As a department, we are committed to developing independent, autonomous learners. We wholeheartedly believe that it is our responsibility to instil a passion for English in our students, encouraging them to become lifelong literary explorers who will take delight in reading, writing and thinking. Students are encouraged to think creatively and critically, and their development in these areas is structured and supported. English students will grow into compassionate adults who are capable of reflecting upon their life’s experiences with exceptional empathy and humility.
At Magna Academy, we intend to develop core reading, writing and oracy in our students, using these to develop understanding of students’ place in the world and the issues that affect them.
Through a rigorous focus on writer’s purpose, students are encouraged to develop understanding of how meaning is shaped through writing, and then to develop this themselves in their own work. Students learn to express themselves clearly and comprehensively in a variety of contexts. We encourage exploration of personal responses to themes within texts, challenging their established ideas and perspectives and developing a deeper understanding of these.
Our knowledge rich curriculum ensures that students study challenging texts from Year 7, irrespective of ability. Students are supported in their studies so that all make excellent progress. Students are exposed to a range of themes through their texts, allowing development of cultural capital.
It our intent to instil in students the practical skills that are transferable to all workplaces or further study, such as communication, critical thinking and writing for purpose.
From Year 7, students are well equipped with the skills they need to access, understand and analyse texts. Students are encouraged to read widely, both through the content they study in class, their DEAR texts and homework and through library lessons which support student reading. An emphasis on Tier 2 vocabulary is embedded into our booklets, focusing on etymology, understanding and application of new vocabulary.
In Key Stage 3, students study a range of texts which are then applied through interdisciplinary projects in accordance with AAT No Limits Curriculum. Students begin to study the styles of texts which will formulate their GCSE course, such as poetic form and structure; structure and language analysis across a range of genres; creative and rhetorical writing. Students are introduced to Shakespearean styles and that of pre-19th century writing. Literature study is often supported through contextual factors studied in History, such as World War I. Through constant revision of methods, genres and themes, students develop their learning in a coherent manner, embedding these concepts into their long term memory.
Students start their GCSE course in Year 10, focusing on the study of their literature texts and explicit language teaching. Students study Macbeth, A Christmas Carol and An Inspector Calls, alongside the Power and Conflict poetry cluster, as well as learning how to approach unseen extracts and poems. Students also experience RSC productions of Macbeth through live streaming into the academy. Drama students also perform Macbeth as one of their assessed pieces, allowing them greater character study.
All our learning is presented through knowledge rich booklets, use of knowledge organisers to entrench key terms and quotations, daily and weekly retrieval practice and an interleaved curriculum where students practice not just skills, but revisit important concepts and themes. In lessons, teachers consistently use high level questioning, live marking, where teacher gives individual verbal feedback, and hands down responses to check for student understanding of content. Whole class feedback is used to check for common misconceptions and address these through feedback lessons, in which students then demonstrate their improvement. In addition to this, students are led through aspirational live modelling of what a top level answer should be, and how to achieve this, thus teaching to the top.
Lessons are planned and implemented using our mastery foci, which have been developed from strict adherence to pedagogy. These are: challenge, explanation, modelling, deliberate practice, questioning, and feedback. In addition, teachers constantly engage with pedagogy in meetings and through CPD such as ResearchEd to develop our ability to turn short-term encounters into long-term learning.
Through oracy and discussion, students are encouraged to shape their own understanding of the texts and themes, using the skills they have acquired to formulate their own conclusions.
Students use knowledge organisers as a core part of the curriculum. Learning from this is checked in daily and weekly retrieval practice, where teachers can gain a clear understanding of where weaknesses are. These weaknesses are then readdressed through teacher direction of homework to recover sections and lines.
In every lesson, assessment for learning is consistently used to gauge the understanding of all students, allowing key content to be recovered. In each lesson, teachers use high level questioning, whiteboard responses and chanting of key terminology and quotations to embed learning. Students also regularly complete written tasks which are then marked using whole class feedback.
Key Stage 3 have custom developed mark schemes which map the GCSE skills and are shaped around working towards, working at, and working above expected standard for that year. These establish clear understanding for students of where their work should be. Key Stage 4 are then assessed using the GCSE AQA mark schemes which teachers are trained in application of, and regularly moderate. Teachers then use data trackers which give a question level analysis of areas of strength and weakness. Key Stage 5 are run in small groups, allowing individual, targeted feedback on all student work.