Plymstock School English and Media Department
The English Department at Plymstock School is comprised of a team of highly experienced and dedicated specialists. The approach to learning shared by the team is defined by a commitment to innovative and challenging teaching that is student-centred. We recognise that every student is entitled to our highest expectations and support to become a learner for life and to develop a passion for learning.
The department shares a love of literature imparting to students the value of literary study which is at the heart of the subject’s artistic core. We hope to encourage all students to be aware of the links between what they study in lessons and the wider world both in terms of specific skills and understanding of others.
At present the department consists of fourteen teachers led by the Head of English, who is supported by: a Second in Department who also manages Key Stage 5; a Key Stage 3 Manager who also has responsibility for Media Studies, a Key Stage 4 Manager and a Literacy Coordinator.
As English is a core curriculum subject, all students in the school are required to follow English courses. Currently in Years 7, 8 and 9 students receive 7 hours of teaching over a two week timetable. In Years 10 and 11 they also receive 7 hours over a two week timetable.
In Years 7, 8 and 9 students are taught in mixed attainment groups. However, in each year group there are two smaller classes that have more support with the development of their English skills. Media Studies is offered as an option at GCSE, the Media course is supplemented by work carried out in the English curriculum.
Homework is set once a week for students in Years 7 through to 11. The amount of time required for this homework to be completed is thirty minutes in Year 7 and Year 8, forty-five minutes in Year 9 and sixty minutes in Year 10 and 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.
Students follow the AQA GCSE Specifications for English Language and English Literature and GCSE English. All students are entered for both GCSE Language and Literature except for a small group of students who are only entered for GCSE English to focus on developing their literacy skills. Media Studies follows the AQA course.
At Key Stage 5 students also follow the AQA specifications and can study: A Levels in English Literature, Language and Literature and Media Studies.
The English Department has created a website to support their GCSE and A Level students. The website consists of classroom resources, videos and website links to help assist the learning of students when they are studying at home. The resources will support students when preparing for Controlled Assessments, A Level Coursework and GCSE and A Level examinations.
The English team at Plymstock runs various activities throughout the school year, from book clubs and ‘Readathons’ to theatre visits. We like to encourage our students to experience ‘English’ outside of the classroom and our intention is to create a learning environment based on fun; the students attend through choice and interest.
The department works closely in collaboration with the school’s librarian in developing students’ literacy skills and their love of reading. Students are given the opportunity to join book clubs that are coordinated by the librarian; initial choices of books are taken from contemporary fiction and literary classics. There have also been a number of visiting authors to the school that have enthused students such as Cathy Hopkins, Tim Bowler, Sophie McKenzie, Joe Craig, Marcus Sedgwick and Andy McNab. Students have participated in writer’s 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.
GCSE students have the opportunity to have additional help with GCSE coursework after school and in the Easter and half term holidays in the form of Easter and Half Term Revision Schools. Students are also invited to take part in theatre visits. We have formed links with Plymouth University taking a group of Gifted and Talented students to visit the University to work with ITT students in the Autumn term.