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“The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest(people) of the past centuries.”

Descartes

Powerful knowledge in English– Why do we teach these concepts?

English is the centre of the curriculum, providing the gateway to all other learning. Knowing how to read and write allows access to the lives we live.  Knowing how to communicate effectively through speaking and listening allows us to better understand ourselves and others.  Knowing and understanding our Literature brings a richness to our lives and allows us to better understand our world.

Reading is at the heart.  We teach students a range of different strategies in which to access texts that can be used through their lives. Students need to be able to read in different ways and understand a range of reading techniques.  We teach students to understand and analyse the ways in which language and structure are important in texts.  We encourage analysis and evaluation so that students can understand how texts are working on them and have opinions on what they read.  Studying a range of Literature gives students a cultural and spiritual framework to engage with their own and others’ ideas.

Students are taught different types of writing in English.  Writing for real world purposes – to argue and persuade for instance - allows students to practise the types of writing they will do throughout their lives.  Creative writing further hones these skills and is an important element of self-expression.  Through writing, students learn to structure ideas for effect and create impact on their audiences. 

Students need to know how to express their ideas aloud, to communicate with each other and assimilate their own thinking.  Knowing how to present ideas to other people is something that is required throughout our lives at work and beyond.  The ability to listen to others, reflect on different voices, and learn from each other, is the basis for any community.

Through all of these disciplines, students will be taught a wider range of vocabulary.  Knowing the words to express thoughts and feelings gives students access to their world and themselves.  It is the gateway to all other learning.

Curriculum Features - How do we embed the learning?

We teach Language skills through Literature, and we encourage students to read whole texts over extracts, to build stronger foundations of understanding and the enjoyment that follows.

We revisit knowledge wherever possible.  This can be through regular low stakes testing, quizzing and review.  We aim to ensure that knowledge is cumulatively embedded, giving room for new concepts to be learnt.  Learning is sequenced in English.  We build on the foundations that heave been learnt before through interleaving topics through a spiral curriculum.

We explicitly teach fluent reading, through peer work and teacher modelling.  Reading for Pleasure lessons are central to our approach in Key Stage 3, involving the shared experience of a whole class text.  We embed this with vocabulary instruction, using effective models to pre-teach difficult vocabulary.  Reading hubs in our academy en-sure that everyone has access to their own books.  We employ a set of protocols before, during and after reading activities to break down barriers to understanding.

Curriculum Enrichment – How do we link with other subjects and offer experiences?

Wherever possible we explicitly draw the link with other subjects.  The skills of argument, justification and evaluation are the same in English and History, and we teach students not only to recognise that, but actively use the same techniques in their responses.  We make the links between Art and English explicit.  Literature is part of wider cultural and artistic thinking that is studied in Art, and creative writing is another form of artistic expression.   

We enrich the curriculum by offering extracurricular activities in our creative writing workshops and our reading groups.  We shadow national events like the Carnegie book award and the Kate Greenaway competition.  We want students to see the drama that they study, organising theatre visits and inviting companies into school to perform.