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What is English about?

English is a core subject taught to all students from Years 7 to 11. 

KS3 covers Years 7-9 and KS4 is taught in Years 10 and 11.  The final two years involve controlled assessments and examinations.

English covers the three areas of reading, writing and speaking and listening; and at GCSE level two GCSEs are taught in a combined way.  The two qualifications gained at the end of the course are English Language and Literature.

Throughout lower and upper school, students experience a range of units that are challenging and engaging, and high standards are set from early on.  As a department, we gain some of the highest results in Havering, so key skills are embedded in preparation for the final examinations.

Curriculum Breakdown

Year 7 

  • Suspense writing
    This unit focuses on grammar and securing sentence structures. Students will complete creative writing tasks and become familiar with the style writing tasks they will experience at KS4.
  • Poetry
    A range of ballads, sonnets and unseen poems are explored within this unit.  The end of unit assessment will require students create a poem inspired from those studied.
  • Treasure Island
    Students will read the novel and explore key themes and characters. The final assessment will be a reading assessment focusing on language and structure exploration.
  • Writing to inform, explain, describe
    An introduction to key writing skills students will require throughout KS3 and 4. This unit will further develop the skills introduced in suspense writing and offer an opportunity to produce a range of creative texts.
  • The Terrible Fate of Humpty Dumpty
    This drama unit allows students to explore dramatic devices, plot and character. Students will complete a speaking and listening task as their assessment for this unit.
  • Let’s Think
    Students will have a ‘Let’s Think’ lesson every three weeks. This lesson focuses on interpretations, analysis and encourages students to develop responses and inference when reading a range of texts.

Year 8 

  • Poetry Across the Ages
    A range of classic poems are studied.  An analytical essay is produced; a creative piece of writing is also created.
  • Novel unit-
    A novel is studied and an analytical essay is produced as the assessed piece.  An opportunity is given to have a debate in a formal setting.
  • Shakespeare unit-
    The Shakespeare play is studied and empathy skills are focused on when producing a creative piece of writing.  An analytical essay is also produced using key skills that focus on the students’ understanding of language, plot and character.
  • Drama unit-
    This modern play ‘War Horse’ is studied and a review of the play is written to help secure this writing style.  The students will also produce a piece of argument writing. Equally they will study the historical context of the play.
  • Reading unit- ‘Pre-20th Century Texts’
    Students will be introduced to a variety of extracts from classic novels.  These include Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’, Dickens’ ‘Oliver Twist’, Defoe’s ‘Robinson Crusoe’, and the Bronte sister’s ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’.  A timed conditions controlled assessment will be completed, as well as an analytical essay that compares two short stories.

Year 9 

  • ‘The Power of Speech’ and an introduction to studying spoken language
    The skills necessary for effective speech making will be taught and famous speeches will be closely analysed.  Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech will be used as the inspirational source to help structure the student’s individual speeches.  Speeches will be presented and assessed according under controlled conditions. 
    As an introduction to this GCSE requirement, students will complete a spoken language investigation.  The ability to understand and recognise spoken language features will be taught, as well as studying both verbal and non-verbal communication techniques.  Exemplar speeches will be used, focusing on famous political speeches from the past and present.  Inspirational speakers such as Obama will be used as the basis for this investigation.  An analytical essay will be assessed and produced under controlled conditions.
  • Poetry unit- ‘Exploring Poetry from Other Cultures’
    A range of poems from various cultures and traditions will be studied.  These are poems of a GCSE standard to stretch pupils and help prepare them for the content heavy Literature course to be started in Year 10.  The students will complete a comparative essay, where analytical and linking skills are taught.
  • Novel unit
    Students will study a novel with assessments focusing on writing. In preparation for the English Unit 1 exam to be taken at the end of Year 11, students will study how to effectively write in a range of styles (inform, explain, describe).  They are all equally important, as any one of them could appear on their examination at the end of the GCSE course.  The styles will be prepared and then tested using controlled conditions.
  • Shakespeare unit- ‘An Introduction to Romeo and Juliet’
    Key scenes from Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ will be read and analysed.  Students will then have to show their understanding in the form of a comparative essay, linking at least two scenes.  The main area of focus will be on their language and structure analysis.
  • Reading unit- ‘Reading Skills’
    In preparation for the Unit 1 exam in English (to be sat at the end of Year 11), students will be taught the skills to decode and analyse non-fiction texts.  This will include learning how to interpret meaning, how to analyse language and presentational devices and how to retrieve information.  Students will then be tested to see how successfully they’ve learnt these skills when completing a mock exam.
  • Reading project
    All students at KS3 will complete a reading project each term. Students have the opportunity to select and text of their choice to read for their own enjoyment.

