Through our studies in English, we seek to deepen a student’s personal skills whilst also allowing them the opportunity to discover the power of their literary heritage. We study great works of Literature ranging from Shakespeare, Dickens and Stevenson to Benjamin Zephaniah, John Agard and Khaled Hosseini. Students are free to think independently and work on their ability to develop their own interpretations regarding texts – bringing their own personal contexts to bear on the texts we study. They learn the skills of being accurate and precise in their written expression and to learn to hear other people’s opinions and respond accordingly. In class debate and speaking and listening activities respect for others opinion is integral. Students are taught from the very start of their learning at The Quest that opinions matter – both their own and others. Our seven-year journey provides students with a broad experience of both English Literature and Language.
We work with fiction and non-fiction texts that challenge students in terms of content as well as rigour and explore them using both creative and analytical methods. As a knowledge-based curriculum, we believe that the acquisition of knowledge leads into the students’ acquisition of skills; both are entwined. Once we have taught the students the curriculum content and skills they need to succeed, our carefully planned Seven Year Journey ensures we return to it at regular intervals, for students to revise the content. This means that we are always reflective and reflexive in terms of our short-term plans. Our aim, as teachers, is to create students that are confident, curious, cultured and critical for the wider world and studying English beyond GCSEs.
When studying English Literature skills, we constantly teach texts in relation to their original context as well as the context of the modern day. We teach the main Literature text alongside lessons that are thematically linked to the topics/themes being covered. We are constantly drawing parallels between classic works of fiction such as ‘Lord of the Flies’, ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’, and ‘An Inspector Calls’ and the modern day, and looking for contemporary examples that are relevant for our students.
The texts that we study across the curriculum represent the traditional authors as well as writers that represent a range of cultures. When studying for our Language qualification, the texts that we are studying are forever changing to reflect current affairs and the interest of our students. As teachers, we play a vital role in how students acquire language and literature and the understanding of how it plays a key role in the changing world in which they live. We also challenge students to push themselves with their independent reading – it is so integral for students to be reading independently so as to allow themselves the opportunity to achieve the highest grades.
In the English Language qualification, we aim for students’ vocabulary to grow and to deepen their understanding of speech and language skills. As well as analysing the Language choices made by writers, we aim to enhance students’ ability to communicate effectively in a broad range of contexts. Students are encouraged to use the correct standard English and to develop English proficiency in a variety of ways. We encourage students to take a broader interest in the form and structure of their work and to become interesting writers. It is also important that students actively draw from their own experiences and contexts when producing original writing.
We ensure that we have a high level of challenge whilst also providing support for students who need it. We have modified our curriculum to support more interactions between English and other subjects around the school. We aim to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world through adaptive learning and non-fiction literature that challenges students’ perceptions. Their English skills will not only help to improve their reading and writing but will also help them to become better communicators – a talent for life.