How is English taught at Norlington?
Our aim is to provide an open learning space that will grow students into confident and effective communicators. At Norlington this is done through our varied curriculum.
Students are taught to explore big ideas through a wide range of texts and designed units of work, that will develop their reading, writing and spoken language skills to think and debate critically at GCSE, A Level and beyond.
There is full coverage of the National Curriculum at KS3, with a consistent focus on oracy. Students initially learning how to identify composition of stories and poems, features of characters and purpose of writers. This stage teaches them how to apply writers’ techniques, explore viewpoints and think of what and how big ideas might apply to certain texts.
The end of KS3 develops confidence in exploring fiction and non-fiction forms; expands analysis of genre and critical perspectives with social, cultural and historical context; and increases understanding in applying specific writer’s techniques. These skills equip our students to confidently approach GCSE. We offer an inclusive KS4 pathway that sees students gaining GCSEs in English Language, English Literature, as well as Functional Skills.
At KS5, building upon the knowledge of genre and increasing the development of critical thinking skills, students undertake the study of ‘Aspects of tragedy’ and ‘Elements of social and political protest writing’ as an A Level course.
What do we do to aid this in class?
Reading is at the forefront of our engagement approach in teaching and assessing English and allows students to think about the ‘big ideas’ and how they might be applied to the study of this subject. We understand that creating more engagement time enhances their reading, writing and spoken language skills, and support this through reading and library lessons at KS3, accompanied with Literacy lessons in Year 7.
This approach is aimed at developing confidence in students to recognise ‘where they are at’ and advance their independence in understanding ‘what they need to do to improve’.
This is done through the organisation of students’ exercise books to include cycle front sheets that outline key skills, key words, key resources and challenge tasks; feedback sheets with focused targets; and assessment tracker sheets that for KS3 follow the Norlington learning hierarchy, and for GCSE or A Level, specific assessment criteria.
Our curriculum aligns with whole school assessment policy by implementing formative and summative tasks. Assessment supports our reading approach through placing the formative at the beginning of cycles to ensure full engagement with texts. This arrangement not only measures progress with a summative task at the end of the cycle but also helps to determine how much they have learned from previous units or years.
Confidence and independence is at the forefront of our assessment approach, and is how we measure success at the end of a unit. We fully appreciate that assessment is instrumental in monitoring progress, however, as a subject that is not knowledge based, we understand that there can be some anxiety in not being able to find the ‘correct answer’. As a skills-based subject, careful thought has gone into the types of assessment we provide, aiding preparation through task specific planning and answer structures. We ensure that we deliver assessments that enable students to demonstrate their skills repeatedly in different contexts and for different purposes and audiences.
How does extra-curricular support English?
English provides the opportunity for a range of extra-curricular activities to complement what students are learning through theatre trips and external workshops, and within school through ‘Debate Mate’, Jack Petchey’s ‘Speak Out’ Challenge and a Sixth Form reading club that provides extra support for KS3 students.
How does English support whole school learning?
At Norlington, every teacher is an English teacher. Every subject provides the opportunity for students to be able to:
- read a wide range of texts fluently and with good understanding
- apply subject specific structures in their own writing to demonstrate good understanding
- write effectively and coherently using Standard English appropriately
- acquire and apply a wide vocabulary in reading, writing and spoken language, to be used in other subjects, where appropriate
What can you do to aid English?
Parents and carers can help children progress in English by encouraging them to read for pleasure every day and by discussing their reading with them. Links and recommendations are provided under the ‘wider reading’ section to enrich their study of English and to help them engage with what is being taught at school. These additional resources can also be found on the front sheets, accompanying what students are learning, whilst also providing an excellent starting point for stretch and challenge.
Students are taught in ability sets from Year 8
Students study the Edexcel course for GCSE English Language and Functional Skills, and AQA course for GCSE and A Level English Literature