English

The team of specialist teachers are passionate about the subject. It is our aim to promote the enjoyment of reading and writing and foster what we hope will become a lifelong interest in literature, alongside equipping students with the relevant skills and knowledge about language to ensure that they make exceptional progress during their time at Weatherhead.

Miss Woolsey

Head of English

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Why Study English? (Intent)

Weatherhead English Department aims to equip students with the rich vocabulary, cultural capital and high level of literacy required to succeed as lifelong learners and ambitious members of society. Explicit vocabulary instruction is at the heart of all English lessons as we believe this is a central tool in accessing, articulating and appreciating the big ideas which shape us and help us grow as a society. Through regular exposure of Tier 3 words, in planners, on computer screens, on school televisions and corridor displays, we promote careful reflection and revisiting of keystone academic lexicon. Competitions such as ‘Weatherhead Wordmaster’ help to cement the integral role that retaining a dynamic repertoire of vocabulary has in our curriculum.

Collectively, we value highly the critical role of meaningful reading in a diverse range of contexts and experiences for our students. Set texts have been carefully curated to ensure that we are promoting the rich literary canon in addition to providing vibrancy through a myriad of contemporary and even controversial publications to engage and enthuse students of all ages and abilities. Highly proficient readers will be stretched and challenged via the ‘Beyond 7’ initiative which incentivises wider reading of undergraduate level material whilst some more reluctant readers will be energised via the Harry Potter reading intervention groups. Authors’ Week, Harry Potter Evening and World Book Day are calendar highlights within the English department. Years 9-11 undertake weekly ‘Mastery’ focuses to delve deep into threshold Literature concepts and seminal quotations. Outside of English lessons, this concept is nurtured via ‘Register and Read’ during form time, extra curricular opportunities such ‘16 classics before 16’ and regular challenges hosted via the Learning Resource Centre. Students have the opportunity to attend Stratford-Upon-Avon during Key Stage 3 to enable contextualisation of their reading of Shakespeare. All Year 7 and Year 8 students also benefit from weekly ‘Forensic Reading’ lessons which address complex ideas and critical discussion of high level fiction and non-fiction texts. Through judiciously chosen schema, the intention is to foster a love of reading, increased confidence in terms of oracy and a celebration of the rich reading culture at Weatherhead High School.

Through every facet of our curriculum model, effective writing is predicated through engaging schemes of work, regular ‘Big Write’ activities at Key Stage 3 and tri-weekly literacy starter activities. Careful attention is paid to the writer’s craft, originality of expression and technical accuracy. Students have the opportunity, and often succeed, in competing in local and national writing competitions. In recent years, Weatherhead students have won the title of Wirral Poet Laureate, via the Christopher Salmon Poetry competition. Many others are highly commended. Internal competitions are launched school-wide each half term and often procure a plethora of high-quality entries.

Regardless of background, students should be independent, reflective and able to think and speak critically of the world around them. Through weekly ‘Hot Topics’ lessons, Key Stage 4 students are exposed to topical material to provoke curiosity and structured debates regarding global and local matters. These cross-curricular foci range from the catastrophic impact of climate change to issues around Britney Spears’ conservatorship. Oracy development is instrumental in our departmental aim to cultivate well rounded and eloquent communicators. Another exceptionally revered event which encapsulates this initiative is our annual Spoken Language Award where Year 8s zealously compete in class competitions with their personalised speeches. The final event is performed in the theatre in front of a panel of judges from the Senior Leadership Team. We hope to instill a love of learning, appreciation of literary heritage and a confidence with communication which will prepare them for the world of further education, employment and beyond.

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How Students Learn (Implementation)

KS3

Writing

In order to foster a seamless transition from Primary School, Weatherhead English has integrated the KS2 literacy curriculum into a mastery programme to supplement Schemes of Work (3 times per week) which is synthesised through fortnightly ‘Big Write’ tasks; these initiatives enable students to build on their technical KS2 writing skills, embed a variety of newly learned vocabulary and consciously craft writing for a variety of purposes: narrative, descriptive or discursive. Regular competitions, both local and national, help to ensure that writing is consistently refined, rich and rewarding.

Reading

Year 7 students are introduced to engaging twenty first century texts, such as Cirque du Freak, to maintain a strong focus on the journey started at KS2, to promote ‘Reading for Pleasure’, before progressing through a plethora of culturally rich, literary canon texts such as Frankenstein, Lord of the Flies and Much Ado About Nothing. This is underpinned by regular LRC lessons (for Year 7 and 8) and an enriching extra-curricular programme which includes Harry Potter Club,’16 Classics before 16’, Authors’ Week and the opportunity to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Speaking

Opportunities for presentations and reading aloud are nurtured through LRC lessons and KS3 SOWs to promote confidence, resilience and oracy. The Diverse Voices SOW in Year 9 ensures students regularly access underrepresented writers and iconoclastic historical figures in order to provoke topical discussions and debate global issues. All Year 8 students participate in the Spoken Language contest to coincide with International Women’s Day.

