerated Reader. The aim of Accelerated Reader is to engage students with reading and to track their progress throughout the year. The programme itself provides useful data to teachers to inform planning and intervention for students whose reading age is below their chronological age. The data generated from Accelerated Reader also informs teachers of students’ other skills, such as vocabulary, comprehension, and inference. Overall, our main aims are to use the programme to encourage a love of reading, and to support students to access the full range of texts they will be exposed to as part of their studies at Greenbank. The programme helps us to ensure that, by the end of year 8, students are ready to begin their GCSEs in year 9. An individualised intervention programme is put into place for those students who need further support to access the GCSE curriculum. This programme may include study support, SEND profiles, access arrangements, and Catch Up Literacy.
Students begin their study of English at Greenbank with a poetry unit. This is the first of six fully resourced, lesson-by-lesson Schemes of Work. Materials are all available on the VLE for pupils who are absent to access, and the lesson-by-lesson scheme ensures consistency in coverage for pupils.
The first unit of work is intended to support the transition process and for teaching staff to get to know the new pupils in a creative way. It builds on the skills and content covered in Key Stage Two Poetry by consolidating understanding of key terms for poetry as well as key terms for English generally. Pupils reading skills, including the skills to infer, are also built on in the poetry unit.
The poetry scheme allows for pupils to show their skills through a self-assessed poetry composition task and a poetry analysis exercise which is assessed by the teacher. This unit also introduces students to essay-style writing, as well as teaching students the skills to reflect on their own work and complete ‘Improvement Time’, which is a key part of English lessons at Greenbank. This unit forms a baseline diagnostic for pupils.
Students also study gothic fiction in term one. The study of this unit creates opportunities for students to study pre-1914 fiction through challenging and engaging texts, such as The Red Room by H.G. Wells. To conclude the unit, students are tested on both their reading and writing. Descriptive writing skills are tested through a description of a gothic setting, which builds on the creative skills covered in the poetry unit. For reading, students continue to work on essay-writing skills through their analysis of a chosen pre-1914 text: Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier.
Following on from this, during term 2, students build on the skills to read and analyse non-fiction texts. Students complete a scheme of work on travel writing, allowing them to explore texts from different cultures and time periods. The unit is assessed through a travel writing article, as well as a speaking and listening task, where students are given the opportunity to be creative, and learn the skills needed to persuade and debate. Students who enjoy this unit of work are encouraged to attend debate club/public speaking in order to further their interest and skills in this area.
For the second half of this term, students build on the essay writing skills from the poetry and gothic fiction units and start to develop formal essay writing skills. They are introduced to the study of Shakespeare with a unit focusing on the themes of love and hate in Romeo and Juliet. More Able students may delve further into the parental relationships within the play, analysing a wider range of themes and contextual references. This introduction to Shakespeare gives students a valuable insight to Shakespeare’s works, which will support their GCSE study in later years. Students are also taught revision skills in this unit, and retention and recall of key quotes takes place throughout the unit.
In the final term, Students are given the opportunity to read and study a classic novel. The novels we select introduce students to a wide range of cultures, time periods, and experiences. For example, some classes will study Private Peaceful, which links to the Power and Conflict cluster studied in year 8.
The study of a class novel supports students in their comprehension and inference skills, as well as being an opportunity for the class teacher to model characterisation and narrative structures.
Students begin year 8 with a unit on Oliver Twist. Through the teaching of this unit, students are exposed to the study of context related to Victorian London and the Industrial Revolution, and have opportunities to undertake research relating to education over time. Here, links are made to the year 8 history curriculum. Students will also have the opportunity to produce a creative piece: ‘Imagine you are Oliver…’ This scheme of work will form the basis of the diagnostic assessment.
Following this, students continue their study of literature through a mini anthology of poems. This is to support their study of the AQA Love and Relationships cluster in year 9. We believe this experience is crucial for all pupils, with SEND pupils in particular benefiting from the opportunity to practise the skills needed to read, analyse, and annotate a range of poems before beginning their GCSE study. In year 8, students study the Power and Conflict cluster, allowing them to continue to explore significant moments in history, as well as understanding different perspectives on war.
