Theme of the week is: The environment: local, national and international
In English, our curriculum is designed, across the three key stages, to introduce and build upon a clear understanding of literature through the ages, whilst instilling a cultural, social and analytical understanding of written and spoken language.
Our curriculum across all three key stages promotes challenge and encourages our students to question and explore the world they live in, through a broad range of different texts and perspectives. We encourage students to be critical of the texts they read and to understand that authors have a specific viewpoint and purpose. We train students in the application of knowledge to real world contexts.
Our curriculum is structured broadly chronologically with related thematic focuses. Through this, the key skills are introduced, developed and applied consistently across a wide range of topics. As a result, students develop an understanding of how literature has developed over time and how society and literature interact.
Students’ knowledge is regularly assessed across all key stages through low stakes testing. This promotes retention and enables students to make links to previous learning as they move up the school, further developing their understanding of the world around them. Skills are assessed formatively, regularly, and the data is used to inform classroom practice and intervention, ensuring all students make progress.
We provide many opportunities for students to further develop their engagement with language and culture: we run reading clubs at lunchtimes to promote reading for pleasure; creative writing clubs after school to further develop students’ love of language; a film club to develop students’ application of skills in another context; a very successful Burnet News Club, which promotes criticality and writing skills; and a debate club, which encourages discussion and debate on key cultural and societal issues.
Our KS3 curriculum has been designed to provide a breadth of knowledge, enrich cultural capital and develop a criticality when reading texts in a variety of contexts. Students study texts ranging from Ancient Sumerian and Greek, through Renaissance and the Enlightenment, to postmodern texts, including Atwood and Morrison.
At KS3, the learning is focused on development of reading and writing skills that are imperative in life, beyond the world of school. This is driven through Literature and built on the work undertaken at primary feeder schools, who we work closely with to ensure our curriculums secure progression and continuity for our students. In this way, we can maximise the learning potential through building on prior knowledge and skills, as opposed to just repeating it. The literature texts are used to introduce students to a variety of critical readings, including Post-colonial and Feminist perspectives. As the current KS4 syllabus, prescribed by AQA, provides reading options that are predominantly written by white British male authors, we ensure students are exposed to a range of texts at KS3 that will enable them to become more culturally and critically aware of the world around them.
Accelerated Reader is available to all Year 7 students and selected SEND students up to Year 9. This instils a love of reading, develops students’ comprehension skills and creates a competitive aspect to the course. In addition, across KS3, every lesson begins with up to 10 minutes of silent reading to encourage reading for pleasure.
The teaching of KS4 begins explicitly at the start of Y10, allowing students both the time and opportunity to develop their understanding of other cultures, perspectives and attitudes and to build on their reading and writing skills and knowledge.
We follow the AQA syllabi and, in Literature, have opted to study Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Golding’s Lord of the Flies, and the Power and Conflict poetry cluster. These texts cover a range of different forms, themes and contexts, whilst sharing some commonalities that allow students to further investigate how literature has shaped and been shaped by societal values throughout history.
Students build on the skills developed throughout KS3, including critical perspectives, such as Psychoanalytical and Marxist readings of the texts. We also draw on work in other departments, through the teaching of religious allusions, history and drama - encouraging students to apply their skills across a range of subjects, as well as just within varying topics in English.
Opportunities to further develop their understanding of the texts they cover are provided through the visit of a touring theatre group, who perform Macbeth (Y11) and A Christmas Carol (Y10) for the whole year group. In addition, students’ understanding of other cultures and communal learning are encouraged through the attendance of the annual Poetry Live! event, which also promotes an appreciation of poetry in its personal form.
KS5 introduces a broadening range of approaches to literature and language, offering English Literature and Film courses at A-level. Text choices are broadened and deepened to allow individualised responses to texts. The Literature course covers texts from Dickens and Shakespeare to Arthur Miller, while Film investigates the form from its beginnings in silent cinema to Inception and Pulp Fiction. Writing and analytical skills are developed from KS4, with a focus across the key stage of developing and applying literary critical and theoretical approaches. These start with developing Feminist and Post-Colonial readings first introduced in KS3, and progresses through to a widening array of readings such as Marxist and Eco-critical in Literature, as well as Auteur and Spectatorship theories in Film.