In English at Ashlyns, we aim to develop the skills and knowledge that will build confident, articulate readers, writers, and speakers, able to engage with and analyse a broad range of diverse and challenging texts. We want our students to be perceptive, critical thinkers, who are able to overcome challenges and obstacles, and who enjoy engaging with the written and spoken word and understand the power of literature and what literature of all types can teach us. Our curriculum is engaging and creative, encouraging and inspiring equality and diversity. It aims to stretch and challenge our students’ skills, knowledge and understanding at all levels.
Key Stage 3
Our aims at KS3 are to further a love of reading and to engage our students with a variety of text types. We want to give students the skills to tackle all types and genres of writing and the knowledge to appreciate them, while being able to ask critical and informed questions of what they are reading. Students build on skills developed in KS2 through a thematic approach and are challenged to consider different viewpoints from their own. A core part of KS3 is in using texts to develop respect and equality, while exploring different perspectives.
Students study how a variety of authors communicate ideas and information through their choice of vocabulary, sentence structure and punctuation. The texts studied include: historical myths and legends from around the world, poetry, newspaper articles, and modern novels. Our choice of ‘War Horse’ as a Year 7 novel aims to build knowledge and understanding of narrative structure and perspective, whilst ‘Coram Boy’ for the Year 7 novel is to engage students with our local heritage through building an understanding of past cultures. These skills are then embedded into the students’ work as they build their creative and transactional writing expertise.
The skills gained in Year 7 are further built on and expanded through the students’ study of a range of challenging texts including Shakespeare and two modern novels. Woven through these schemes are: nineteenth century extracts; a short film unit; poetry; non fiction extracts and creative writing. The students begin to look at bias, reliable narrators, point of view and to further their ability to challenge their understanding of the world. The Year 8 novels, ‘The Other Side of Truth’ and ‘Fat Boy Swim’, are chosen to work with our overall aims of building respect and understanding of diversity through exploring a range of societal issues.
We engage our Year 9 students through their study of a Shakespeare play, modern novel and a range of poetry from different periods and locations around the world. They also look at a variety of non-fiction extracts as well as a short media unit – these both help to build their transactional writing skills. This school year enables the students to consolidate the English skills that they have attained over their time in KS3, implicitly giving them the skills needed for their GCSEs whilst still nurturing a love of the written word.
Key Stage 4
Students build on core skills and knowledge developed in KS3, including in writing, analysis, and critical thinking. We deliver the AQA specifications in English Language and English Literature, and students sit both qualifications.
Over the two years of KS4, students continue to develop their understanding of the world, of historical context, and of the English literary canon through the study of core texts such as ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘Macbeth.’ The work done in KS3 on the appreciation and analysis of writers’ craft are developed fully in KS4, allowing students to engage with and understand challenging texts. Students develop the knowledge and skills needed to become insightful, critical students of English Language and Literature at A level and beyond.
Key Stage 5
At KS5, students are given the opportunity to broaden and develop analysis and interpretation skills to their fullest. We aim to produce insightful, articulate, resilient students of English who are equipped for further study at university and in the wider context.
Students are given the option of studying the Eduqas specification for English Literature or the AQA specification for English Language and Literature.
In both subjects, students enjoy engaging with a wide array of texts, from John Donne and Shakespeare to Carol Ann Duffy, Philip Larkin, and Tennessee Williams. The level of independence required in English, alongside guidance of where you can take English further into employment, means many of our English students decide to pursue the subject at higher education establishments after achieving fantastic results at A-Level.
Learning beyond the classroom
Students have the opportunity to engage in a wide and exciting array of English -related activities beyond the classroom. The Learning Resource Centre is a lively hub of activity, with a full calendar of author visits, Harry Potter-themed after school events, murder mystery afternoons, spooky Halloween readings by members of teaching staff, quizzes, and much, much more. The English department offers theatre trips, visits to Poetry Live, and other events. Our Youth Speaks teams are successful year after year, often reaching the Regional Finals, and our learning ambassadors regularly deliver English lessons to our local primary schools building links to the wider community.