KS4

English Language

Students begin both Year 10 and Year 11 with a bespoke English Language SOW which introduces them to the examination requirements of Paper 1 and Paper 2 and expands on the skills explicitly gleaned at KS3 through Big Write tasks, Reading through Time and Real Reads.

Following this, Year 10 will undertake weekly Paper 1 Language practice through their homework booklet and accompanying Google Classroom reflection resources and regular walk and talk style assessments to boost resilience and independence with the demands of the unseen extracts from 19th to 21st century.

Year 11 complete alternating homework (Literature and Language) tasks and participate in Language Fridays where they revisit these skills alongside their Literature study.

English

Literature

Both Year 10 and 11 have a weekly mastery focus for Literature which revisits topics from KS3, promotes academic vocabulary and hones in on key quotations. Students will revisit texts, introduced at Year 9, and begin study on Animal Farm with an increased focus on contextual understanding, analytical writing skills and making connections across texts.

For the most able students, attendance at lecture style masterclasses on Tuesday afternoons and weekly wider reading, via Google Classroom, is encouraged through the Beyond 7 programme to ensure students have access to a wealth of stretch and challenge material.

Spoken Language

An integral aspect of Language Fridays is Hot Topics which encourages weekly discussions and debates on a multitude of controversial issues such as: Fracking, Environmental cost of Fast Fashion and Minimum Wage.

KS5

English Language

To ease the transition from GCSE English Language, Year 12 begins by focusing on the expectations of the course and the skills required for success. Students then work through the relevant theory and skills for each paper. Throughout the course, students complete a timed essay every two weeks on the topic of study to consolidate learning; a piece of 50:50 homework for each lesson (which can take the form of wider reading, podcasts etc. intended to provide added breadth to their studies) and half-term assessments. Year 13 follows a similar format to Year 12, with ongoing NEA work. All content is covered by the end of the Autumn Term, which provides curriculum time for targeted revision of topics, as well as time for support with NEA.

English Literature

Year 12 begins by focusing on the expectations of the course and the skills required for success before studying relevant Literature theory and practising the skills for each paper, beginning with Othello, which follows a similar format to Shakespeare at GCSE, in order to support transition. Throughout the course, students complete a timed essay every two weeks on the topic of study to consolidate learning; a piece of 50:50 homework for each lesson (which can take the form of wider reading, podcasts etc. intended to provide added breadth to their studies) and half-term assessments. Year 13 follows a similar format to Year 12, with ongoing NEA work. High ability students are encouraged to attend a wider reading lunchtime session based on Oxford University resources for their ‘10 Minute Book Club.’ This encourages students to read texts from the literary canon and broaden their understanding of typicality across different literary movements and time periods.

Masterclasses

In addition to class work, Year 13 students are also expected to attend fortnightly ‘masterclasses’ – lecture-style revision sessions provided by class teachers, intended to add depth to the content covered in class.

Facilities

Pupils can access an extensive range of literary and non-literary wider reading materials in the Learning Resource Centre to supplement their study of English.  The English classrooms are equipped with a computer and an interactive whiteboard, and laptops are also used to develop learning in the classroom.

Support

There are a range of support sessions that run at lunchtime and after school for pupils in all of the three key stages. Additional revision classes are available for all students before they sit GCSE and Advanced Level examinations. There are also a range of homework support clubs for each key stage that are supervised by English specialists.

Extra-Curricular

Students are given the opportunity to enter local and national writing competitions and many of our students manage to get their work published each year. The Year 8 public speaking competition is the highlight of the school year. The annual Author Event takes place every Autumn Term, providing students with a chance to meet and work with famous authors. Pupils are also given the opportunity to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon and watch live theatre performances at various theatres across the North West. Students are spoilt for choice in terms of the range of extra-curricular clubs that are available:

– Harry Potter Club
– Big Read
– Homework Support
– Debate Club
– Creative Writing
– Stanza Bonanza (poetry club)
– 16 Classics Before 16

Enrichment is at the heart of the English curriculum and the department are passionate about encouraging a love for the subject.

The team of specialist teachers are passionate about the subject. It is our aim to promote the enjoyment of reading and writing and foster what we hope will become a lifelong interest in literature, alongside equipping students with the relevant skills and knowledge about language to ensure that they make exceptional progress during their time at Weatherhead.

Miss Woolsey

Head of English

KS5 Course Guide