Intent: why do we teach what we teach?
For our school to provide a rigorous and transformational education, English must lie at the heart of the curriculum. Our English mission is to develop independent thinkers, critical readers, eloquent writers and knowledgeable, empathetic citizens, who are truly able to find success in further education and in their chosen paths.
In primary, English is split between reading and writing, with an additional 50 minutes of Read Write Inc phonics for EYFS and Key Stage 1. From EYFS to Key Stage 2, each year group has 6 core texts that they cover over the year. With each core text, pupils build up to responding critically to a big question. The themes are carefully chosen: from “what does it mean to belong?” in Year 1, to “what is trust?” in Year 6. Such questions allow our pupils to reflect and think critically not only about literature but also character. We focus on reading shared texts as a whole class, teaching vocabulary development, evidence retrieval and inference as specific skills that support the critical questions that pupils tackle within and at the end of each unit. In writing, we focus on one form of writing per half term. This allows our pupils to learn the identified age-appropriate key knowledge and skills required over multiple opportunities and where pupils re-visit a particular form in a different year group, they build on existing knowledge.
In Key Stage 3, each year of study is also centred on a big thematic question that links all the units studied across a year. After studying a range of literature, including modern novels, 19th century fiction, poetry and a Shakespeare play, pupils synthesise their improved understanding of belonging, heroism, growing up and family relationships. Studied texts are deeply rooted in context, for example, pupils study the triggers to World War 1 in their war poetry unit, and crime and poverty in Victorian London in A Christmas Carol and use this context to understand writers’ messages. By the end of Year 9, all pupils can write in the academic structures required for success in GCSE and beyond, and hold a passion for English. Reflecting the writing skills developed in earlier key stages, students focus upon either opinion writing or creative writing each term, with increasing depth of study upon each revisit.
In Key Stage 4, pupils become increasingly evaluative in literature; they develop their understanding of writers’ intentions and learn to critique the societies that caused characters’ repression. In language lessons, pupils are taught to read and think actively and critically, and problem solve in response to unseen texts, whilst simultaneously developing their self-expression in writing.
Implementation: how do we teach what we teach?
All English lessons begin with a Do Now, accessible to all pupils, either requiring them to retrieve prior knowledge or generate ideas to prepare them for the learning ahead.
Lessons are planned backwards from the end of unit assessment. Teachers, together with leaders, have engaged in writing the final outcomes and from there, unpicked the key skills and knowledge required to be taught in order for pupils to be successful. All pupils always work to the same learning objective every lesson. Learning activities are then planned according to how best to achieve the learning objective of the lesson, culminating in a lesson outcome through which pupils evidence their progress in achieving the LO.
Teachers plan for the fact that some pupils will need more scaffolding; others will require a greater challenge. Pupils in Key Stages 1-3 learn in a carefully planned mixed-attainment seating plan and teachers have a data-driven wellworn path around the room to assess pupils’ knowledge and understanding quickly and adapt teaching effectively at point of learning and/or misconception using over-the-shoulder feedback to pupils or live class re-teaching.
Pupils are expected to learn from their teammates, as much as from their teacher. Habits for discussion enable our pupils to share their thinking, build on each other’s and act as a team and family. We aim to meet the academic needs
of all learners every lesson through differentiated questioning and resources as well as through additional support from peers or additional adults. For our SEND pupils, we display key words and sentence starters and SEND writing outcomes aim to support the consistent writing of simple, coherent sentences that link to the learning.
Allocations and Pupil Work
Subject Specific CPD
• Annual departmental Hub days with the Ark Network, focusing on teaching, marking and moderation.
• Fortnightly department meetings that offer subject specific training skills in line with departmental priorities. These typically involve engaging with academic research, analysing model practice, implementing new skills into future learning, and pair practice. • Weekly line management meetings that review planning and pupil work and offer coaching on drop in feedback.
• Lesson reviews and PARC meetings in line with the Great Teacher Rubric.
Impact: how do we know what pupils have learnt and how well they have learnt it?
Pupils are summatively assessed every half term on the skills and content they have learnt across the half-termly unit. The assessments and marking rubrics are outlined for each year group below, and all assessments are moderated with a senior leader or Head of Department. Feedback lessons on summative assessments are planned into lessons, giving pupils opportunity to reflect upon their successes and improve their areas for development. Teachers’ reflections on their pupils’ written and quantitative outcomes at the end of each unit form the basis for their adaptations for their MTPs in the subsequent unit.
In KS1 and 2, we have developed our own library of ‘how tos’ to identify the requirements of a particular form of writing for each year group. Each writing unit begins with a ‘Cold Write,’ to assess pupils’ starting points in the form, then moves through several ‘Shared Writes’ to embed knowledge of the form through practice. These ‘Shared Writes’ are used formatively to assess and address gaps. The MTP is continually referred to throughout a unit and adapted as necessary to ensure pupils are on track to meeting the requirements of the summative ‘Go Write’ assessment where pupils show off their mastery of the form in their writing progress books. Pupils display clear ownership over their work, responding to oral feedback, given in class and marking outside of class, which pupils are expected to respond to. In reading, pupils respond to daily evidence retrieval and inference questions alongside developing extended reading responses in the form of critical essays which include text-based evidence to support their responses. Years 16 take a termly PIRA test that is used to inform reading progress and intervention plans through missing mark analysis. In phonics, children are assessed each half term on their accuracy and fluency ability at an age-related text. This data is used to inform 1:1 tutoring.
Pupils benefit from whole class feedback, through stack marking and they redraft as a result of this. In the primary phase, teachers are becoming confident with using a clear marking policy. CPD has been used to support primary teachers to develop the frequency and consistency of their feedback in pupils’ books and such feedback is then planned into the MTP to make clear when pupils are receiving deep marking to support rapid pupil progress. This is evident in their knowledge of their progress and, in most areas, responses to feedback.
From KS3-5 Pupils are formatively assessed in all English lessons. Cold call questioning plays an important role in checking for understanding during guided reading, as well as silent annotations of core texts in response to guided questioning. Teachers check for understanding using a range of strategies including whole class RAGing of example responses, with unpicking, class discussion and debate and we-do reflection questions. We are currently working on using intentional monitoring to provide in-lesson feedback on pupil work, and teachers are designing their own wellworn paths based on Half Term 1 data. In line with the secondary assessing and responding policy, pupils complete at least one extended writing task each week, which is redrafted the subsequent week following whole class reteaching and practice, model annotations and individualised targets. Feedback on checkpoint activities takes the form of a code, from which pupils identify their targets on a feedback sheet, analyse their target in a model response, and redraft their improvements in green pen.
Termly pupil work reviews and additional planned book reviews with leaders monitor the quality of pupil work, the extent to which learning is being effectively facilitated and the consistency with which feedback is being given and acted upon. Outcomes are rigorously assessed against age-related expectations and carefully moderated internally, with colleagues across the Ark network and externally through Local Authority moderation too.