In English at King Ethelbert School, we aim to create and deliver a broad and balanced curriculum that inspires and fosters a love of English. Students are given opportunities to develop a breadth of knowledge and skills, and to build on previous knowledge. The curriculum aims to be both culturally relevant and globally diverse, and rich in variety, opening students to experiences and ways of thinking that have been previously unfamiliar to them, and therefore building their cultural capital. The curriculum is coherent, logical and sequenced effectively to achieve these aims.
At Key Stage Three, we aim to develop an awareness of the wider value of English, demonstrating that the skills learnt are not just about assessment and passing exams, but about wider interests, passions and opportunities in a global society. There is a greater focus on knowledge and retaining this knowledge than there has been previously, and students are encouraged to be independent learners, taking responsibility for their own development in this subject. Key Stage Three lessons have a clear focus on developing oracy skills and elevating vocabulary. Opportunities for reading texts outside students’ ‘comfort zones’ have been embedded into the curriculum.
At Key Stage Four, we aim to prepare students, not only for examinations, but for the wider world – we encourage consideration of others’ perspectives and viewpoints, through both Language and Literature, and aim to produce students who can articulate their own viewpoints verbally and in writing. Opportunities for discussion ideas and opinions are integrated throughout the course, and teaching topics are current and relevant to students’ own experiences.
Students study a broad range of texts, from the classics to the contemporary, which allows for a diverse curriculum, often raising important questions in life and moral debate while addressing significant historical, social and cultural issues. Areas covered include World War One literature, a unit based on ‘London Life’ which incorporates a range of poetry, non-fiction texts and the classical work of Dickens, and creative and non-fiction writing based on global issues. Students are encouraged to develop their cultural capital with wider reading, experience of live theatre through our affiliation with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the opportunity to have their work published as a result of the many poetry and creative writing competitions we offer. Students are expected to take pride in their work and, as such, all work is expected to be presented to their highest personal standard.
Students study a wide selection of text types to give them a strong foundation in understanding how language is crafted and utilised. They are given opportunities to develop and practise their writing, reading, and oral skills ready for the higher demands of key stages 4 and 5 and life beyond school. A range of non-fiction texts are also studied, preparing students for the practical application of English skills they will need across their lives, including letters, diaries, speeches, and newspapers. Students are encouraged to take an active role in independent learning through our setting of homework research tasks which prepare students for forthcoming lessons and provide context to many of the themes covered within a lesson. We encourage students to consider a range of issues affecting our global community, which include but are not limited to class, gender, animal rights, climate change and power and conflict. Raising these issues within the classroom facilitates respectful and reflective debate in a safe and nurtured environment where difference of opinion is conducive to a well-rounded discussion.
In key stage 4, students are taught both the GCSE English Language course and GCSE English Literature. Through English Literature we expose students to seminal works of English literature such as An Inspector Calls and A Christmas Carol which allows them to appreciate and evaluate the English literary canon in order to understand how ideas and attitudes have shifted across time. Students are also introduced to a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction texts through their GCSE English Language which encourages them to engage with the world around them. As teachers, we share our own literary interests with students to encourage them to take independent interest in reading and writing. Through studying a range of texts we expose students to ideas and values that will support their transition to independent adults. The curriculum covers topics such as conflict, power, gender, poverty, ambition, morality and other challenging ideas that create opportunities for debate and the sharing of opinions. We have high standards of literacy and continue to build on the skills developed at key stage 3, encouraging the use of tier three vocabulary, correct spelling and the use of ambitious and complex punctuation. Students are taught how to write in a variety of different styles (from both formal and informal letters to reviews and reports) with the intention that these skills are transferable into any line of work or further study they may wish to access in the future. We encourage the sharing and challenging of ideas in a safe and comfortable environment, with a particular focus on respecting the views of others. The literature texts studied open up challenging moral dilemmas and provide students with the opportunity to engage in debate and discuss the changing nature of society for either the better or the worse. High standards of work and presentation are encouraged throughout students’ studies to ensure they are able to use their work as a starting point for revision. As well as this, we encourage students to create their own revision resources and attend extra sessions in their own time to develop their initiative and independence
For key stage 5 students are given the opportunity to continue their English studies through the IB English Language and Literature course. This course allows for a broad and diverse curriculum. Students are exposed to a range of non-literary text types (such as advertisements, cartoons and photographs) which are thought provoking and connect to their lived experience of the world. The themes covered through literary texts (such as A Streetcar Named Desire and Maus) often expose students to significant global historical, cultural and social themes. Students are encouraged to make connections with their own experience of the world and engagement is promoted by autonomy of choice e.g. allowing students to shape their own curriculum choices. We teach and promote high levels of communication skills, both across written and oral modes. Students are offered multiple opportunities to develop and test these skills; such as in the Individual Oral task and the Higher Level Essay. This provides excellent grounding for further education at university level, in any subject. We focus on developing knowledge of the world and empathy of a range of different cultural perspectives and viewpoints. One of the literary texts studied has to be a work in translation and is often transformational in terms of students’ understanding of the wider world around them. Through this students become more compassionate and understanding of the world around them. Students’ texts are often centred on ethical and moral issues and we teach students to use critical reading skills in order to understand and interpret these messages.