(School Production of Hamlet)
Approach to Teaching
Our English department believes in fostering a love of literature through innovative, engaging teaching. We demand a high standard of work and behaviour from all our pupils, but believe in reward they will achieve outstanding results which will enable them to fulfil their potential both in higher education and their careers.
Our lessons are designed to encourage our learners through discussion, engaging texts which stimulate interest and developing their vocabulary and ability to express themselves in a variety of forms and for a variety of purposes. We explore poetry, contemporary and classic literature and also link to our sister subjects of Media and Film Studies through a wide ranging curriculum at KS3. We encourage pupil’s creativity and independence, allowing them to become more resilient learners in preparation for the rigour of KS4.
Head of Department Joe Were is the only Specialist Leader of Education for Secondary English in the city and has worked with schools across the Portsmouth area to raise attainment. He also co-chairs the Portsmouth Teaching School Alliance Secondary PEN Meetings and believes that every child the department have the pleasure of teaching learns to love literature through the dynamic and engaging lessons that the English department deliver everyday.
Within English we use a variety of Assessment for Learning strategies to empower our pupils and ensure accelerated progress is made. Two of the most effective are half time targets and 'feeding forwards'.
Half time targets allow pupils to stop mid-way through a task and reflect on what they need to do in order to improve. This can either be self or peer assessed, and involves pupils using the lesson's WILFs to produce a SMART target that is then re-assessed when the task is finished. Reflecting on a task at the mid-point means that our pupils in English are constantly reflecting on what they need to do in order to progress.
Feeding forward allows pupils to re-draft prior work and rectify any caveats that may have arisen. Pupils re-write one paragraph from previous work, implementing feedback from their teacher to improve it. This means as teachers we know that our feedback will be taken on board, and that the pupils will show this in their work instantly, accelerating progress and meaning similar errors will not occur again.
Key Stage 3 (Year 7-9)
Our KS3 curriculum is designed to provide optimum creativity for both pupil and teacher – books taught are from a list that has been curated from our own love of literature rather than just two of three texts or those that are not being taught at KS4 (like some schools). Pupils develop an ability to read and write a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, building a repertoire of skills to ready them for the rigour of KS4. These include whole novels (rather than extracts), Shakespeare, 19th century Literature, Poetry, Articles, Pamphlets and other non-fiction texts as well as looking at more diverse approaches to English through multi-media and film.
We encourage pupils to develop a more ambitious and sophisticated vocabulary and punctuation and use assessments which foreshadow the line of questioning they will encounter in KS4. The final KS3 assessment ascertains their ability in creative writing and comparing Power and Conflict Poetry, readying them for the more strenuous work of KS4.
Key Stage 4 (Year 10 & 11)
Pupils follow the AQA English Literature GCSE in Yr 10 (8702) and AQA English Language (8700) in Year 11.
The English Literature course has five components.
Paper 1 looks at Shakespeare and 19th Century Literature.
Paper 2 discusses the Modern Novel, Power and Conflict Poetry and Unseen Poetry.
Pupils begin the Power and Conflict Poetry at Easter in Year 9, and then work through the Modern Novel and Unseen Poetry before Christmas. They then sit their first mock, following this with Shakespeare and the 19th Century Lit in the Spring before the exams are sat in May of the following year. Pupils are required for these closed book exams to have revised key quotations, socio-historical context and plot/narrative for one Shakespeare play, one 19th Century novel, one Modern novel and 15 Power and Conflict poems. The novels and plays will differ depending on which class your child is in. They will also need to know how to analyse and compare poetry they have ever seen before, using skills built throughout KS3 and KS4.
The exams are weighted 40% for Shakespeare and 19th Century Lit and 60% Modern Novel, Power and Conflict Poetry and Unseen Poetry in terms of the final GCSE grade.
The English Language course in Yr 11 consists of two papers – Explorations in Creative Writing and Writing from Perspective.
Both papers consist of a Section A (answering four questions on sources provided) and a Section B (writing either creatively or about a particular perspective). These exams test pupil’s ability to infer, analyse structure and language, compare sources as well as their ability to write to different forms and audiences using a wide ranging vocabulary and high level of spelling and grammatical accuracy.
Both these papers are weighted 50% in terms of the final GCSE grade.