Westhaven School Subject Strategy – English
Our main intent in teaching English is to encourage a love of reading and to empower our pupils with the confidence and knowledge to communicate confidently in written and spoken form. We want our pupils to be curious about the origins of words, to write creatively, to appreciate different genres of text and to be able to choose the appropriate tone according to audience and purpose when writing or speaking.
Our English curriculum in KS2 is topic-based and linked to the curriculum Learning Quests. We do this to consolidate learning across all subject areas and to give pupils the opportunity to make cross- curricular links. In KS3, the English curriculum remains topic-based, but is linked to texts in line with the National Curriculum genre requirements such as Shakespeare, pre-1914 English literature and post-1945 English poetry. The English scheme of learning at KS3 outlines the genres covered but does not specify texts. We do this so that teachers can choose texts appropriate to their pupils’ ability levels and interests. At KS4, the English curriculum is linked to the qualification studied.
Pupils in KS2 and KS3 are taught in mixed ability tutor groups and have 5 lessons a week. Pupils in KS4 are taught in streamed groups according to the level of qualification they are studying (Entry Level, Functional Skills or GCSE). They have 4 lessons a week in year 10 and 3 lessons a week in year 11.
All strands of English are considered of equal importance at Westhaven. In spoken language, pupils are given the opportunity in KS2 to present their ideas to the class and to take part in group discussions. In KS3, this is built on further and pupils take part in debates and prepare and present formal presentations. We do this because these skills are required for all qualifications offered at KS4.
We are keen advocates of reading for pleasure and encourage all of our pupils to have a book on the go at all times. All pupils have the opportunity to develop their reading in different ways every week. In KS2, pupils have at least three phonics sessions per week, they read to an adult at least once a week, they take part in guided reading and work on their reading detective skills in group work. They also have a reading book to take home every day. At KS3, pupils access phonics sessions according to need and read to an adult at least once a week, all pupils are read to by their tutor twice a week and group reading takes place in English lessons. At KS4, pupils continue to have tutor time reading twice a week and complete reading tasks in line with their qualification. All pupils have access to the school library, the lunchtime library club and our reading volunteer programme where appropriate.
Writing is central to our curriculum at Westhaven. Pupils work towards gaining their Westhaven Pen Licence by producing neat, cursive handwriting consistently. Teachers in KS2 and teaching teams in KS3 and KS4 monitor the standard of handwriting across the curriculum so that it is consistent in all subjects. Pupils are reminded of their focus in English (e.g. commas in lists) and encourage pupils to use these correctly in other subjects. In KS2, pupils produce writing based on their topic-linked reading book. The main focus is on securing correct pencil grip, letter formation and forming sentences correctly. Teachers model written work and pupils produce their own work based on this. Most work produced in KS2 is under the genre “writing to describe” but some pupils are introduced to the “writing to inform” genre. In KS3, teachers continue to model written work and pupils use the skills introduced at KS2 to produce extended writing in a variety of genres: writing to persuade, describe, explain and inform. They are taught the differences between formal and informal writing and use presentational devices in their work. We do this because at KS4, pupils are required to write in different genres and to identify different presentational devices. More able pupils are able to word process their extended writing at KS3. We do this because this is the method used for the Functional Skills and GCSE assessments.
In KS2 and KS3, teachers use the information from the learning ladders to plan English lessons based on what pupils already know and can do. When pupils have regressed in their learning, teachers take pupils back to a lower outcome and move back upwards when learning is secure. Pupils’ work is marked during lessons, this enables teachers to assess continually and to act on any misconceptions quickly.
Pupils are assessed for writing, reading, spoken language, spelling and phonics at KS2 and KS3 using the English Learning Ladders. Data captures take place in terms 2, 4 and 6 and teachers meet with subject leaders in the subsequent Pupil Progress Meetings. This is an opportunity to discuss the progress of pupils and to identify any trends in progress or intervention needs. Pupils are also assessed more formally in reading ability, reading comprehension and spelling twice yearly. At KS4, pupils are assessed according to the qualification they are following but are also formally assessed in reading ability, reading comprehension and spelling twice a year.