Our English curriculum is built on the understanding that student investment in their learning is fundamental to their future success and that skills are domain-specific: without a subject-specific, broad and secure grounding in knowledge, the development of these skills is limited.
By the time students begin Key Stage 4, they have experienced a broad range of high-quality texts, including full novels, short stories, non-fiction writing, poetry, modern drama and Shakespeare. Our curriculum is grounded in English Literature because we believe that it is through the development of literary knowledge and experience that students develop the skills and contexts in which to become successful, instinctive and invested readers: gaining scholastic excellence and confidence in the subject.
As such, the Faculty of English at Wath Academy is focused on ensuring that all students, regardless of ability, achieve their full potential in English. The skills of reading, writing and spoken communication are each given full consideration in order to develop students into competent and analytical users of English. Furthermore, the Faculty hopes to inspire a love of language and literature and, where necessary, prepare students for university-level study.
Students receive four hour-long lessons of English a week in Years 7 and 8, which rises to five in Years 9–13. Classes in Key Stage 3 and 4 are usually organised broadly by ability, though the exact structure varies depending on the year.
Key Stage 3
The Key Stage 3 curriculum strikes a balance between encountering engaging content and enhancing skills. The units studied ensure that students have a wide-ranging experience of English. Texts are studied for an entire term, taking a thematic approach: pupils engage in a range of writing tasks as well as exploring different associated fiction and non-fiction texts in and around the topic's genre and underpinning cultural capital.
English in Year 7 gives students a through overview of secondary English in which a range of writing skills are practised in different forms as well as analysis of a broad range of texts to enhance engagement and investment in their love of English.
Beginning with the study of Barnsley-based A Kestrel for a Knave, students move through the year to an exploration of power and love in literature in their study of Shakespeare’s magical The Tempest, and finally delve into myths and legends with a particular focus on epic poetry.
In Year 8, students continue to study a range of writing skills and analysis of both fiction and non-fiction texts. Beginning the year with a seasonal exploration of the supernatural, the Gothic genre is explored through Dracula (and other texts) in the first term, followed by Shakespeare’s gory classic of Macbeth, through which students explore conflict through the play and an anthology of powerful poetry, and then finish the year by looking to the past in their study of short stories across the ages.
Key Stage 4
All students study separate GCSEs in English Language and English Literature, following the AQA specifications. The first half of Year 9 is focused on securing students’ skills for the GCSEs, before moving onto completing the examined content towards the end of Year 9 and throughout Years 10 and 11. We take an integrated approach to the course, with linguistic and literary skills being taught side-by-side.
In GCSE English Language, students analyse a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Students also refine their writing skills, both for creative purposes (including writing descriptions and narratives) and to give their views for different audiences. Finally, spoken language is enhanced, with a separate grade being awarded for presentation skills.
GCSE English Literature exposes students to the full range of the literary canon. As expected, Shakespeare is an important part of the course, with a play (typically Romeo and Juliet) being considered in detail. In addition, students analyse a nineteenth-century novel (such as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde) and a modern text (such as An Inspector Calls). A range of poetry (consisting of set works published since 1789 and contemporary unseen poems) completes the course.
At A Level, both English Language (following the AQA specification) and English Literature (following AQA Specification A) are offered. To make full use of the Faculty’s expertise, each class’s lessons are split between two teachers.
Students opting to study A Level English Language look at how language is used in everyday life and how it reflects the world around us, exploring real life, modern formats from online review forums such as Trip Advisor or Mumsnet, to advertisements and even articles from the likes of The Guardian or Buzzfeed. Year 12 students are introduced to the key concepts and skills, such as understanding grammatical functions and applying them to different contexts, in order to analyse both written and oral language and explore the representations within. The diversity of language – including differences between genders, social groups and regions – is also studied, along with expressive writing skills, where students have opportunity to express their opinion and those of theorists studied in a creative way. In Year 13, children’s language development and language change are introduced and analysed. Students will complete Non-exam assessments (coursework), over the two years, consisting of a piece of original writing and a language investigation into an area of the student’s own interest.
Students deciding to study A Level Literature will discover an exciting range of texts representative of the canon, reading widely across time and topic. The course will not only encourage students to debate and challenge interpretations of other readers, but also develop their own informed and personal responses. In Year 12, students will explore a thematic topic of ‘Love Through the Ages’, incorporating works of poetry, Shakespeare and prose, where students will consider the nature of romantic love; the emotions of jealousy and guilt through to social conventions and taboos. Students will also explore texts written in the modern day, allowing reflection on literature’s engagement with some of the social, political and personal issues which have helped to shape the latter half of the 20th century. Such texts include Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Tennesse Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire and the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy. In Year 13, students will have the opportunity to develop their own interests by completing an Independent Critical study, which could comprise of exploring representations of race and ethnicity, sexuality and gender in comparative texts. Over the two years, students will be equipped to engage critically and creatively to help deepen their appreciation and understanding of English Literature.
Regardless of other subject choices, any sixth former who does not have a pass in GCSE English Language is given the opportunity to re-sit this vital qualification. Success rates are considerably above national averages.
Students can choose from a number of English clubs, including the editorial team for the school newspaper, The Torch.
The Faculty organises a number of trips, such as visits to theatres, the Harry Potter tour at the Warner Bros Studios, Grimm and Co. (Rotherham's only apothecary), the Rotherham Children’s Book Awards, Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon and, for sixth form students, study days at local universities and a cultural visit to London.
Throughout the year, there is a robust, detailed programme of support for students who are working towards final examinations.
The Faculty of English is housed in fifteen classrooms, mostly on the first floor of the main school building. Each classroom contains an interactive whiteboard and visualiser, along with a class set of dictionaries. One classroom is a dedicated ICT suite. In addition, the Faculty has its own set of Chromebooks and iPads, as well as a number of video cameras. The large collection of novels, novellas, short stories, plays, poetry collections, textbooks, DVDs and specialist computer software used for teaching is continually refreshed. The Faculty enjoys excellent links with the library.