Subject Leader: Miss Hayley Syrett

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Deputy Subject Leaders in charge of KS3: Mrs Charlotte Burrows 

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What are we studying?

The Year 8 curriculum is organised into six units covering the requirements of the English National Curriculum and drawing on the advised learning objectives included in the new GCSE assessment framework.

All Year 8 students will study: a modern novel (either War Horse, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Private Peaceful or Northern Lights); a novel from the literary heritage (Dickens’ A Christmas Carol); a Shakespeare play – The Tempest or Twelfth Night; a classic poetry unit; a creative writing unit based around children’s stories; and a unit studying 19th Century Non-Fiction, using the Titanic as a stimulus. Within the normal English lesson timetable, we also visit the library once week where students read independently. Some students who require extra support with reading and comprehension will take part in the Accelerated Reader programme during the weekly library lesson.

We aim to offer a wide variety of teaching and learning activities in order to engage all learners. Just a few examples of activities your child may learn through are: close reading of texts, cloze exercises, role play, group discussion, oral presentations, hot seating, and storyboards. All classrooms are equipped with interactive whiteboards and we have our very own computer room which students will visit at least once a fortnight.

Each core unit will offer a wide variety of activities to develop and improve students' Speaking and Listening, Reading and Writing skills. We hope to equip your son/daughter with an appreciation and enjoyment of the subject as well as skills appropriate to their GCSEs.

How are we assessed?

There will be one main assessment focus each term – either reading or writing. Students will complete a practice assessment task (AP1) half way through the term in preparation for their final assessment (AP2) which will take place towards the end of a term. Detailed feedback will be given for AP1 which will be used to inform a range of ‘upgrade’ tasks designed to help students make further progress towards their target step. The level achieved by students will be awarded for each formally assessed task and at the end of each term.

How we provide for SEN and Most able students?

We aim to deliver lessons that both support and challenge our students. Those identified as SEN will receive support through differentiated tasks in lessons, and will often have the support of a TA.

Our most able students also benefit from differentiated tasks both in classwork and homework. Extension activities are used during lessons allowing students who finish tasks quickly to access more challenging work, but in an independent manner.

How are we grouped?

Groupings in Year 8 will, for the most part, be determined by pupil performance through Year 7 and end of year internal examination results. We do not finely set in English preferring to take a more banded approach, which is why there are no numerical identifications of groups; e.g. Set 1, on student timetables. Each of our classes are instead identified by author names, with Year 8’s theme being classic authors.  However, all classes are taught to the highest target grade, providing stretch, challenge and support for all students in order to meet or exceed their target grades.

Setting is reviewed throughout Key Stage Three at regular intervals. Students may be moved if they appear to be mis-placed or are not achieving their target grade.

What homework are we expected to do?

Each unit of work lasts approximately six weeks and, typically, students will be set one homework task per week which should be completed in their homework book and should take between 30 minutes – 60 minutes to complete, depending upon their set. Typical tasks will include: spelling tests, self-quizzing from knowledge organisers links to in-class study, ‘Pick and Mix’ activities, research, pre-reading for in class study, and creative expression of core knowledge; e.g. designing a theatre poster.

Pupils are also expected to read every day outside of lessons; we suggest for 30 minutes. We expect parents to play an active role in monitoring their child’s reading. All students should have a book in school every day.

What can parents do to help?

Your help is very much appreciated and here are a few ideas about how you can support your children with their homework:

  • Talk to your child about how to approach the task set.
  • Discuss his or her reading; listen to him/her read
  • Help your child to look up unfamiliar vocabulary and to learn it
  • Proof-read work with your child (please advise us of the help you have given)
  • Test on spellings etc
  • Encourage the meeting of deadlines
  • Encourage your children to take an active interest in current affairs and to feel comfortable discussing their opinions

Parents are encouraged to monitor students' homework and offer guidance wherever possible.  The presence of books in the home and adults/older children being seen to read cannot be under-estimated.

Please do not hesitate to make contact with your son's/daughter's teacher in the first instance, in the event of problems or queries.

Useful resources and equipment: A good dictionary or thesaurus at home. Easy access to a variety of novels or texts. – encouraging students to read a daily newspaper is helpful. Access to a computer is not a necessity.

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