Year 10 

In Year 10 the students begin their GCSEs in both English Language and Literature.  Even though they are separate GSCEs, they are taught in a combined way over the two years.  Changes in the examination process, means that from September 2013, students will only have the opportunity to sit the exams at the end of the course (the summer of Year 11).  Year 10 is mainly spent completing controlled assessments that make up a large percentage of the students’ overall grades.  Please note that we cannot plan the exact question titles, as these change annually and are dictated by the exam board (AQA).  The controlled assessments for English are made up of Reading, Writing and Speaking and listening. 

  • Literature Controlled Assessment- ‘Shakespeare and Literary Heritage’
    This controlled assessment is the only one that must be completed for the Literature GCSE.  As it’s the only task, it’s worth 25% of the overall Literature grade.  One Shakespeare play has to be studied and linked to other texts from the Literary Heritage.  An example is the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ compared to two Robert Browning poems.  The final assessment takes up to four hours to complete, and is conducted under controlled conditions.
  • English Language Controlled Assessments-‘Understanding Spoken and Written Texts’
    • Part A-‘Extended Reading’
      For this assignment students must study a novel and then complete an analytical essay.  The task is worth 15% of the overall English grade and will take up to four hours to complete.  The assessment is conducted under controlled conditions.  The current text that is used for this task is Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’.
    • Part B-‘Creative Writing’
      Two tasks must be completed that total 15% of the overall English grade.  The two tasks must be selected from the following three banks: Moving image (writing based on moving images), Commissions (responding to a given brief), or Re-creations (taking a text and turning it into another).  Each assignment will take up to two hours to complete and will be conducted under controlled conditions.
    • Part C-‘Spoken Language Study’
      Students must complete one task that investigates an aspect of spoken language.  Students will have to show that they understand the variations in spoken language, explain why language changes in relation to contexts and evaluate the impact of language choices.  An investigation will be carried out, and then up to three hours will be given for the assessment to be completed in.  This task equates to 10% of the overall English grade.
  • Speaking and Listening
    During the English course, students must complete three different speaking and listening tasks.  These tasks are graded separately to the two GCSEs.  These equally weighted tasks will cover: presenting, discussing and listening and role playing.

Year 11 

Year 11 is spent preparing students for their external examinations which will be sat at the end of Year 11.  There are two exams for Literature and one exam for Language.

English Language Unit 1 Exam- ‘Understanding and Producing Non-fiction Texts’
This exam is worth 60% of the overall English grade and will last two hours and 15 minutes; it covers two equally weighted sections.  Section A is the reading part and takes one hour and fifteen minutes to complete.  Students will be taught how to interpret and analyse non-fiction sources and tested to ensure that they complete the challenging section in the limited amount of time available.

Section B is the writing part, and will take students one hour to complete.  The students will have to complete a longer and shorter writing question.  The longer question will take thirty- five minutes and will test students to either write to argue, or persuade. 

The shorter writing task will take twenty-five minutes, and will test the students on one of three styles.  They will either be asked to inform, explain or describe.  Students will thus be taught to write in all five of the styles of writing to ensure that they’re fully prepared for the exam.

Literature Unit 1 Exam- ‘Exploring Modern Texts’
This exam is worth 40% of the Literature grade. The exam is divided into two equal sections, worth 20% each.  The students have one hour and thirty minutes to complete the paper.  The first part (Section A), requires the study of ‘Modern Prose and Drama’.  The play that is taught is ‘An Inspector Calls’ by Priestley.

The second part of the paper requires the study of ‘Exploring Cultures’.  The text that is explored is Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’, where students focus on their understanding of the American culture in the 1930s.

Literature Unit 2 Exam- ‘Poetry across Time’
This exam is worth 35% of the overall Literature grade and is presented in two parts.  The students have a total of one hour and fifteen minutes to complete the paper. 

Section A covers poetry from the AQA Anthology.  A total of fifteen poems have to be studied and these are arranged in a thematic cluster.  The cluster that we study is one about ‘Conflict’.  The students have forty- five minutes to complete one essay that requires them to compare and contrast two poems.  One poem is named in the question, and the student then has to choose the other poem that they wish to compare it to.  This question is worth 23% of their overall Literature grade.

Section B covers ‘unseen poetry’.  The students will have thirty minutes to complete one essay that tests their understanding of an unseen poem.  The students will have to use the skills they’ve been taught to decode the meaning of the poem and analyse it accordingly.  This question is worth 12% of the overall Literature grade.

Enrichment Opportunities

The following clubs are run by the department on a weekly basis:

  • Creative writing club
  • The Albany reading group
  • Debating club
  • Year 10 focused reading group 
  • RZone

    The RZone is a Fiction Library which aims to be a relaxing space that encourages reading and a love of books.

