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.
Y7 students have a broad diet of literature over the year, from canonical texts such as ‘A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream’ and ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, to more contemporary writing such as Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’. Over the year we aim to introduce the students to the key skills requisite for their transition to secondary school English, such as analytical writing with a focus on the effect of key quotations.
Students also have ample opportunity to respond to texts creatively, with two creative writing units encouraging students to write in genre – the spooky Gothic unit in Term 1, and the Detective Fiction unit in Term 3. Students are encouraged to be ambitious and adventurous in their descriptive language and begin sharing their work confidently. The combination of analysis and creativity is found in our Poetry unit, where students consider Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ before writing and performing their own spoken word writing.
This emphasis on confidence is further developed in the final term where we shift to a non-fiction focus. Students develop their oracy in Term 5 where they write persuasive speeches and pitches, with a focus on what makes powerful non-fiction writing. Finally, students consider autobiographical writing. Students also have weekly Library lessons for silent reading.
Students’ learning will be supported by homework on ‘Bedrock Vocabulary’ – an online programme that helps develop literacy and vocabulary. This is continued in Year 8.
In Term 1, students revisit the genre of autobiographical writing by studying ‘Coming to England’ by Floella Benjamin. This text serves as a springboard for exploring the Windrush, and allows for exploration and reflection of identity and community.
In Term 2 we study Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, allowing students to embed their understanding of Gothic writing, this time from an analytical perspective.
Term 3 focuses on narrative structure through examining a diverse range of short stories. Students will apply these techniques to their own pieces of creative writing.
Students then move on to Poetry in Term 4. Again, this unit offers a diverse range of writers, styles, and forms of poetry with a focus on more contemporary voices.
In the penultimate term, students study the play version of ‘Noughts and Crosses’, before finishing Year 8 with a non-fiction focus on Journalistic writing. This unit again considers differences in audience and purpose, from sports writing to news reports. As in Year 7, students have weekly Library lessons and homework on ‘Bedrock Vocabulary’.
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.
Step Up To English | Level: Gold/Sliver | Key stage 4
In Year 9, students will complete Silver Step of the Step-Up to English qualification. Step up to English is an Entry Level course which helps students build relevant literacy skills. Students will develop the skills they need to read and understand a range of texts as well as to write clearly, consistently and accurately using a range of vocabulary and sentence structures. Students will complete three topic based assessments based on topics decided by AQA.
In Year 10, students will complete Gold Step of the Step-Up to English qualification. Step up to English is an Entry Level course which helps students build relevant literacy skills. Students will develop the skills they need to read and understand a range of texts as well as to write clearly, consistently and accurately using a range of vocabulary and sentence structures. Students will complete three topic based assessments based on topics decided by AQA.
In Year 11, students will complete any of the units from Gold Step of Step-Up to English which they may not have completed in year 10. Once students have passed this qualification they will follow a bespoke revision programme to enhance their English Literature GCSE qualification.
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
Students' study of English 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.