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 and Speaking and Listening. We aim to provide an academic, but rounded education that allows the pupil 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 students 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 students reading and spelling ages twice a year and we are currently focused on a whole school reading initiative to improve the low reading ages that many of our boys have.
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 artists performances, poet workshops, and 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 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, students will appreciate the importance of audience and purpose and how to adapt and vary their writing in different situations.
Key Stage 4
English language is a core subject and pupils will follow the syllabus for Edexcel iGCSE English Language. The iGCSE is assessed through two exams:
1. Paper 1 - Non-Fiction Texts and Transactional Writing.
2. Paper 2 – Poetry and Prose Texts and Imaginative Writing.
The aims and objectives of this qualification are to enable students to:
• Read a wide range of texts fluently and with good understanding.
• Read critically and use the knowledge gained from wide reading to inform and improve their writing.
• Write effectively and coherently using Standard English appropriately.
• Use grammar correctly, punctuate, and spell accurately.
• Acquire and apply a wide vocabulary alongside knowledge and understanding of grammatical terminology and linguistic conventions for reading, writing, and spoken language.
- AQA Entry Level Step Up to English 1&2
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.
- AQA Functional Skills Level 1&2
From year 9 the boys will follow the AQA functional skills qualification and be entered for the level 1 qualification. Those who achieve level 1 will then go on and work towards level 2 in year 10.
- IGCSE English Language
From year 9 through to year 11, the boys will be entered into the iGCSE English language.
At the start of each topic at the start of a new half term, the boys will complete an initial assessment to identify current strengths and weaknesses in that area. This is followed by a series of scaffolded lessons that 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 several papers 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.
This year we are working towards raising the reading ages of all boys across the school. We have purchased Lexia UK which is a reading intervention bespoke to each student, and we are monitoring the number of minutes the boys read per week which is then rewarded each week as an incentive. To monitor the progress of the boys at the start and end of the academic year pupils will have their reading and spelling ages tested which will be shared across the school. Likewise, data is collected from Lexia and the amount of reading minutes is summarised and shared with tutors so that students can be identified who are not keeping up with the recommended reading within the school.
All key stage 3 boys have 1 reading lesson per week where they will use the Lexia programme, read and study a relevant book as a class as well as develop their comprehension skills. Boys are expected to read at least twice a week for a minimum of15 minutes, as well as completing 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.
All students are stretched to achieve their full potential and the after-school club is offered weekly.
A range of experiences is offered to engage learning and broaden the student’s knowledge and understanding of the world.
As a department, we are working hard to prepare the boys for their IGCSE exams for them to try and achieve a grade 4 or above. By starting the process in year 8 this 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 boys achieving more qualifications across all of the awards we offer.