In the second term, students study Women in Literature. As part of this unit, they write an article about an inspirational female. The unit links in well with the study of careers and further education beyond school. It also allows students to consolidate their article writing skills from year 7.
For the reading element of this unit, students read a range of classic and contemporary texts with a focus on female protagonists, such as Hermione Granger, Katniss Everdeen, and Elizabeth Bennet. The focus here is to engage students with the reading of modern texts (all available in our school library) as well as exploring a challenging 19th century text. This supports the study of 19th century texts as part of English Language Paper 2 and English Literature Paper 1.
The unit supports SEND and More Able pupils as there is flexibility for the class teacher to focus on different female protagonists. For SEND pupils, the link to modern texts that they may have seen, read, or heard about, helps with their understanding. For More Able pupils, we encourage them to read classic literature, such as Pride and Prejudice, and introduce them to a range of time periods, cultures, and experiences.
In this term, students also study Our Day Out, a topic designed to engage students with Liverpool in the 1970s and 80s. For the assessment, students take part in a Speaking and Listening assessment piece which requires them to comment on who Willy Russell wants the audience to think is the better teacher: Mrs Kay or Mr Briggs. Here, students build on the skills they learnt in year 7 in order to produce a speech and perform it to an audience of their peers. We also believe the inclusion of regular Speaking and Listening tasks helps to support SEND pupils, or pupils who lack confidence in their reading or writing skills, to confidently demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the topics being studied.
In the final term, students complete a summer exam which is used to inform setting in year 9. The exam is AQA English Language Paper 2, which has been adapted by AQA to be suitable for Key Stage Three classes. The exam tests reading: comprehension, inference, synthesis, and comparison, and writing: transactional pieces. Teachers will mark a selection of papers, rather than their own class, to ensure accuracy and consistency in marking. The grade boundaries for this paper will be set in-line with the distribution of grades. This ensures that all students have the opportunity to access the higher grades and mirrors the GCSE process. Moderation and standardisation supports this process.
At the end of year 8, students begin their study of Henry IV. This unit of work is important in introducing the themes of kingship and leadership to support the study of Macbeth beginning in year 9. The unit also aims to consolidate the skills needed to revise successfully, including homework tasks intended to support their memory and retention of key quotes, themes, and ideas.
Key Stage Four
In English, our GCSE curriculum begins in year 9. Students are entered for English Literature at the end of year 10, meaning year 11 can be used for the teaching of English Language. We believe that focusing on Literature first enables students to cover the content of the course in-depth, as well as allowing them to manage their time well and revise more effectively. The skills for English Language are taught throughout the Literature course to ensure pupils are exam-ready, and Language is taught more explicitly in year 11.
The year begins with an introduction to GCSE poetry for Literature paper 2: AQA Love and Relationships Anthology. Here, pupils build crucial analytical skills and revise technical vocabulary, which allows them to refine the approaches offered at Key Stage Three in line with GCSE assessment objectives. Pupils also learn the importance of social and historical context as they consider how the texts reflect the attitudes and values of the times in which they were written, and make links to the curriculum for Religious Education by exploring different types of love.
Following this, pupils embark on the formalised study of the whole text of Macbeth. Through this unit, skills of analysis and explorations are developed, alongside a focus on the dramatic features of the text and its historical context. Links are made here to the study of Romeo and Juliet and Henry IV in Key Stage Three, as well as links to Religious Education, specifically through the study of religious allegories in Macbeth. Students who opt for GCSE drama will also be familiar with the text through their study of ‘Macbeth and the performance space’ in the first term of year 9.
After the teaching of Macbeth, students will study character, theme, context, and dramatic devices in An Inspector Calls. They will consider the writer’s intentions closely as well as the effect on the audience. At this point, they will be able to apply the skills they have learnt when studying Macbeth in order to analyse the conventions of the play. Links are also made to the year 8 history curriculum again when studying An Inspector Calls through references to the First and Second World War, and the curriculum for Religious Education through interpretations of one of the main characters, Inspector Goole.
