English, as a subject, treads a fine line between being a practical subject and a creative one. We can be as suspicious of data-driven success as we are keen to celebrate it. A fantastically articulated poem can be as profound as any A* grade. The hidden curriculum that we follow is as important as any explicit one. Why? - Because the one has a positive knock-on effect on the other. It is a measure of our success at Virgo Fidelis that the English Department aims to balance our responsibility to both the practical and creative development of our students.
We aim to nurture talent and, at the other end of the scale, support those that encounter problems in reading, writing, speaking and listening. We practise, as best we can, the principle of ‘inclusion’ and want to see all students involved and participating in the good practice that our curriculum represents.
At the heart of any good English department, is its approach to reading. ‘Reading’ should provide models to develop students’ own writing style, it should be a source of vocabulary, and the selective skills involved in ‘close analysis’ and ‘skimmed understanding’ are crucial ones in developing a student’s ability to respond in essay form to a text. Throughout Key Stage 3 all students are required to keep a reading journal in which they are expected to keep a record of the reading materials they encounter.
English is not simply about reading, it is a craft too. Students actively take responsibility for using spoken and written language as a tool to persuade, inform, advise and emotionally move their audience. They need to learn how to utilise their imaginations and to use certain language devices for the particular task set. By using the recording studio in the school and by scanning-in student work, we are able to keep a record of well-crafted writing and speaking.
Key to success in English is parental support and a recognition that the experience of literature and the progress towards reading competency is not delivered exclusively at school. Students need to come to school with reading experiences and enthusiasms that should help to inform them about what is good and bad in the world of written literature, they should be aware of the necessary censorship of prurient utterance, and they should recognise the function that articulate language has in our ‘spiritual’ world.
Links to Schemes of work