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‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit’ (Aristotle)
All teachers within the English Department at Birkdale High School passionately believe that developing students’ reading, writing and discussion skills will support them in all of their subjects across the curriculum, as well as in later life.
We aim to develop critical and analytical readers who are able to unpick a writer’s motivations, viewpoint and possible agenda. We want students to recognise the links in their GCSE texts to previous units that they have studied, realising that allusions in canonical texts can enrich our understanding. We also aim to develop our students as writers who can confidently express their viewpoint and express themselves imaginatively and expressively.
In The Foundation Stage our curriculum is knowledge driven, with students encountering a diverse range of challenging texts and genres. We place a strong emphasis on direct instruction of tier two vocabulary as well as the metacognitive processes of reading. We also strive to develop students’ writing accuracy and stamina through regular writing challenges.
Reading skills: to read challenging texts, make inferences and consider the writer’s motivations.
Writing skills: to write accurately, imaginatively and in a style that is fit for purpose.
Speaking and listening skills: to be able to articulate opinions clearly and confidently.
Developing empathy and tolerance: through our choice of texts to be studied, we hope to challenge stereotypes that our boys might hold and in doing so develop their empathy for others.
From our first unit in year seven – Origin Stories- we ensure that all students are familiar with common allusions that they will encounter in texts that they study in the future: these stories include iconic tales from both the bible and mythology. We do not assume that our boys will have knowledge of all these key allusions so teach them explicitly to form a solid basis for moving forwards.
Through our choice of Literature texts, we ensure that we cover a range of iconic and well known writers: Shakespeare, Orwell, Steinbeck, Dickens, Russell. Ensuring our students have a good knowledge of these texts supports their understanding of significant cultural references.
We explicitly teach key tier two vocabulary that is assigned to each unit to ensure that we are addressing the closing of the word gap. All students in years 7-9 have access to the online Bedrock vocabulary programme to support in their vocabulary development. We also use Epic Reading to encourage students to read for pleasure and give access to reading materials.
All English classrooms have a visualiser which our teachers use to model for our students, therefore scaffolding more challenging curriculum content so that it is accessible to all.
In the Foundation Stage classes are mixed ability to ensure that all get to see what ‘excellence’ looks and sounds like. This also ensures that students adopt more of a growth mindset and focus on improvement as opposed to feeling labeled.
All students at Examination Stage study two GCSEs in English: Language and Literature.
Each unit has a Knowledge Organiser and a tier two vocabulary table. These can be used as tools to support SEND or Disadvantaged students.
|Foundation Stage - Years 7, 8 & 9||Examination Stage - Years 10 & 11|
|7 hours per cycle |
|GCSE English Language (AQA) |
GCSE English Literature (AQA)
8 hours per cycle
Two separate teachers
|Curriculum Leader - Mrs Tipping |
Deputy Curriculum Leader - Mrs Keating
|Teacher of English - Mrs Weir (SENDCo) |
Teacher of English - Mr Duncan
Teacher of English - Miss Ferguson
Teacher of English - Mrs Follett
Teacher of English - Ms Hunter
Teacher of English - Mrs Potter
|Year 7 Curriculum Map||Autumn Term||Spring Term||Summer Term|
THRESHOLD CONCEPT: knowledge of key allusions and appreciation of how writers use allusions
|Gothic: An Anthology|
THRESHOLD CONCEPT: narrative structures
‘In the sea there are crocodiles’|
Procedural Knowledge: What, where, how, why analytical paragraphs - building
|Assessment||Baseline Comparative Marking National Project for writing.||Tracking point one: comparatively marked descriptive piece, multiple choice core knowledge.||Tracking point two:|
|Year 8 Curriculum Map||Autumn Term||Spring Term||Summer Term|
THRESHOLD CONCEPT: MACHIAVELLIAN RULER/ CORRUPTION OF POWER REVISITING - Procedural Knowledge:
|Poetry Anthology: Marginalised voices|
REVISITING - Procedural Knowledge: What, where, how, why analytical paragraphs
|Novel: Animal Farm
THRESHOLD CONCEPT: Symbolism REVISITING - Procedural Knowledge: What, where, how, why analytical paragraphs