Linked in with the study of An Inspector Calls, students will study another Literature Paper 2 topic: unseen poetry. As with other topics, unseen poetry will be re-visited frequently in order to build pupils’ confidence and analytical skills. Learning of quotes for set texts will also be revisited through interleaving over the course of the year and websites such as SENECA and APPS such as PIXL Lit are used to support pupils’ memory and retention. Both websites generate data sets for teachers which summarise pupil performance, indicating if a pupil/class are underperforming or unsure of a certain topic or theme. Knowledge organisers, PLCS, and RAG charts help teachers and pupils to understand where they are currently at.
To conclude year 9, pupils will complete a formal PPE: Literature Paper 2. This will allow them to build their skills in revising for English Literature, as well as preparing them for the demands of a 2 hour 15 minute exam.
Term 1 begins with A Christmas Carol (Literature Paper 1). The higher order skill of analysing how writers use language for effect is key here and links are made to previous study of Victorian Literature and the Industrial Revolution. Assessment takes the form of a sample question from AQA which is then marked and internally moderated. Following this, students will then re-visit Macbeth in order to complete a PPE of English Literature Paper 1 at the end of the autumn-winter term.
In preparation for PPE 2, pupils focus again on poetry and An Inspector Calls. This forms part of a second PPE for students. The rationale behind regular, formal PPE assessments is to ensure students are equipped to manage their time successfully in an exam, and are trained to write under exam conditions.
To conclude year 10, pupils complete their GCSE in May and then begin study of English Language in preparation for year 11. They also complete the Spoken Language component of the course: completing a speech on a topic they feel strongly about.
Term 1 of year 11 begins with a focus on Language Paper 1. Students build on the skills needed to write creatively and imaginatively by producing stories and descriptive pieces. This links to their study of AQA Language Paper 1 in Key Stage Three. As part of this unit, they also build on their analytical skills and consider the language and structure used in stories. Furthermore, students will be given time to develop their evaluation skills in preparation for question 4.
In the second half of the autumn-winter term, students focus on transactional writing and non-fiction pieces for English Language Paper 2 (see appendix 2). A link is made here to the speeches produced for their Speaking and Listening assessment at the end of year 10. Students build skills in comparison, synthesis, and inference, and develop the skills to analyse texts from different time periods.
In the spring term, staff adapt teaching to reflect areas which their classes need to improve on. Revision skills explicitly taught in lessons to support pupils in their study, and an interleaved approach is used for Language (similar to Literature). Regular quizzes and mini tests are used at the start of every lesson ‘Starter for Five’, for example, including testing pupils on key terminology needed for the exam. PIXL Resources such as the Personal Learning Checklists support teachers to check on what pupils are learning and to assess their understanding. There is also an area of the VLE dedicated to revision, including past papers and mark schemes.
Language papers 1 and 2 are revisited and two further PPEs take place at February half term and before the spring holiday.
Our school is committed at every stage to ensure that no pupil is disadvantaged because they do not have the cultural experience to access the full curriculum and within English, the following key areas are developed:
- A love of the subject and a love of learning is fostered through interactive and inspirational displays, a range of teaching resources and strategies, enrichment and cross-curricular links, and a visible staff love of the subject evident across the department.
- Careers provision and aspiration is linked to a number of schemes of work, for example, when year 8 study Women in Literature, they are also given the project of studying famous and inspirational females. They present on a female they find particularly inspiring. Also within this unit, students study non-fiction texts and are able to write speeches, formal letters, and articles, with links being made to real life situations and scenarios. A link is also made here to journalism club and debating club/public speaking.
- When students study Paper 2 Language they are exposed to a wide range of texts and topics. Students read about interesting or unusual jobs, inspirational figures, and current events in society. When students study Paper 1 Language they are taught the skills to write creatively. There is an opportunity for students to meet authors and others working in creative fields.
- To develop character, students study a wide range of texts from different time periods and of cultural or historical significance. They are exposed to these texts and also given the platform to form their own opinions and ideas and to share them with an audience. Public speaking and debate club allow for students to present their ideas on these topics.
