Plymstock School English and Media Department
The English Department at Plymstock School is comprised of a team of highly experienced, creative specialists who aim to foster a love of language and literature in our students. The approach to learning, shared by the team, is defined by a commitment to innovative and challenging teaching that is highly student-centred. We strive to inspire our students through our curriculum design and to enable students, of all abilities, to achieve excellence in English through our high expectations for each student.
We explore and challenge prejudice and stereotyping so our students are tolerant, open minded, thoughtful people prepared for life in modern Britain. Our curriculum design develops students’ ability to speak and write fluently enabling them to communicate their ideas and feelings to others.
At present the department consists of 14 teachers led by the Head of English, who is supported by: a Second in Department who also manages Key Stage 4, a Key Stage 5 Manager who also has responsibility for Media Studies, a Key Stage 3 Manager and the whole school Literacy Coordinator.
As English is a core curriculum subject, all students in the school are required to follow English courses. Currently, in Year 7 through to Year 11, students receive 8 hours of teaching over a two-week timetable.
Homework is usually set once a week for students in Year 7 to Year 11. A range of different homework activities will be set, including tasks such as producing short pieces of creative and analytical writing, working on specific skills, preparation for assessments, spelling exercises, reading related to classwork and contextual research.
In all years, students are broadly set according to their attainment; setting arrangements take into account Key Stage 2 results as well as internal school results’ data. Student progress is closely tracked throughout the year. Our Key Stage 3 curriculum consolidates and builds upon the students’ learning at Key Stage 2 as they study the Key Stage 3 National Curriculum. Students are also introduced to AQA GCSE skills from Year 7.
At Key Stage 4, all students are entered for both AQA English Language and English Literature. They continue to develop their writing, reading and oracy through a range of assessment tasks and exploration of a variety of texts. Our curriculum plan prepares students for the challenges of the examinations and for their life beyond school. A GCSE resit class is also available to students as a twilight class held after school twice a week.
Key Stage 5 students, through the study of language and literature, have further opportunities to write in imaginative ways and are introduced to a wide range of texts and interpretations. The courses are delivered by teachers who are knowledgeable and committed. Students follow the AQA specifications and can study A Levels in Language and Literature, English Literature and Media Studies.
The English team at Plymstock delivers various enrichment activities throughout the school year; examples include: a creative writing club, the BBC Young Reporter project, theatre visits and a trip to Hogwarts! We like to encourage our students to have fun within the subject and to experience ‘English’ outside of the classroom. Our curriculum plan prepares students for the challenges of the examinations and for life beyond school.
In addition, the department works closely in collaboration with the school’s Library Manager in developing students’ literacy skills and their love of reading. Students are given the opportunity to join book and literacy clubs that are coordinated by the library team. There have also been a number of visiting authors to the school that have enthused students such as: Sophie McKenzie, Joe Craig, Marcus Sedgwick, Chris Bradford and Andy McNab. Students participate in writers’ workshops and discussions with the authors. This year students will, once again, be shadowing the judging of the Carnegie Award and will participate in the regional celebration of the shadowing event. Many students will also participate in our own in-house book award, ‘The Hogwards’.
GCSE students have the opportunity to receive additional support with GCSE assessment work after school and in the Easter and half term holidays. Furthermore, students are invited to take part in regular theatre visits to enhance their knowledge of the GCSE and A Level set texts. In recent years we have seen “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” and “Macbeth”. This year, our students will have the opportunity to also see “An Inspector Calls” and “The Mousetrap”.