English and Literacy at The Polygon School
Our aim as a department is that all pupils leave The Polygon School with the core skills required to read and write and have some exam success, also to have achieved at least one English qualification during their education with us. At both KS3 and KS4 students will cover the three strands that make up the English curriculum: Reading, Writing Speaking and Listening. We aim to provide an academic, but rounded education that gives every pupil the opportunity to succeed.
With small classes and a personalised teaching approach, we provide an English curriculum to try and meet the needs of all our pupils, closing gaps in missed education where required. We do not shy away from tests and examinations and we encourage our pupils to start preparing for their GCSEs from year 8 where they are entered for the AQA Step Up to English Entry Level qualification. We aim to test all pupils reading and spelling ages twice a year and we are currently focused on a whole school reading initiative to improve the low reading ages as well as to challenge all our boys to push themselves further.
As a school, we offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities and projects for pupils in all years including after school English club, creative writing club, spoken word artist’s performances, workshops, trips to develop creativity and theatre trips.
Key Stage 3
Pupils study a range of texts, both fiction and non-fiction in line with national curriculum requirements. They will learn to develop their own ideas and opinions about texts and how to comment on the language choices made by authors. As well as texts from different cultures, they will also study texts from the English Literary Heritage, including work by Shakespeare and contemporary fiction.
Throughout, pupils will begin to develop a wide range of vocabulary, elevate their ability to organise and structure sentences grammatically and whole texts coherently, also to improve essential presentation skills that include accurate punctuation and correct spelling. Through individual reading and writing, pupils will appreciate the importance of audience and purpose and how to adapt and vary their writing in different situations.
Key Stage 4
The English language is a core subject and pupils will follow the syllabus for Edexcel iGCSE English Language. The iGCSE is assessed through two exams:
The aims and objectives of this qualification are to enable pupils to:
From year 8 the boys will be entered into the AQA Entry Level English with the opportunity to achieve either a level 1 or level 2.
From year 9 the boys will follow the AQA functional skills qualification and be entered for the level 1 qualification.
From year 10 through to year 11 the boys will be entered into the iGCSE English language.
At the start of each topic, the pupils will complete an initial assessment to identify current strengths and weaknesses in that area. This is followed by a series of scaffolded lessons which are sequenced to build and develop the required skills before completing a final assessment at the end of the half term.
During the build-up to examinations, the boys will complete a number of papers in order to familiarise themselves with the layout and style of questions, allowing them to learn and understand key vocabulary and to ensure that they understand what is being asked of them.
We are working towards raising the reading ages of all boys across the school. All pupils have an aLexia UK account which is a reading intervention bespoke to each pupil, and we are monitoring the number of minutes the boys read per week which is then rewarded weekly as an incentive. Data is collected from Lexiaand Lexploreand the number of reading minutes is summarised and shared with tutors so that pupils that are not keeping up with the recommended reading within the school are identified, as well as highlighting areas of their learning they are struggling with.
All key stage 3 the boys have 1 reading lesson per week where they will use the Lexia programme as well as study a relevant book as a class. In addition to this, our boys are expected to read at least twice a week for a minimum of15 minutes, as well as complete a weekly class comprehension sheet within their tutor group. A range of motivating lessons is planned with short and engaging tasks. Boys receive 1:1 support where necessary and lessons are differentiated for all boys’ needs. Additionally, English intervention sessions take place weekly for pupils who are identified as needing extra support with an area of their learning and will have additional learning opportunities to help keep them on track.
All pupils are stretched to achieve their full potential and an after-school club is offered weekly. A range of experiences is also offered to engage learning and broaden the pupil’s knowledge and understanding of the world.
As a department, we are working hard to prepare the boys for their iGCSE exams in order for them to try and achieve a grade 4 or above. Starting the process in year 8 allows the boys to become familiar with taking exams and to try and reduce the pressure ‘on the day'. We also enter those who are ready to take their exam early to give them several opportunities to be successful. Over the last few years, we have seen a rise in the number of pupils achieving higher grades, especially within the iGCSE.