In English, we aspire to instil a love of reading, writing and literature to develop our students’ understanding of the world.
At Whitelands Academy we intend to ensure that all students can read fluently and with accuracy, as well as encouraging a passion for reading and guiding students to choosing books and genres they will want to pursue. We will encourage students’ curiosity and desire to read, make links with their own knowledge, reading and other curriculum subjects. We will develop students’ writing skills to give them the core life-skills to succeed (such as writing letters and job applications), as well as developing writing as a form of expression and pleasure. To ensure students succeed in English, we will encourage their creative flair in writing, encourage them to have personal, critical opinions when reading and help them to develop their opinions and arguments, using evidence to support these. We also aim to develop students who listen respectfully, speak eloquently and can articulate themselves confidently in and out of the classroom.
Our curriculum is academic and ambitious:
Students enter Whitelands Academy with a reading age range of 9-18 years. We teach in mixed ability classes as we believe in high ambition for all students and recognise that EEF research advises that mixed ability classes encourage positive progress. We have the same ambitious expectations for all of our students, so we teach to the highest attaining student and use scaffolding and the SEN 6 to support all students to achieve these high expectations.
Our challenging Key Stage 3 curriculum will develop the knowledge and skills students have learnt at Key Stage 2 (including reading extracts, poetry and novels and writing for a range of purposes) through class reading of whole texts, thematic units and regular extended writing.
The Key Stage 3 curriculum will introduce students to the key concepts and skills that will equip them to succeed at Key Stage 4 (in both English Language and English Literature). The English curriculum is structured around genres (e.g. War and Conflict, Gothic) and literary periods (e.g. Literature through the Ages) to develop understanding of the conventions of genre and to encourage students to make connections between the texts they study.
To develop extended writing skills, students write creatively and analytically to explore their own ideas and to improve use of grammatical knowledge and Standard English. We model how to do this effectively and encourage deep self-reflection on how to improve their writing.
Our curriculum is broad and enriching:
Outside of the classroom, we want to ensure students engage in English, literature and drama more widely, understand why English, literature and drama are important and begin to explore how they could pursue English at Key Stage 5, university and as a career. We will visit the Royal Shakespeare Company or The Globe to develop students’ understanding of Shakespeare and the context of his works, as well as using Globe and National Theatre productions in lessons. We will organise theatre trips to inspire students to pursue drama and to develop their understanding of dramatic devices by seeing them on the stage. We will make cross-curricular links between English and Drama, and with History and RE to develop students’ contextual understanding. We will give students opportunities to write in real-life contexts (including persuasive letters and newsletter articles) and encourage students to enter writing competitions annually. We will organise visits from writers (authors and journalists) to inspire and motivate students to pursue English further.
In our lessons, we will provide opportunities to discuss and debate to ensure students can recognise the importance of listening and representing their own opinions respectfully. As part of our enrichment offer at Whitelands Academy, we will run extra-curricular activities including Debate and Public speaking, writing competitions (including entering local and national competitions) and reading groups including Carnegie Shadowing.
Core literacy is the focus:
Students’ ability to read is assessed using external examinations as a baseline in September when they join Whitelands Academy. This allows us to identify the areas of reading and writing which require the most development. Through reading in lessons, we focus on comprehension, vocabulary and inference to develop core reading skills. This is important as there is a direct correlation between reading age and academic progress across all of their subjects.
In Year 7, students are further supported through the use of Lexia which offers individualised support for each student, enabling students of all abilities to make progress. This is supported by Guided Reading during tutor time where challenging texts are explored with students.
Our curriculum is values-based:
We have the unique opportunity to promote empathy and understanding of others through accessing a wide and varied range of texts which will support students in becoming respectful, open-minded young adults. Through teaching a wide, diverse range of novels, plays, short stories, poetry and literary non-fiction, we can introduce students to engaging texts that will reflect their own experiences and give them an insight into the experiences of others. In our context, it is important for students to engage with a diverse range of perspectives (e.g. characters and authors from a range of socio-economic, religious, ethnic backgrounds, LGBTQ+ authors and characters, disabled characters and authors) to widen students’ understanding of the world.
Our curriculum is knowledge based:
To ensure students become adept readers, writers and speakers, they need knowledge and understanding of both Standard English and the literary English used in the texts they will study. Students will need to comprehend texts and tasks confidently, be able to recognise authors’ decisions and intentions and make links to contextual factors. Students will need to use English correctly and formally in their writing and speaking, as well as using language imaginatively to describe. We will work closely with the SEN department to ensure students on the SEN register make good progress with reading and writing. At Whitelands Academy, a significant number of students arrive with low reading ages, so we focus on reading, comprehension and interpretation in short stories and extracts in the early terms of Year 7 before moving on to whole texts.