    Located at the top of North Wing, the RZone is open before school,  at break and lunchtime and after school as well being open to change books throughout the school day from 8:15am to 3:30pm (Monday to Thursday) and to 3:10pm on Fridays.

    The RZone is staffed by Mrs Armand and supported at lunchtimes by a team of Year 10 student Librarians. In the Rzone, we celebrate reading and Literacy every day by sharing new book releases .At the recent launch of the latest “Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Long Haul” in December 2014, students were invited to take part in the “Wimpy Kid Quiz”.All participants were given Reward stickers for “sharing their expert knowledge” and entertaining their gathered audience so well

  • Students’ Work – Students are encouraged to join in competitions;

  • At School – “The Halloween Short Story Competition” in October 2014 where the prize was a £5 shopping voucher

  • Nationally – “First Story Competition” in December 2014, where the Albany School entered 3 students – 2 from Year 8 and 1 from Year 9 chosen from over 50 students across Key Stage 3. Sadly our candidates did not get through the final levels of the selection process – but the stories were all still fantastic

  •  Literacy Skills – The rZone actively encourages local, national and international events that support Literacy Skills, including:  National Storytelling Week - 31st January  to 7th February 2015, National Poetry Day on 2nd October 2014 and World Book Day 30 March 2015

    • The rZone has 2 display boards in the rZone and in the Science Corridor , close to the Conference Room.These display boards are used to inform students about The latest book releases - including ebooks, audio books and other formats Books on the Big Screen - each month a film based on children’s books is highlighted; Local Literary Events – David Walliams Book Signing at Waterstones Piccadilly 6 December 2014, Author Profiles – Shining a spotlight on an individual children’s author born during the month – sharing information on their life and books;
      December 2014    Jacqueline Wilson
      January 2015   Robert Cormier
      February 2015 Meg Cabot
      Author Interviews – online, via links, on audio links
      September 2014    Derek Landy
      December 2014     Marcus Sedg

    • Local and National Competitions   Young Writers’ Prize – deadline in January 2015 with    CASH prize of £2,000!!

Encouraging Student Participation: The rZone wants all students to engage with reading and the world of books (in all their forms!!)

As a result Mrs Armand has involved students with;

Key Stage 3 Reading Survey – used to support the current programme of buying new books for the rZone that students’ want to read.

Student Librarian Scheme – a daily rota of up to 4 Year 10 students who help support Mrs Armand in the running of the rZone. Tasks can include;

  • Being responsible for keeping an area of shelving tidy
  • Cataloguing books on the Library System
  • Using the Library System to lend books and take those being returns
  •    Helping younger students find books and talking with them about  books

Student Book Recommendations – Students who have enjoyed a book but cannot find it in the rZone, can recommend their book and write about it in the Recommendations Book Mrs Armand looks at this book regularly with the aim of buying outstanding suggestions.

Supporting the full range of Literacy Needs - The rZone aims to cater for all students by offering - amongst others- books for;

  • Reluctant or struggling readers
  • Dyslexia-friendly texts
  • Graphic and Manga novels
  • Teen and Young Adult Fiction
  • Quick Reads
  • World Classics
  • Genres including, Adventure, Mystery, Horror, Romance and Science Fiction
  •     Collections like  A Series of Unfortunate Events – Limoney Snickert and Animorphs – K A Applegate

Coming Soon; The Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series – Jeff Kinney

The David Walliams Collection    - David Walliams

The Dork Diaries Series – Rachel Russell

The Michael Morpurgo Collection – Michael Morpurgo

And much, much more!!!

The following trips are run by the department:

  • Globe Theatre production (annually)
  • Queen’s Theatre production (twice a year)

The following workshops and productions are brought to the school:

  • Globe Theatre workshop
  • An ‘Of Mice and Men’ workshop/ Performance

Student of the Term

Every term a student from both lower and upper school will be selected as ‘student of the term’ and acknowledged.  The parents/ guardians will be contacted and their name will be published on the English department website where their successes will be outlined and celebrated.

Useful Links

All of students are encouraged to revise and prepare for exams at home, in addition to their regular and revision classes.  It’s also recommended that students read as much as possible.  This reading should be a mixture of both fiction and non-fiction sources.  As the English unit 1 exam included non-fictions sources, reading on-line newspaper reports and articles would be highly beneficial.

The following sites have been identified as useful websites for students to use:

Upcoming Events and News

  • Globe Theatre Trip and Workshop
    A large group of Year 9s have been selected to attend a visiting workshop that will arrive in school soon.  This will then prepare the students for the amazing opportunity to visit the world famous Globe theatre.
  • Queen’s Theatre Trip
    Forty five students from Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 are invited to see the Christmas pantomime at the Queen’s theatre in Hornchurch each year.  Following on from several previous successful visits to our local theatre, students also have another opportunity to experience a live performance with the department.