Unlocking and appreciating the power of communication
Our primary aim in the King David School English Department is to develop pupils who recognise and enjoy the integral role and importance of communication in the wider world, as well as equipping them with the skills and confidence to become powerful and effective communicators in their own right.
We want our pupils to appreciate communication in all its forms. Students are taught to recognise the inextricable links between writing, reading, speaking and listening in the study of English by experiencing a range of language and literature from different ages, genres, registers and cultures. These, in turn, inform pupils’ own self-expression and understanding.
We aim to share our love of English language and literature and to give our students every opportunity to unlock their potential understanding and enjoyment of the subject. In particular we aim to develop successful learners who are literate, creative and enquiring; able to communicate clearly and work both independently and collaboratively. We want to enable our pupils to respond critically and personally to the texts they study at all levels. Whilst we recognise the value of English as a core subject, our main commitment is in encouraging our students to see its value beyond the classroom and examination success. As such, we teach pupils to write and speak in a range of purposeful contexts, helping them to become confident communicators, developing their sense of responsibility and preparing them for life and work. We also endeavour to provide an environment for pupils to explore their own values and beliefs and those of others; to recognise and discuss different viewpoints and interpretations, and to respond with confidence, by developing logical arguments and justifying their own views.
We provide a knowledge-engaged English curriculum. Essentially, our priority is the successful teaching of English skills in reading, writing and spoken language. However, we recognise that the successful application of skills also necessitates the assimilation and application of knowledge, both substantive (for example, in the form of the socio-historical context of a text) and disciplinary (for example, in the form of subject-specific terminology). As such, our curriculum is designed to combine both skills and knowledge, and to allow the opportunity for pupils to consolidate and extend.
The English curriculum at KS3 and KS4:
Ultimately, students of all ages are very much encouraged to see English as a ‘living and breathing’ concept, taking note of the language they use to communicate and the different forms in which it appears around them. With regular theatre trips, writer visits and creative writing competitions, students at King David experience the power of English first hand. The teachers in the department also want nothing more than for students to share their love of reading; lunch time book clubs and reading lists aim to foster a love of literature.
KS3: Year 7
As our pupils embark on their secondary school study of English, we aim to foster the love of literature developed in primary school study. Students study two novels in year 7. Typical texts include: Coraline by Gaiman, The Boy in Striped Pyjamas by Boyne, Carrie’s War by Bawden, Point Blanc by Horowitz and The Ruby in the Smoke by Pullman. Students also study Gothic fiction, which provides an introduction to historical literature and the importance of context and genre. They develop their persuasive writing and speaking skills, and learn more about their responsibility in the wider world by, for example, exploring non-fiction texts about the environment. We also introduce students to the study of Shakespeare in the summer term, by reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Our key aim here is to make the text as accessible and enjoyable as possible. An independent project on ‘Shakespeare and his world’ at the end of the year rewards independent learning, encourages curiosity and enquiry, and establishes a firm basis for future study.
KS3: Year 8
The Year 8 curriculum intends to build upon and revisit skills established in Year 7. Literary texts are therefore a little more challenging in content and ideas. Students study a modern novel in year 8, and typical texts include: Goodnight Mr Tom by Mogorian, Private Peaceful by Morpurgo, The Foreshaowing by Sedgwick and Witch Child by Rees. They are also introduced to modern drama texts, such as The Crucible or Blood Brothers, and we use this to build upon pupils’ understanding of the significance of context, and drama as a genre. Students develop their skills in writing and speaking to express a viewpoint. Concomitant to this is their exploration of poetry taken from a range of different cultures, during which pupils are encouraged to explore and express their own identity whilst appreciating and understanding the experiences of others. Self-expression of personal experiences are also taught through a unit on travel and descriptive writing. At the end of the year, pupils are introduced to the concept of historical language change, in the form of an independent project which builds on those personal study and research skills developed at the end of Year 7, as well as enabling students to appreciate the ever-changing nature of English and to demystify English in its older forms.
KS3: Year 9
Our priority in Year 9 is to support students as they move from KS3 to GCSE level study skills. As such, pupils build on their understanding of older literature and context by exploring the 19th century novel. Typical texts include: Great Expectations by Dickens; Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, or more modern texts which share genre tropes and contexts with the 19th Century, such as Hill’s The Woman in Black. Students also study a wide selection of poetry; develop their skills of narrative and transactional writing and end the year with the study of a modern drama such as Russell’s Blood Brothers or Miller’s The Crucible. We also focus here on unseen texts from a variety of different contexts and genres, to enable pupils to exercise transferring their skills and knowledge. Studying Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the Spring term enables students to build upon their analytical and essay-writing skills, whilst fostering further an appreciation of Shakespeare and demystifying older forms of English. Creative writing experiences are encouraged and pupils begin to explore the structural complexities of narratives. At the end of the year, the Year 9 independent project allows pupils to explore poetry in an open manner, in the hope that they will find poets who inspire them to express themselves whilst also learning about poetic technique more generally.
All students study both GCSE English Literature and GCSE English Language. External examinations in both subjects take place in May and June of Year 11.
GCSE English Literature: We follow the AQA exam board. In Year 10, students read a twentieth-century play in the Autumn term (usually An Inspector Calls by J B Priestley) and then a 19th Century novel in the Spring term (typically Dickens’ A Christmas Carol or Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde). In Year 11, pupils study Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Students also explore a range of poetry on the theme of ‘Power and Conflict’ throughout the GCSE literature course.
GCSE English Language: We follow the Eduqas exam board. Throughout years 10 and 11, students read extracts from 20th century fiction and 19th to 21st century non-fiction texts. Reading skills in comprehension, inference, analysis, evaluation and comparison are developed over the two years. Writing skills are developed by practising specific forms such as narratives, letters and reports. There is a strong emphasis on technical accuracy in spelling, grammar and punctuation. All students prepare and present a short talk at the end of the summer term in Year 10 to fulfil the required component on Spoken Language.
The English Department offers two courses at A Level: English Literature and English Language; the Edexcel specification is studied for both courses. We recommend a minimum grade 7 in English Literature at GCSE level to enrol in either course.
The study of English Literature is about exploring a range of Literature from Shakespeare and his contemporaries to the present day.
The study of English Language is about exploring a variety of language encounters such as spoken language in everyday life; the ways in which language use is shaped by identity; how children learn to use language and how language changes over time.
Details of the English Language course can be found here.