A Statement of Intent for English
English sits firmly in the core of our curriculum and, from there, influences and impacts on experiences across all areas of learning. English also presents the greatest barriers to academic learning for many of our learners. It is therefore essential that our English curriculum is carefully planned to:
Throughout their time with us, we are thinking about each student’s priorities for learning in terms of both: the most valuable accreditations they may achieve; the crucial English skills and knowledge that they need to acquire to secure a successful, independent, happy future. To achieve this, the priorities we identify for our English curriculum have the four pillars for learning at their heart.
Finding our voice
From the day they arrive, we encourage our children and young people to explore, experiment, investigate, and play with words and expressions. Through their experiences and through the approaches we apply, children develop an awareness of the need to communicate and we help them to build the confidence and self-esteem needed to express themselves and their views.
As they progress through the phases, creativity of language is allied with functionality as young people learn the crucial language they will need for day to day adult life and how they can apply it through different forms of communication (eg spoken, written, visual/ physical, signing).
Making us stronger:
Many of our children and young people have challenging early experiences relating to learning in English which impact their self-perceptions and aspirational thinking in this area. It is vital that we hold high aspiration on their part and show them the path to their potential. To succeed in this, we recognise the importance of bringing engagement and relevance to their experiences in order that they see purpose in what they are being asked to do. We believe we achieve this by:
Where barriers to progress emerge during their time with us, responses are swift and robust:
Our curriculum for English is designed to ensure that children and young people establish positive perceptions of themselves as readers, writers and speakers and build and refine knowledge and skills they need to express themselves in a range of contexts and styles, both in spoken and written forms. They will be challenged to use and apply their learning across the curriculum as they develop their appreciation of the premium value that English skills hold in the real world, both in daily life and in the workplace.
Planning for sequential learning:
Our long term plan sets out the text types that we need to cover and the sequence of Learning Focus Points across the phases in both fiction and non-fiction writing. The Learning Focus Points coincide where stage of learning overlap across groups, however close attention is paid by teachers and subject leaders to ensuring age appropriateness in both the texts used and the nature of activities planned.
As far as is practicable, text types coincide/ are closely connected across the school in any given term. Through this approach we are able to:
Within these termly plans, suitable central texts are identified, around which sequential learning programmes can be developed using tailored approaches that are based upon Pie Corbett’s Talk for Writing. In each half term, children experience both fiction and non-fiction texts though the experiences these bring across the school are very different:
Lower Primary: Stories form the basis of our cross-curricular early learning experiences. Great care is taken to select focus stories and non-fiction text that link to our learners own experiences and/or interests. Through the study of these texts, learners are taught to make links in their learning and develop a love of reading from an early age. Through a variety of EYFS provision and tactile, sensory experiences learners are encouraged to explore and develop a deeper understanding of the concept of stories and the use of language and visuals in a variety of contexts. As this understanding develops learners are introduced to the concepts of story mapping and retelling learnt stories.
Upper primary: Fiction and non-fiction writing linked to text begins to emerge in line with the development of phonic ability. Verbal retelling of stories becomes an increasingly strong feature of learning in English and students begin to innovate (make their own adaptations to) stories and retell the new versions they produce. More complex story mapping sequences are developed and students begin to contribute their own ideas to these maps. They begin to look at characters and settings, changing and expanding vocabulary and thinking about the effect this has on the reader. Equal importance is placed on non-fiction texts that are linked, where appropriate, to the stories.
KS3: As students progress into Key Stage 3 they are encouraged to engage with increasingly complex and lengthy fiction texts covering the range of text types set out in Pie Corbett’s Talk for writing fiction texts. Focusing on specific events and incidents, adapted to need where necessary, students continue to develop their understanding of and ability to use story structure and features in planning, constructing and writing fiction pieces of their own. Where possible, texts chosen have a film version that can be used alongside the text to support students’ ability to engage with and interpret key events, characters etc. Where appropriate, non-fiction programmes are threaded into the fiction sequence as teachers develop context-based scenarios that allow students to remain immersed in their learning journey whilst developing their ability to recognise and replicate key features of the full range of text types.
KS4: Whilst each programme has been built around a central text/ novel, the emphasis for composition and understanding of features of layout, structure and style is firmly placed on non-fiction text types. Immersion in the central text therefore provides the context for this non-fiction study and writing as we develop a “faction”-based series of thereby purposeful experiences, for example reporting on an incident or devising a series of instructions to achieve a synthesised goal. In this way, we are able to ensure that learning continues to be deeply engaging for our key stage 4 learners whilst also being age appropriate and clearly focused upon the acquisition of Functional Skills for life.
For those students who are following a GCSE flightpath in English, texts such as “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” by Aron Ralston and “Maze Runner” by James Dashner provide ample opportunity to explore key aspects such as authorial technique, style and text structure and to, for example, draw comparisons between similarly themed texts from different eras.
Long term plans for the coverage of text types across the school as well as the key texts used across the phases in the year 2021-22 can be viewed by clicking on the links below: