English and Communication
The Importance of English
Communication and therefore the study of English, is integral to all aspects of life, including the world of work. Careers include journalism, writing, editing, copywriting and publishing, marketing and advertising, teaching, social media management, working in public relations and law.
Key Stage 3 Curriculum
We want students to have a smooth transition from KS2 into KS3. We also want students to begin learning higher level English skills, such as language analysis, structure analysis and context, through texts that are exciting and that spark enthusiasm and curiosity. Y7 is all about learning to learn to love stories and celebrating imagination.
We begin with a transition scheme that provides bridging themes of forests and fantasy. We then explore Greek mythology through Homer’s The Odyssey before moving onto a short story anthology. After this we study their first Shakespeare play; Macbeth. After this they study the art of performance poetry and then our first ‘great novel’, George Orwell’s Animal Farm. We finish the year with our long-running Literary Festival, providing students with an opportunity to create film, advertisements, stories of their own and poetry.
In Y8 students continue to develop their critical approach to literature, both fiction and non-fiction, though more complex genres and extracts of texts; these range from dystopia and adventure to crime and punishment. Students also study complex themes in the second Shakespeare play, Hamlet, such as family and mental health, before moving onto their second ‘great novel’, Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.
By the end of this year, students are well equipped to analyse the complex linguistic and structural choices of Shakespeare and great novelists. They also have a foundation of real-world knowledge from the non-fiction units to support their understanding of the more complex themes explored in later years.
Year 9 begins with their next great novel, Lord of the Flies. The familiar genre of dystopia, studied in Y8, is further explored through the full and more complex study of a text. The study of how language is used in the exploration of society and authority is built upon in the next course which relates to protest. This course stretches them to formulate, voice and write their own opinions. The theme of conflict is further explored in the study of WWW I and modern war poets in the War and Conflict course. Their third Shakespeare text, The Tempest, challenges them to explore a genre not yet studied: comedy, and focus on the themes of family, power and exploitation, mirrored in their first and final KS4 Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet.
Open Academy’s Literary Festival
At the end of each year, the English department hold its ‘Literary Festival’. This established and well-loved tradition gives students in KS3 the opportunity to get creative with all of the skills they have learnt throughout the year and to showcase them. They do this through performance poetry, short stories and film.
Students also have the opportunity to meet and work with real authors of published young adult fiction and take part in workshops run by establishments such as the UEA and the BBC.
“It showcases what we write and our opinions which helps us to see things from each other’s point of view” Ellie (Year 9)
“It helps people’s confidence and allows us to share ideas” Jessica (Year 9)
Reading is an integral part of the study of English at Open Academy. We celebrate it often and on a grand scale, with termly competitions such as The Top 20 and rewards such as books, cinema experiences and bowling.
We use the Accelerated Reader Programme across the whole of KS3 to ensure students are reading for pleasure regularly and to better understand students’ reading habits and ability. This is an invaluable part of how we put our intervention in place.
Miss Ling is our star of the library and a fountain of knowledge on books for young adults. Students are often challenged to go to the library and come out empty handed!
“The library is fun! We have a lot of books. There is plenty of horror and fantasy.” Maddison (Year 9)
“If you can’t find a book, Miss Ling will help you. She found me the perfect book.” Alisha (Year 9)
Key Stage 3: Useful links for practising core knowledge and skills
Key Stage 4
In KS4 students study context, language and structure through the analysis of a modern play, a 19th century novel, a variety of modern and 19th century poetry and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Through these texts they explore social issues and themes such as class, education, equality, superstition and the supernatural.
Our chosen exam board, AQA, offers students the opportunity to study a broad spectrum of novels, poetry and plays at KS3; the plays, poetry and novel link strongly with our study of Gothicism and the themes of family constructs and identity explored in KS3. Students benefit from AQA’s extract questions in the literature papers which we understand many students respond more favourably to than the closed-book questions given by other exam boards.
“In English, I enjoy Seeing my friends, fun work and reading - I love a good book!” Hayden (Year 10)
Key Stage 4: Useful links for practising core knowledge and skills