English and Literacy

“In English we learn about different stories and the people in them.  I like writing about things that have happened in the stories and what I would do instead if I was in the story” Charlie

At The Valley School we follow the National Curriculum.

The overarching aim for English in the National Curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping students with the skills to communicate in both the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through a variety of plays, poems, fiction, non-fiction, and media. In studying English, students develop skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing. This enables them to express themselves creatively and imaginatively and to communicate with others effectively through their preferred means of communication.

Students at The Valley are encouraged to participate in challenging activities and engaging lessons. They are taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate, as well as continuing to develop their skills in working collaboratively with their peers when reading, writing and speaking across the curriculum. They are also taught to write for a variety of purposes and audiences across a range of contexts. They develop their knowledge of vocabulary and grammar through their preferred mode of communication. Our students study texts and authors more appropriate to their age, for example studying modern teenage authors like Michael Morpurgo alongside classical writers like Shakespeare or Dickens. Carefully chosen stories and texts are used to allow students to experience texts that they can enjoy and access independently which also facilitate an immediate interest and motivation. Our English curriculum allows students to widen their horizons and experience and enjoy texts from a wide range. Developing skills in reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary and spoken English are vital to allow and support access to all other areas of the curriculum. Beyond this, it builds the foundations of enjoyment of literature that students can develop throughout the rest of their lives.

Our English curriculum promotes the highest possible academic achievement for all our students. In KS4, we offer various qualifications. Step up to English helps Entry Level students build basic and relevant literacy skills. Even though it is suitable for students of all ages, we tend to offer it to our Y10 students.

Students also have the opportunity to take Functional English Level 1 and Level 2 exams. This qualification gives students practical skills for the modern world and helps them get the most from life, learning and work. This specification aims to ensure students have good communication skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening and it assesses whether students can use these skills in everyday situations.

For our most able pupils, we also offer GCSE English Language option. This accreditation consists of 3 components and requires students to study 20th Century Literature Reading and Creative Prose as well as 19th and 21st Century Non-Fiction Reading and Transactional/Persuasive Writing.

Year 7

Students explore a variety of themes in English. Their teachers choose texts that stimulate their interests using both fiction and non-fiction texts to develop their reading, writing and speaking and listening skills. Additional phonics, grammar, spelling and handwriting skills are all incorporated to further develop their learning.  This in turn has assisted cross curricular learning.

Year 8 & 9

Students explore various themes whilst developing a variety of speaking, listening, reading and writing skills.  There is a strong emphasis on developing phonic knowledge and skills i.e. letter sounds and recognising the grapheme and letter names.  Phonic sounds, blending and segmenting are taught and practised through the use of games, rhymes and stories.  Alongside this, they will develop spelling, punctuation and grammar skills through a variety of basic writing, speaking and listening tasks, some of which will be through the use of Information Technology.

Students explore the theme of “Spooks and Spirits”, with a specific focus on discussion, whilst developing a variety of speaking and listening skills. In addition they have taken part in a range of tasks, building upon their reading and writing skills.

They explore the work of Roald Dahl as an author, as well as learning about the man himself. To support their understanding further they carry out a variety of activities, including reading poetry, studying character traits and looking for the hidden messages within a story.

As the years progress, students will be reading a variety of texts that are structured in different ways, reading for a range of purposes. This will include both fictional and non-fictional genres.

Year 10

English in this year is divided into a number of units.  We explore both fictional and true-life “Escape Stories”. This concludes with the students writing their own escape story. We then move onto poems and explore various themes from the Anthology poetry for WJEC entry level exam. We move on to “The Woman in Black”, exploring the themes of fear, supernatural, isolation and the Conspiracy of Silence. We delve into a Shakespearean tale, “Macbeth”, examining conflict. In addition to this we engage regularly with a variety of reading opportunities, both at home through our reading books, in English lessons, in our form groups and other subjects. We continue to develop our writing, speaking and listening skills in the same way.  Spellings are set each week in English lessons, with the addition of coursework and/or grammar work.

Year 11

Most students work on an Entry Level accreditation component “All About Me”.  This involves completing a piece of extended writing, written in the first person.  An allied oral component is also completed.  Students also write up a pair of transactional letters, before practice of their controlled tasks commences. The controlled task is a study of a media-based subject and involves numerous skills such as comprehension.

Other students are doing theme-based work that also encompasses development of reading, writing and speaking and listening skills.

In general, students will continue to develop a range of English skills to further develop their confidence in the use of language and will be assisted where necessary in this regard.  Those who display the aptitude to do so may also take GCSE exams.