At Brakenhale School we recognise the benefits of having an English curriculum which has been planned and sequenced in order to provide the stepping stones for students to reach and exceed their potential. We follow the National Curriculum in full, often going beyond, such as: in our drive to forge links with other subjects and how we use seminal texts to inform our learners’ journeys. Our students thrive through their confidence in being able to form links and respond creatively and critically to a wealth of stimuli: from Greek and Norse mythology to the ever-evolving language of social media in the 21st Century. Additionally, the curriculum offers students a safe environment to explore their opinions and feelings towards a range of important and sometimes uncomfortable themes such as climate change, child poverty, social injustice, prejudice, bereavement and urban life, thus aiding the development of emotional literacy.
The necessity for a broad, balanced and ambitious English curriculum is fundamental to successful student outcomes and at Brakenhale our curriculum, along with our ‘can do’ expectation, facilitates ‘rapid progress’ (Ofsted 2019) which is sustained and developed further across Years 7, 8 and 9. With its foundations firmly planted in our knowledge of the Key Stage 2 curriculum, and the high expectations of our primary colleagues mirrored by our own, the KS3 curriculum builds on the prior learning of our students so that there are ‘no wasted years’. We have reflected on our KS4 curriculum and, to allow us to reach the depth of exploration we feel is needed, we will be running Year 9 as a bridging year – straddling KS3 with KS4. Consequently, our students continue to reap the success of this in their GCSE results and at KS5 but also are secure in their literacy skills to access all other subjects of employment.
Alongside the AQA GCSE specification the English department offers AQA Functional Skills; this is a gateway qualification and can be used towards preparation for the English Language GCSE. It aims to ensure learners can communicate with confidence and offers excellent preparation for life beyond the school gates.
The English curriculum is an inclusive journey covering a breadth of diverse texts, techniques and skills in order to:
– equip all students with the functional skills and cultural capital necessary to support them in life and to allow them to enjoy independence,
– ensure students have a wide vocabulary, understanding of grammar and a knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language,
– promote critical thinking, develop empathy and have the emotional literacy to meet the challenges of being a global citizen in the 21st Century,
– give students the academic writing and comprehension skills to prepare them for further study at KS4, and to access the opportunities this affords at KS5 and beyond.
The English curriculum affords students the time and space to consider and revise interpretation and expression, and to develop their writing skills through a scaffolded and modelled approach. Students can communicate with clarity and coherence using language appropriate for purpose and audience as well as individual expression when thinking, reading and writing. If the ‘overarching aim for English in the National Curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping students with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment’ then our curriculum both meets and exceeds that expectation.
Tutor Reading Programmes
Books and stories allow us to explore this world, and others, and the people in it.
At Brakenhale we will provide all students with a safe, supported place to read across a variety of genres, writers and perspectives and this program allows all students the opportunity to read.
Reading helps build our literacy and literacy helps us to build our understanding of the world and our place in it.
Literacy helps us to form ideas and express ourselves. This helps us to become active citizens of the world.
At school, literacy helps us unlock information in each and every subject area. This knowledge will unlock doors for us in the future.
Outside the school gates, literacy helps us to communicate effectively in this diverse world, fill out forms correctly and other such paperwork that is intrinsically part of our everyday adult lives.
Learners with low literacy skills may have difficulty understanding ‘road signs or price labels, making sense of bus or train timetables, filling out forms, reading instructions on medicines or using the internet’. Without the knowledge or ability to complete such tasks, one may well struggle in life.
The National Literacy Trust
Tutors will read with their tutor group three times a week. In advance Tutors will read each chapter before reading to students so that they know where the plot is taking them and are aware of the themes that present themselves. In this way they can put in place support for discussion and individual student needs. This may include writing key vocabulary on the board and discussing any tricky vocabulary that presents itself, as well as addressing the themes that arise too.
Each student should have their own book and will read along using their bookmarks. There will also be an accompanying PowerPoint to help students track page numbers, plot and themes and the tutor will refer to this.