Welcome to the English department. At Westfield Academy, we believe that English offers more than a means of communication. At times, it affords students the opportunity to journey to the past, whilst other times we look ahead to the future and consider what life and society might be like. English is a tool with which we learn to shape and share our ideas and voices, to challenge and refine our own opinions and those of others, to foster empathy and cultural sensitivity, to understand the world around us and to educate and empower ourselves.
English is compulsory at Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 at Westfield, with the option to complete an English Literature A-Level at Key Stage 5. Students are taught to develop a range of skills across the curriculum, including reading comprehension skills, writing skills and spoken language skills. Students study novels, short stories, plays (including Shakespeare), extracts from contemporary and seminal texts and poetry. Some texts are canon, others are contemporary, but all choices have been found to be stimulating and intellectually demanding. There are opportunities to explore a range of fiction and nonfiction texts across a wide array of genres and epochs.
There are a range of skills we aim for students to develop through the curriculum. In terms of reading comprehension, these skills include the ability to respond to texts, to think critically and produce writing in the appropriate style of a critique. Students are expected to engage with elements of the writer’s craft and process at both a micro and macro level. When it comes to writing, students are encouraged to bring their imagination to bear in creative short stories, sometimes even in poetry writing, and to write persuasively for various nonfiction audiences. Students further their vocabulary and their knowledge of punctuation and grammar. For spoken language, students learn to build their confidence, communicate views and to generate thought for their listener, to understand the importance of listening attentively and responding with sensitivity, as well as to understand the foundations of an effective presentation. Alongside this, we hope to draw out in our students a passion for the written word.
Key Stage 3
At KS3 we read chapters from Victorian and Edwardian texts to lay a foundation for our KS4 texts and to promote challenge. In addition, two abridged Shakespearean comedies are explored to increase student familiarity with the Bard and with conventions of humour. Students have the chance to read chapters from a dystopian novel to help inspire their own dystopian writing.
Year 8 sees opportunities for students to read stories from around the world, as well as excerpts from various contemporary texts, in order to inspire their own writing skills. Various poetic personas are discussed and analysed to build poetic terminology vocabulary.
Non-fiction texts are interspersed throughout the curriculum, as are various opportunities to refine persuasive writing skills.
Key Stage 4
At KS4 students are entirely immersed in their GCSE content. Currently, our exam board is Pearson Edexcel for both English Literature and English Language. In our current model, students complete their English Literature content in Year 10 and their English Language content in Year 11, with revision interwoven at various points throughout the curriculum.
For English Literature, students study Macbeth, An Inspector Calls, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, poems from the Relationships cluster in the Edexcel poetry anthology and unseen poetry.
For English Language, students must complete their spoken language exam as well as become even more au fait with both their reading and writing skills in relation to imaginative writing and transactional (non-fiction) writing. Students study a range of pre-19th century extracts to prepare them for paper 1.
Key Stage 5
At KS5 students are introduced to Love Through the Ages and World War One and Its aftermath literature, both components of the AQA Advanced Level in English Literature. Students are expected to complete significant amounts of independent and research tasks to be successful at this key stage. Lessons can be more like seminars to help prepare students for life at university. Students must complete an independent non-exam assessment worth 20% of their overall grade.
Exams & Assessement
- Edexcel English Literature specification: Edexcel-gcses/english-literature-2015
- Edexcel English Language specification: Edexcel-gcses/english-language-2015
- AQA English Literature A-Level specification: AQA-resources/specifications
Enrichment & Extracurricular
The English department offers extracurricular writing clubs for aspiring writers or those with a keen interest in writing. Various curriculum-focused trips are offered where there is enough interest and when deposits are fulfilled in a timely manner. Previous trips have included theatre trips, visiting theatre productions, author visits (Cliff McNish and Taran Matharu were hugely inspirational!), and even trips to Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studios writing workshops.
Competitions such as Readathon, Roald Dahl week, Bookbuzz and My Twist on a Tale run throughout the year.
BBC Bitesize has a range of resources available. For Literature, there are entire sections of the website dedicated to Edexcel revision on the Literature set texts (see key stage 4 description for further information on the set texts to search on BBC Bitesize).
In addition, at both key stage 3 and key stage 4 students must produce a range of nonfiction texts. BBC Bitesize has a section on how to write for different audiences. A hyperlink is provided here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize.
BBC Teach playlists offer lots of useful lessons for both Language: www.youtube.com/watch & Literature: www.youtube.com/watch
When using these resources students should never watch idly; they should actively take notes and / or produce a revision product.
- www.physicsandmathstutor.com (Physics & Maths Tutor - useful for GCSE Literature set text revision)
- www.geoffbarton.co.uk (Geoff Barton resources - useful for both GCSE and A-Level)
- www.grammar-monster.com (useful for brushing up on grammar)
- learnenglish.britishcouncil.org & www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish (for students for whom English is not their first language and who are still learning)
- www.englishbiz.co.uk (useful for A Level students; also has a key stage 4 section)
- www.youtube.com/user/mrbruff (this English teacher’s YouTube channel offers a wide array of videos aimed at helping key stage 4 students understand their texts better and to understand exam skills)
If you want book recommendations for what students might read, check out:
- For 11-14 year olds: readingagency.org.uk/resources/11-14
- For 14-16 year olds: readingagency.org.uk/resources/14-16
- For 16-18 year olds: readingagency.org.uk/resources/16-18
A wealth of additional resources can be found here: https://readingagency.org.uk/news/blog/summer-of-reading-resources.html
If you want recommendations for revision resources to purchase, any local book retailer will have helpful advice. If however you are still unsure, for KS3, why not look at CGP guides? For KS4, look into Snap! Revision guides, the Edexcel Target Grade series, the Edexcel Revision Workbook and the annotated CGP text guides for the Literature set texts. The Philip Allan Literature revision guides for Shakespearean texts can help stretch students performing well in their assessments.