What is English?
English is the study and exploration of literature, mainly comprising of novels, plays, and poetry. This study includes analysis, debate and the critical evaluation of published works of literature, both classic and contemporary. In conjunction with this, students are taught to engage creatively with texts, producing their own pieces of both fiction and non-fiction writing.
Why do we teach English at HAWI?
Engaging with literature and the spoken word, enables students to see and explore a world beyond their own experience. We hope to nurture a love of reading within our students which prompts them to read widely to build their knowledge of the world they live in. With a view to promoting this expansive outlook, within the English curriculum at HAWI we have ensured students read texts stemming from a wide range of political, social and cultural backgrounds and ideas. This provides students with powerful academic knowledge which not only enables them to engage with the world around them, but also form their own opinions, respect the views of others and ultimately become more empathetic and understanding individuals. Furthermore, through building students’ cultural capital and their understanding of language and its impact, students are in a much stronger position to interpret and question the society they are a part of and convey their ideas with increasing confidence, articulacy and effectiveness.
How do we teach English at HAWI?
Across the key stages, our curriculum is taught using ‘Big Questions’ which students look to answer as their powerful literary knowledge develops. Within English, in Key Stage 3 these ‘Big Questions’ are connected by an overarching theme for each year allowing students to make clear links between the texts and units they study. The overarching themes for each year are as follows: Year 7, Exploring Different Voices; Year 8, Identity; and Year 9, Power. This approach helps students to put ideas into a wider context whilst also preparing them for the demands of Key Stage 4 and the level of conceptual understanding necessary to achieve highly.
Additionally, the content of our curriculum in English is underpinned by four threshold concepts: Layers of Language, Authorial Intent, Structure, and Punctuation, Grammar and Vocabulary. These threshold concepts are revisited throughout Key Stage 3 and become increasingly complex and challenging as the curriculum progresses into Key Stage 4 and beyond.
When it comes to delivering the curriculum in the classroom, we put great emphasis on high levels of spoken language, with discussion embedded into every lesson. Pupils’ levels of literacy are expected to be excellent through this constant practice of rehearsing ideas through discussion, and then being supported in constructing these ideas into coherent and explorative pieces of writing.
How do we make English memorable at HAWI?
Alongside English lessons, the curriculum at HAWI is comprised of many memorable moments which bring the subject to life. These include visits to the theatre to see performances of critically acclaimed and exciting plays including A Christmas Carol, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Watching these plays performed live, not only gives students the opportunity to experience the wonders of the theatre but also further broaden their exposure to important works of literature and the valuable ideas they contain. Furthermore, during Deep Learning Days, Future Aspirations Week and special events, students have the opportunity to meet authors, journalists, poets and spoken word artists. Within these sessions students are able to see the many opportunities that can come from studying literature as well as being inspired by the stories and experiences they share. There is also an optional enrichment in English in which students hone their public speaking and debating skills. Students have the opportunity to take part in competitions and build their skills and confidence in oracy.