At Stoke Newington School, the English department prides itself in supporting students in both a creative and purposeful environment where they feel safe to express their ideas, and to challenge themselves to try their best. Teachers are committed to engaging and supporting all students, irrespective of their background or prior attainment. Through reading, writing and debating, our aim is for students to develop inquisitive and critical minds, to take pleasure in reading, and to develop empathy and understanding of others. Moreover, we want students to be suitably equipped and confident, knowing how to use both written and spoken language to empower themselves for an exciting and promising future.
English at Key Stage 3
We start Key Stage 3 in English with a memorable and exciting experience bringing Shakespeare to life through a whole year group performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We continue by reading a range of high quality, engaging and challenging literature which reflects our community. Our curriculum is designed to ensure that pupils read whole texts because we recognise the importance of students being given the opportunity to immerse themselves in a text, to develop their own interpretations, and to explore layers of meaning.
We teach in mixed ability groups throughout Key Stage 3 with support and appropriate levels of challenge for students who need it. Lessons are varied, encompassing: discussion, imaginative writing, oracy and performance. In Year 9 we focus on the skills required for GCSE whilst keeping a broad and relevant curriculum. To help encourage reading for pleasure, students spend one lesson a fortnight in the library where they can choose books to take home.
Over the course of the year students will study A Midsummer Night’s Dream to develop their reading skills, in particular, the use of quotations. We aid the transition between KS2 and KS3 and help students cope better with their transition to secondary school. Students also practise their spoken English skills and the whole year group is involved in a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Students will read Coraline and practise their creative writing skills based on what they have learnt from Neil Gaiman’s writing.
In term 2 students develop their knowledge of poetry by studying ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ and a variety of other poems. We also introduce students to a wide range of short stories based around detective fiction to develop their reading and writing skills.
Term 3 will see students focus on fiction (Roald Dahl’s writing for children, for adults and about himself) and non-fiction (writing speeches and reviews).
In term 1 students study 'Creative Writing – London', in which pupils will explore a range fiction extracts centred around London - particularly The Windrush and Dickensian London.
In term 2 they study Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and will develop their skills of anlaysing the writer's craft, focussing on structure. Students will learn about the context in which this novel was written and apply this to the novel. We also look at poetry. Students will read a wide range of poems from different literary periods and focus on language analysis and their own personal response.
In term 3 students will read and respond to the play version of Noughts and Crosses. Students will explore the characters and stage craft and the moral issues of the novel/play. We will also introduce students to the world of journalism. Focuses on giving students the opportunity to work as part of a team and writing a variety of journalistic type texts based on topical issues in sport.
English at Key Stage 4
Our varied and challenging Key Stage 4 course equips students with the skills and knowledge they need in order to achieve both their English Language and English Literature GCSE qualifications, for which our exam board is AQA.
Over the Literature course, all students will study Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, J.B Priestley’s An Inspector Calls and a range of poetry from the AQA Power & Conflict anthology. In doing so, students are encouraged to explore not just how writers craft their language to convey meanings, but also how the themes and issues of these texts can be related to from a modern perspective.
For Language, students will learn to read a range of fiction and non-fiction texts critically, as well as to develop their own creative and journalistic writing skills. Alongside this, students complete a Spoken Language assessment in order to help develop their confidence in public speaking.
English at Key Stage 5
At A-Level, we believe in a daring, original approach to literature, encouraging students to read diverse, mature and often challenging texts from the canon and beyond. We believe in discussion based learning that allows students to develop their own interpretations of texts, examining how writers create meaning, and how these ideas remain relevant to our world today.
Our diverse approach encourages original ideas about texts and the contexts in which they were written to give students an appreciation of how literature has developed over time. We want students to develop deeper thinking as well as crafting of written responses through in-class writing and coursework.
Using the OCR Exam Board, our A-Level literature programme aims to build on reading and writing skills developed at GCSE. We expect students to read widely and independently because we want to see our students leaving us with the ability to be confident and successful at the next stage of life, whether that be in higher education or the world of work
We understand that students often thrive best when their learning is also an experience. Therefore, we endeavour to provide a range of enrichment opportunities, from Year 7 through to Year 13. These include:
- experiencing Shakespeare in performance
- theatre trips
- using drama to engage with texts
- visiting a local nature reserve to help inspire creative writing
- increased use of project-based homework
- writing competitions (in school and national)
- opportunities for KS5 students to mentor English students in KS3/4
- Writing for real life audiences
- Revision sessions
Career and future pathways
Their study of English at the school will leave pupils confident in their ability to express themselves, both in speech and writing. In addition, over the seven years here, their social, cultural and historical understanding will have been enriched by the wealth and variety of literature and topics studied and discussed on a daily basis.