“A word after a word after a word is power.”
― Margaret Atwood
English Department Curriculum at Newark Academy
Literature absorbs you; it possesses you and its demands are immediate, involving and powerful. Literature stirs curiosity, challenges expectations, breaks barriers and has spoken to inquisitive minds for centuries. Such is the emotional and intellectual scope of language that there is a poem, story, play or article somewhere for each and every one of us that can inspire, explain, provide aspiration, stimulation or solace.
English lies at the heart of school life, its study unlocking barriers to learning across the whole curriculum. When students can - not just read – but interpret and comprehend texts and words at their deepest level; their lives are enriched. We challenge and inspire our students to become the absolute best version of their literate selves and all that encompasses. Therefore, they are not just presented with beauty and intellectual challenge of the English curriculum, but with tools to achieve their potential across all other subjects. Indeed, English furnishes young people with vital skills that ensure they are never disadvantaged or silenced when they are older. As a result of their time with us they become increasingly confident, culturally rich, empathetic and are therefore ready to challenge societal expectations and injustice. They exhibit and model tolerance, self-regulation, awareness and respect.
Our holistic approach to curriculum design reflects the demands of the National Programme of Study for English, drawing on and developing student experiences at KS2 and “planning backwards” from KS5 but also goes beyond this; deeply informed by educational research and tried and tested pedagogy. Delivered by a team of highly skilled subject experts, we expose our students to a study of “whole literature” – avid readers ourselves, we are continually seek to bring the best of fiction and non-fiction to our students. We are unapologetic about our high expectations and aspirations and every text has been chosen because it is intrinsically “Great” and will challenge and enthral our students; engender debate and critical thinking. We do not shy away from contentious or difficult themes or topics, taking care to avoid “tokenism”, engage our students in a meaningful way. Issues such as diversity, marginalisation and social injustice are therefore carefully woven within and across units of work and provide both coherence and breadth across the whole English curriculum.
The Newark Academy English curriculum is therefore designed to:
Develop a lifelong love of reading: There is a real difference between a reading age and a comprehension age – our students develop the levels of comprehension and sophisticated vocabulary which means they are word rich – not disadvantaged by being word poor - and able to harness the power of written words. The manner students are introduced to texts of ever-increasing narrative complexity and ideas prepares them because our curriculum bridges the “gap” between “easily accessible” children’s and “difficult” adult Literature. Furthermore, we encourage autonomy, independence and self-reflection with explicit teaching of oracy strategies, reciprocal reading and a sequenced lessons. As a result, students not only find their voice but in terms of extended writing and rich analysis, oracy provides a clear scaffold - “talking like an expert” leads to “writing like an expert” and independence.
Do English justice by representing the diversity and “essence” of a genre and time by drawing on a broad curriculum that ranges from Old English and Medieval Literature to Modern Contemporary as well as including a great range of non-fiction. We teach students an appreciation of how writing has developed and the impact that gender, class, race, position in society, contexts and beliefs have had on Literature. Our intention is to prepare our students to be active and ethical citizens, who contribute to society and demonstrate an awareness of biased views. This is so they can challenge and make informed choices when confronted with prejudice, now and in the future.
Develop an appreciation of “HOW” writers create meaning and present their point of view and perspective: We encourage deep analysis of a text which leads to a rich understanding of the layers of literature. Through the study of literature promote high levels of literacy by teaching students to control ‘how’ they use language to enable students to craft like a writer and develop a sophisticated relationship with their “reader”
Open up students to the world of literature and art: Students also learn through educational experiences outside of the classroom. Through planned enrichment activities, such as theatre trips and cross curricula learning experiences with History, Geography and Art, we develop students’ cultural capital and help them make connections to the real world.
Links to useful resources
- GCSE Bitesize English Language:
- GCSE Bitesize English Literature:
- Mr Bruff youtube channel for revision: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCM2vdqz-7e4HAuzhpFuRY8w
- Oak National Academy remote learning support: https://classroom.thenational.academy/