English is a powerful subject: it not only allows us to express and explore deeper issues such as war and the complexities of human relationships, but also equips us with essential tools which enable us to understand and interact with the world around us. At Ashmole Academy we want all students to share our view that success in English is fundamental to success in adult life.
Promoting a love of reading for pleasure is a key focus for the English team. Students in Years 7-11 spend 10 minutes reading at the start of every lesson in order to promote regular reading habits, stimulate discussion about themes and narrative techniques and allow students to share their passion for their chosen book or genre.
All students in Years 7-9 receive a Kindle as part of their English equipment. We expect all students to read widely and often and our Kindles come preloaded with a range of texts suitable to age and ability, which support our curriculum and provide opportunities for extended reading proven necessary for success. This initiative is enhanced by a Key Stage 3 Guided Reading programme to support reading at home.
We are proud of the diversity and challenge of our programme of study; exposure to a wide range of texts begins in Year 7 as each of our students engages with our English literary heritage, as well as contemporary writing.
Students in Years 7 and 8 enjoy a fortnightly library session where they can access the library resources with guidance from the librarian and develop their key literacy skills through our tailored programme of study.
All English lessons in all key stages have a strong focus on developing and maintaining students’ skills in spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Key Stage 3
Year 7 begin their English studies with an exploration of Phillip Pullman’s Northern Lights and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Non-fiction is also a key element of the new GCSE specification; students will encounter a wide range of materials including biographies, journals and newspaper articles on the topic of ‘Journeys’. Later in the year, having studied poetry written by a wide range of poets including those traditionally under-represented, they will write their own poems and be offered the opportunity to perform them at our annual Poetry Festival. Year 8 students will hone their analytical skills studying Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Orwell’s dystopian adventure Animal Farm.
Key Stage 4
Throughout Years 9-11, students will follow the AQA syllabus. All students will study GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature.
English Language includes the study of literary and non-fiction texts from the 19th-21st centuries and tests students on comprehension, analysis and writing skills. English Literature requires students to analyse an anthology of poetry, a Shakespeare play, a classic English text and a modern novel. More detail about each of these courses and the specific texts we will be examining, can be found on the AQA website.
Key Stage 5
At A Level, students study the OCR English Literature syllabus which includes the exploration of poetry, prose and drama from a range of literary periods.
Students are assessed regularly on their skills in literacy, reading comprehension, writing and speaking and listening. Assessments take place each half term and all year groups are examined at the end of the academic year, either through internal or public examination. Year 13 continue to have a coursework component at A Level.
Grouping & Setting
In Year 7, students are taught in mixed ability form groups. In Years 8-11, students are taught in sets. There are two bands, each containing four classes. Years 10 and 11 have four classes in one band and five in the other. Students are placed into sets based on their progress assessed throughout the year and in end of year tests. Sets are reviewed at the end of the first half term. Any further changes are rare.
Teaching and learning is differentiated in both lessons and homework to maximise progress for students of all abilities. In addition, Gifted and Talented students hone their skills by participating in extra-curricular booster groups, debating, reading groups and attending theatre performances in and out of school. We are often visited by authors who discuss their work and the craft of writing. This year, a small group of students have attended a creative writing workshop run by a local author.
Students benefit from a wide range of activities which promote their engagement with language and literature. These include debating, reading groups and shadowing the Carnegie Book Award, a poetry festival and theatre visits.