Key Stage 3
Year 7 students are currently taught in mixed ability groups – each teacher differentiates the work in order to fulfil the needs of the class and the individuals within it. All students do, however, follow largely the same curriculum. Years 8 and 9 are taught in sets. Setting is based on attainment and performance in the previous year and end of year exam results, as well as on students’ DfE end of year targets. Again, the same general curriculum is followed by all students, with differentiation and challenge to cater for students across the ability range. Year 9 pupils begin GCSE study in the last term of the year.
All classes at KS3 have seven hours of English per fortnight, and homework is set once a week. This homework may entail research, task-completion, extension exercises, practice/rehearsal, assessment preparation, revision, consolidation learning, reading/wider-reading, or viewing/listening to different media. Any additional reading of fiction or non-fiction is essential; all students should be doing their own reading as well as their regular homework.
Throughout KS3 students learn about all aspects of English Language and English Literature, covering Reading, Writing and Spoken Language. Every half-term, they are assessed on these skills and their targets and progress are therefore reviewed regularly.
All KS3 learning mirrors the units of assessment that students will undertake in KS4. This includes creative reading and writing, reading and writing, poetry analysis and reading texts of a varied nature, including Shakespeare and 19th century fiction.
Key Stage 4
During Years 10 and 11, students continue further study in different aspects of English Language and English Literature. They have nine lessons per fortnight. They are taught in sets determined by prior academic achievement and target grades.
Students in Year 10 are currently studying to complete their GCSE English Literature qualification at the end of this year. They are focusing on Macbeth, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, An Inspector Calls and the ‘Power and Conflict’ anthology of poems for AQA.
Students in Year 11 are working towards both English Literature and English Language GCSEs this year; they are studying the same set texts as Year 10.
Aspire Book Club – We have a Book Club for students which is well attended in all year groups, and even has a few staff members. The group meets once per term and, in association with Urmston Library (which supplies half of our copies), we are able to lend each member a copy of the current read. So far we have enjoyed Divergent by Veronica Roth, Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls, and Wonder by RJ Palacio. Book Club takes place after school and we focus on reading for pleasure – it is not about work, just about loving books! We recently went to see the film of our latest book, A Monster Calls, and we thought it was fantastic…….although, of course, the book’s better!
Intervention Teaching – Various staff work to support some students to make progress if their achievement is behind that of their peers. Targeted skills are developed with students to enable them to improve their achievement in line with expected levels.
English as an Additional Language – For learners for whom English is not their first language, we are creating a bank of reading material and dedicated specialist time is used to help these learners access the curriculum and the English language as quickly as possible. Class teachers differentiate their lessons and work with specialist Learning Support in order to effectively help EAL students.
Revision Sessions – Ahead of major examination dates, the department runs before/after school revision sessions to assist learners in their preparation for examinations. In these sessions, students practise those skills which will be required for the writing exam; they hone their analytical skills for the media/non-fiction paper; they revise set texts and poems; and they also focus on how to write essays effectively. We also offer Walking Talking Mocks in the run up to final exams in May/June.
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