- In English, we offer a number of trips and curriculum based visits. A number of these trips are solely for our disadvantaged pupils. For example, in year 7, pupils visit a local book shop. In year 8, they take part in a shared reading experience with Formby Library and a local primary school. They also take part in a cinema visit intended to inspire their creative writing.
- In years 9 and 10, pupils take part in a Macbeth workshop and also watch live performances of Macbeth, A Christmas Carol, and An Inspector Calls. In years 10 and 11, pupils also take part in ‘masterclasses’ and workshops for each scheme of work.
- Extra-curricular clubs offered by the English department include film club, journalism club, debate club, and a creative writing club (see appendix 3). Alongside the extra-curricular clubs, we also offer revision for years 10 and 11 (see appendix 4). This takes place before school starts, at lunch, and after school. Support is also offered to students from all year groups, including paired reading opportunities for years 7 and 8.
- Literacy skills are a key component of accessing all curriculum areas. In English, skills are developed through the use of a SPAG focus for every lesson, whether it be English Language or Literature. Students are given the opportunity to produce extended written responses, as well as reading whole texts as a class reader and texts of their own choice. This is particularly evident in the provision for years 7 and 8 where students have a reading lesson once a fortnight.
- Reading skills are also monitored and supported through reading lessons which take place once a fortnight for year 7 and 8 pupils. This data is tracked and intervention is provided for students whose reading age is below their chronological age. Students are also given the opportunity to read one-on-one with staff in reading lessons, with students regarded as needing ‘urgent intervention’ and disadvantaged pupils taking priority for this.
- The catch-up strategy also supports pupils in years 7-9 with reading and supports exam readiness and engagement with reading.
- All lessons compose elements of reading, writing, and speaking and listening. Students are taught key terms and vocabulary before beginning their unit of work. This helps to support pupils who have less cultural capital.
- Disadvantaged pupils’ access to this provision is monitored carefully in order to support those whose cultural gap may be wider. Many of these strategies are outlined in our Pupil Premium Action Plan (see appendix 5), including tracking and monitoring after every PIP entry, small-group and one-to-one intervention with the department’s Pupil Premium Lead and also with the Pupil Premium Intervention teacher.
The personal development curriculum embraces the strands of Citizenship, Personal, Health and Social Education (PHSE), Careers Education and Guidance (CEAG) and Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) educational policies. In English, the personal development of pupils is supported by:
- Workshops with theatre companies.
- Enrichment opportunities and visits.
- Workshops with local authors and poets.
- The opportunity to take part in national competitions, such as the National Theatre Playwriting Competition and The Foyle Young Poet of the Year Award.
- Author talks.
- Supporting SEND and disadvantaged pupils to access extra-curricular and enrichment opportunities through opportunities for these targeted groups, for example, all Pupil Premium trips are covered by the school Pupil Premium fund.
- Monitoring trips that are open to all pupils to ensure SEND and disadvantaged pupils are accessing these opportunities, for example, arrangements for the workshops and access to Pupil Premium funding to cover any costs incurred.
- Exposure to texts about different career paths, jobs, and inspirational figures.
- Interactive and inspirational displays.
- Exposure to texts from different time periods and different cultures.
- Linking college visits with study of English Language Paper 2: producing leaflets about different colleges or speeches on their chosen college.
- Opportunities to creatively explore feelings and emotions.
- Opportunities to improve speaking and listening skills by engaging in debates on current affairs and topics.
- Opportunities to develop Leadership through the Pupil Librarian and Literacy Leaders Enrichment Programme.
Mrs C Thomas- Director of Learning
Miss J Wasilew – Assistant Diretor of Learning and English Pupil Premium Co-ordinator
Mrs S Whittaker – Teacher of English /Assistant Headteacher
Mrs D Bloom – Subject Leader for Drama
Mrs C West – Teacher of English
Mr T Meakin – Teacher of English
Mrs S Martland – English Teacher / Literacy Co-Ordinator
Mrs M Mc Manus – Teacher of English
Mrs V Crompton – Teacher of English / Media Studies
Mrs H Tees – Teacher of English