English at St James's
Language is liberating. Though based on a set of guiding principles, it is by its nature fluid, evolving with time, manipulated for purpose and employed for deliberate effect. English at St James’s is intent on empowering students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to interpret, interrogate and create both fiction and non-fiction texts – recognising that behind each word is a writer afforded the liberty of language.
Key Stage 3
Pupils study English for three hours each week in Year 7 including one designated literacy lesson for Year 7. This is led by our school librarian and is focused upon providing specific support to enhance pupils’ reading proficiencies and further promote a love of reading.
Pupils study English for three hours a week in Year 8 and four hours a week in Year 9.
Pupils follow a carefully sequenced KS3 curriculum that allows them to see and practise ‘What Makes a Good’ English student in each of our key areas: Speak Like; Write Like; Act Like; Read Like; Think Like. In addition, our Medium Term Plans outline key knowledge that will be acquired in each scheme of learning, supporting pupils in building their literary and linguistic knowledge in preparation for their study of English both at GCSE level and beyond.
We prioritise the reading of challenging academic texts exposing students to a canon of literature that encompasses the traditional and contemporary; local and imported; prose, drama and poetry. It is our aim to support students in recognising that all texts are relevant in their exploration of universal themes. Furthermore, that, as readers, they too are connected to these themes, promoting their personal responses and enabling our pupils to ‘see themselves in what they read’. Our genre approach allows pupils to explore the literary, social, historical, political and cultural contexts of texts whilst also encouraging pupils to make connections within and across the literary timeline, recognising influences. Pupils are also exposed to non-fiction texts that are thematically/contextually linked enhancing their knowledge of form.
Using our reading as a source of both inspiration and instruction, our curriculum supports pupils in developing clarity and control as writers but also to practise the art of crafting, addressing a range of forms. Pupils are given opportunities to experiment with their use or manipulation of convention when writing creatively and establishing tone when writing with a particular viewpoint. Technical accuracy is an expectation and we dedicate curriculum time to supporting pupils in developing their accurate and effective use of spelling, punctuation and grammar.
Pupils are provided with regular, precise feedback both verbally and through teacher marking. Pupils are assessed against our ‘What Makes a Good’ criteria with bespoke mark schemes designed to identify pupils’ strengths and next steps.
In addition to our KS3 curriculum, a very small group of targeted pupils complete the AQA Step Up to English qualification in Year 9 (some in Y10 for 2021-22 only) where they are supported in acquiring knowledge and skills to enhance their literacy skills and to support their preparation to the GCSE curriculum.
Key Stage 4
We begin KS4 in Year 10 where pupils will have four hours per week in both Year 10 and 11. All pupils will sit GCSE examinations in English Language and English Literature at the end of Year 11. We follow the AQA Specification for both English Language and English Literature with current nominated texts for GCSE being: An Inspector Calls; A Christmas Carol; Romeo and Juliet and the Power and Conflict poetry anthology. Our pupils have been incredibly successful at GCSE and the department has achieved excellent results year on year.