The Importance of English
Here at St Thomas More, we believe that English is a vital way of communicating in school, in public life and internationally. Literature in English is rich and influential, reflecting the experience of people from many countries and times.
In studying English pupils develop skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing. It enables them to express themselves creatively and imaginatively and to communicate with others effectively.
Pupils learn to become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama as well as non-fiction and media texts.
The study of English helps pupils understand how language works by looking at its patterns, structures and origins. Using this knowledge, pupils can choose and adapt what they say and write in different contexts.
We are a well-qualified and passionate team of teachers, ranging from enthusiastic NQTs to experienced members of the Senior Leadership Team, many of whom are former pupils! The team is led by Mrs Leese, who has been in post since Easter 2016, ably assisted by Miss Beasley. Many of the department hold key roles of responsibility within the school; Miss Stubbs is Assistant Headteacher for Behaviour, Mrs Lovatt is SENCO and Ms Powell is also Head of Year 9. Mrs Warren is responsible for key stage 3 and transition, and Miss Allen is our Literacy Coordinator. The team is completed by Mrs Edwards, Mrs Kerr, Mrs Mitchell, Ms Phoenix, Mrs Leese, Mr Pierce, Mrs McConaghy and Miss Warren.
We are all avid readers and we work collaboratively with the librarian in order to inspire our students to read widely for pleasure, as well an enrolling them on the Accelerated Reader programme in order to boost literacy skills. Favourite texts amongst staff include 'Wuthering Heights', ‘1984’, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘Persuasion’.
The department is located in the new section of the Dominic block, with newly fitted classrooms surrounding the library. The classrooms opened in 2013 and are equipped with a plasma screen. Classrooms are a good size and allow for a flexible use of space to facilitate group work and cooperative learning. The department also has two laptop trollies which are used flexibly for Accelerated Reader and project work.
- Ensure that all students can engage with the curriculum through a range of activities to encourage independent learning;
- Increase students’ confidence in their reading, writing and speaking skills through relevant lesson content, linking skills to everyday life and current events as much as possible;
- Improve the literacy of students, from their entry at KS3, striving to ensure that they have the skills needed for life beyond school;
- Make English enjoyable and create a passion for literature and writing;
- Prepare students for the skills needed at KS4, making sure that students are working towards the skills needed at GCSE level.
- Engender a lifelong love of language and literature and lexicology!
Extra-Curricular Activities and Curriculum Enhancement
The department offers a rich programme of extra-curricular activities, so it is possible for every student to develop their personal interests within the subject of English. On a weekly basis, the department offer literacy sessions for students wanting to improve their literacy skills at KS3 and KS4. These are usually by invitation, but students are encouraged to speak with their teachers if they feel that they need to develop these skills; new students are always welcome! Regular theatre performances and other trips also enrich students’ learning. In addition, the Creative Writing Group has had a number of successes, including having their writing published as a part of national competitions.
Lessons are planned on a group by group basis. This ensures that the subject teacher has crafted lessons specifically for the individuals within a group, aiming at inspiring them. Students also make entries to the regular Young Writer competitions, giving our students the opportunity to compete against other young people for the privilege of being published writers. The department also provides extended curriculum sessions for gifted and talented students across KS3.
KS3 (Years 7 – 9)
Year 7 are taught in two parallel populations X and Y. This is to allow them to settle into the Academy and to demonstrate and develop their ability in the subject. From Year 8 onwards, classes are set based on their individual progress.
The curriculum has been written to meet the requirements of the New National Curriculum and is shaped in order to challenge the students over the three years as well as working towards the requirements of the GCSE course by the end of Year 9. Assessments are also progressive and match the department’s desire to take their students on a journey during their KS3 years, exposing them to a wide range of literature and in depth language study. There is a clear path from Year 7 which enables them to meet the demands of the new GCSE specification. Lessons and subject matter at Year 7 are designed to build on KS2 skills and assessments are structured in a similar way to those at primary for the first module, then gradually moving towards KS3 assessment styles. Our staff have observed lessons at primary level in order to train on phonics and other skills to help student who struggle with spelling and reading. On the other hand, Year 9 units and assessments are building students’ skills and introducing new topics which are featured in the KS4 curriculum. Assessments gradually build towards GCSE-style tasks and encourage extended writing and essay responses to texts.
In years 7 and 8, all students follow the Accelerated Reader Programme and their reading and spelling ages are tested regularly. One lesson per week is dedicated to Accelerated Reader whereby students are able to read for pleasure and quiz. Students enjoy receiving letters home and prizes for their commitment to reading!
Assessment is completed through teacher assessment of on - going work and through the common assessments which are moderated within the department. Two common assessments are completed each half term, covering writing, reading, speaking and listening. This is to allow us to standardise our marking and to ensure that students’ progress is accurate. We also attend meetings with local primary schools in order to standardise across KS2 and KS3, ensuring a smooth transition.
End of year examinations are used as summative assessment in the final half term of the summer. These are used to provide an indication of a students’ ability to perform under examination conditions in preparation for the GCSE exams at KS4.
During Y7 students will experience a range of topics which will expand and challenge their academic potential and ultimately prepare them for KS4.
