The English curriculum at Loreto has three key focuses: reading, writing and speaking and listening while it also seeks to support the wider growth and development of students through supporting our school’s Catholic Ethos, PSHE and Citizenship as well as whole-school literacy. Progression is built into the curriculum to ensure that, at each key stage, students build on their prior experiences while preparing for the key milestones of GCSE and A Level examinations.
Under the umbrella of reading, the curriculum is designed to ensure that every student is equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to read a full range of fiction and non-fiction texts critically and with confidence. This aspect of the curriculum is closely linked to the objectives of the whole-school literacy policy, ensuring that students possess the skills they need to access the curriculum in all subject areas. In addition to more functional aspects of reading, the curriculum also ensures that students develop an appreciation of a range of texts from the literary canon including those drawn from different eras and cultures. At GCSE, students follow the AQA curriculum in both English Language and Literature which challenges them to build on the skills developed at KS3. At A Level, students follow the AQA English Literature B course which challenges the students to continue this progression as they look at even more challenging texts in an increasingly analytical and evaluative manner. Reading for pleasure is a real focus and we actively promote this through conversations with students and recommended reading lists.
With regard to writing, the curriculum supports the development of three key areas. The first is ensuring that students possess the knowledge and skills necessary to write with technical accuracy, the second that students are given the opportunity to develop their creative writing and the third that they develop their skills in non-fiction writing. At KS3, students build on the writing skills they have developed at KS2 with a focus on developing their vocabulary, the use of a range of sentence structures and punctuation for effect as well as focusing on a use of rhetorical techniques and imagery in their writing. In addition, students will be challenged to write with a clear sense of purpose, audience and the conventions of different forms ranging from article writing to prose fiction. At GCSE, students will be challenged to build on their experiences at KS3 in order to further hone their skills in these key areas. At KS5 further advances in the use of vocabulary and structural techniques are focused on in order to support the development of effective advanced level essay writing.
Speaking and Listening
The third skill developed in the curriculum: speaking and listening, focuses on nurturing the students’ ability to express themselves articulately, adapting the register of their speech to context and audience, while ensuring that they develop the complementary skill of critical listening. Over the course of KS3 and KS4, skills in individual, paired and group interaction are nurtured and formally assessed. Classroom discussion is also used as a means of developing the analytical and discursive skills needed in order to nurture the critical thinking skills needed for success in English Literature at KS5.
English is taught in the attractive Mary Ward building, which consists of five classrooms and a studio.
Key Stage 3
The English course in Years 7, 8 & 9 offers a varied and engaging way for students to develop their Reading, Writing and Speaking and Listening skills. Speaking and Listening involves individual talks and group and paired work as well as drama-focused activities The work covered includes: creating stories, non-fiction, Gothic literature, autobiographies, diaries, media, and Shakespeare, as well as the study of texts such as ‘Private Peaceful’ and ‘The Woman In Black’. We have developed our Key Stage Three Curriculum to provide specific preparation for the new GCSE courses.
Every year ends with the Drama Festival, in which each form scripts and produces a play, according to a set theme. This is a competitive event with the best entries shown to parents.
In Years 7 and 8 we set 30 minutes homework twice a week. In Year 9 we set 45 minutes homework twice a week. In addition to this, pupils are heavily encouraged to read for pleasure and to share their enjoyment of books with others. We also offer Key Stage 3 pupils the chance to meet authors and experience visiting theatre companies performing set texts through the wonderful ‘Globe Players’.
All pupils take GCSE exams in both English Language and English Literature. We use AQA specifications 8700 and 8702. The students will be assessed by terminal examinations at the end of Year 11. There is a separate Speaking and Listening assessment, noted on the certificate. Literature includes examination questions on modern drama, a 19th century text, a Shakespeare play and prepared and unseen poetry. In English Language, students will develop the skills needed to explore unseen fiction and non-fiction extracts, and they will also use descriptive and persuasive writing styles.
Throughout the course, students are taught and encouraged to use standard English in speech and writing, to discuss and share ideas and interpretations, to write fluently and accurately and to read with understanding and enjoyment and as widely as possible.
Students can expect to spend two to three hours every week on homework. We look for every possible opportunity to take pupils to see texts in performance and we invite theatre groups to perform for the students.
Useful websites and online newspapers:
GCSE Exam Preparation:
NB. All Year 11 students will be part of a specific English Revision Team where targeted resources and support will be provided.
A-level English Literature
Students study A-level English Literature AQA Specification 7717.
This course involves the close study of texts with a view to developing critical skills, and includes poetry, prose and drama. Students study at least one play by Shakespeare, as well as works by important classic and modern authors. These might include writers such as Arthur Miller and Thomas Hardy. The course will involve two pieces of coursework, which will be worth 20% of the final grade. They will have two examinations at the end of Year 13, which will require students to demonstrate the skills and understanding they have developed over the two years. Students are expected to show understanding of the contexts in which the texts were written. They should also be able to show knowledge of wider reading around the subject. Students can expect to spend at least six hours every week on homework, including reading time. We offer students the chance to take part in theatre visits and attend lectures on the texts they are studying.
English and Media Centre magazine (please see your English teacher for the login information):
The department engages in many extra-curricular activities to celebrate English beyond the classroom. There is a Magazine Club which produces a school magazine each term and the students love being involved in this. Each year, in collaboration with the Librarian, with whom we work closely, we have a ‘Reading Week’ for Years 7, 8 and 9 with visits from writers and a chance to take part in a sponsored ‘Readathon’, which usually raises over £2000 for charity.The Debate Club has been a real success this year and four different teams competed in a competition run by the Rotary Club of St Albans. The club has been brilliant for the students’ confidence and verbal literacy skills. One Year 8 team are now in the next round of the competition which will take place soon! The Globe Players have visited Loreto College several times this year and they have performed a variety of plays to students in Years 7, 9, 10 and 11. They are such an engaging and dynamic company and help bring Shakespeare to life. A Sixth Form Book Club also runs which gives the students an opportunity to read a book of their choice and discuss it over cake at lunchtime.
English & Careers@Loreto
Students who take English Literature at A-level often choose to study English, Law, History and other Humanities subjects at university. Career opportunities could include journalism, law, teaching, work in media and professional writing. For further guidance, please see Mrs Moran in the English department.
Want to find out more about English work skills, then check out this infographic poster, which can also be found on the Maths corridor.