Units of study:
- Me Myself and I
- A Christmas Carol
- Literary extracts
- Contemporary novel
- Beginning the Bard (an introduction to Shakespeare)
- Poetry from other cultures
Other texts that may be studied this year include: ‘Our Day Out’ by Willy Russell, ‘A Question of Courage’ by Marjorie Darke, ‘Ernie’s Incredible Illucinations’ by Alan Aychbourn, ‘The Tulip Touch’ by Anne Fine, ‘Framed’ by Frank Cottrell Boyce, ‘The Ghost of Thomas Kempe’ by Penelope Lively, ‘Buddy’ by Nigel Hinton and ‘Room 13’ by Robert Swindells.
St Thomas More Catholic Academy offers an engaging and captivating curriculum for Year Eight, which seeks to mature and develop the skills learned in Year Seven. Students explore texts from the literary heritage and modern/postmodernist texts as well as making cross-curricular links are made
Units of study:
- War Literature (Language focus and Literature focus)
- Romeo and Juliet (Language focus and Literature focus)
- Blood Brothers
- Gothic Literature
All students study the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe and the poetry of Benjamin Zephaniah.
Other texts that may be studied this year include: ‘Kensuke’s Kingdom’ by Michael Morpurgo, ‘Noughts and Crosses’ by Malorie Blackman, ‘Holes’ by Louis Sachar, ‘Face’ by Benjamin Zephaniah and Machine Gunners’ by Robert Westall.
Year nine is a demanding year for our students as they begin to focus on preparing for their to GCSE course in earnest. This year is about both consolidating and fine tuning skills already learned as well as acquiring the knowledge and sophistication to deal with increasingly complex subject matter. The department is committed to delivering lessons that engage and stimulate young minds, constantly developing new resources and adapting schemes of work to suit the needs of all our learners. Throughout the year students will follow a broad curriculum which meets national requirements.
Year nine is a pivotal time for our students and the skills and knowledge they will develop throughout the year will enable them to study at GCSE and beyond with confidence.
Units of study:
- Of Mice and Men (Language focus and Literature focus)
- Viewpoints in writing
- Macbeth (language and literature focus)
Other texts that may be studied this year include: ‘Mortal Engines’ by Philip Reeve, ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell, ‘Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins, ‘The Edge’ by Alan Gibbons, ‘Northern Lights’ by Philip Pullman, ‘Woman in Black’ by Susan Hill.
KS4 (Years 10 and 11)
Students complete the AQA course for both GCSE English Language and Literature. From exams sat in June 2017 controlled assessment has been removed and replaced by linear terminal examinations in both qualifications. All students will complete both qualifications.
|Language GCSE:||Literature GCSE:|
|Reading and writing assessed equally.||
An Inspector Calls,
An anthology of 15 poems – Power and Conflict,
A Christmas Carol.
|2 exam papers:
“Explorations in creative reading and writing”
1 hour and 45 minutes (Literary extracts)
“Writers viewpoints and perspectives”
1 hour and 45 minutes. (Non-fiction articles)
Paper 1 – 1 hour 45 minutes 40%
Shakespeare and 19th Century novelOne question on each
Paper 2 – 2 hours 15 minutes 60%
We currently offer two A-Levels: English Literature and English Language and Literature.
AQA GCE English Literature Specification A
English Literature is an exciting course, allowing students to delve into a study of literature across the ages from Chaucer’s ‘The Canterbury Tales’ written in Middle English to the contemporary ‘Birdsong’ by Sebastian Faulkes. The course develops students’ analytical skills, encouraging them to make links and connections between a range of studied and unseen texts.
Teaching groups are small so whole class teaching is discussion based and everyone can be involved. Group work occurs and groups would be asked to report back to the rest of the class. There is much one to one tuition, particularly when coursework is being prepared. The course requires students to research and respond to texts independently.
The first year of the course concentrates on literature from or about World War I During this A/S year a range of texts is studied. This will include two novels (e.g. 'Birdsong', 'Regeneration'); two plays (e.g. 'The Accrington Pals', 'Journey's End') and a selection of poetry.
40% of marks are for coursework; 60% of marks are available through examination.
The second year concentrates on the theme of 'Love through the Ages'. On the A2 course, three texts are studied for coursework, one of which will be a Shakespeare text. Three further texts will be studied in detail. Knowledge of literature from Chaucer to the present day will be developed.
20% of marks are for coursework; 30% of marks are available through examination.
AQA GCE English Language and Literature Specification B
The combined study of English Language and Literature at A-Level is a thrilling course, allowing an insight into the intricacies of language use in every aspect of our lives. Students are required to study a whole range of texts from transcripts of spoken language to media advertisements to prose fiction. In addition, students who enjoy expressing themselves creatively are able to engage in three coursework pieces over the two years which stress their ability to write creatively in a number of genres.
The first year is split into two sections, with the coursework being based upon the study on two novels (one from the literary heritage and one contemporary) as set by the board, and the examination which requires the study of an anthology and unseen texts.
40% are for coursework; 60% of marks for the examination.
The second year further develops their understanding of the use of language in different contexts through the examination and the coursework folders require two pieces of controlled assessments which are transformations of texts studied.
40% are for coursework; 60% of marks for the examination