Subject Leader - Miss A Smith (stsmitha1@selstonhigh.org.uk)

At Selston High School, we are keen on engaging students within English. We are driven by the concept of “Powerful Knowledge” and sequence our 5 year Curriculum backwards, to ensure all students are enabling the skills necessary for GCSE. Our values in English extend outside of the Literature studied, and we hope to instil British Values and awaken intellectual and emotional curiosity inside each of our pupils.

Year 7

When students begin at Selston High School, we are keen to develop their own PHSE understanding of their society and the world around them. Students learn fundamental values about safeguarding, friendship and other cultures throughout the novel “928 miles from Home”. We chose this book as it is written by a writer from Nottingham and talks about how young people can achieve their aspirations against all odds.
In January, students move on to the engaging and enjoyed module titled “Heroes and Villains”. Here, pupils are exposed to a wide range of literary texts throughout time, focusing on what makes someone a hero or villain. As a department, we are keen to discuss fictional and non-fiction texts, in a way that develops students own analytical perceptions and has them questioning their own beliefs and concepts. We look at modern day heroes from News articles throughout the year, and date back to the Shakespearian classic representations of antagonist and protagonist.
We end Year 7 with the politically charged classic “Animal Farm”. We firmly believe students should be exposed to a wide literary canon, and that they understand the allegories that can be transferred to our politically diverse society today. This develops students understanding of the real world around them, and establishes a connection of understanding and questioning that they can relate to their own experiences and world views.

Year 8

We begin the year with an understanding and development of Homelessness. This is done via the novel “Stone Cold”. Students are encouraged to look at issues within our society in England, but also in their local area. This develops empathy and understanding from our students about the world around them, and the issues that people may face on a day to day basis. Students then progress their studies with a look at crime and murder fiction throughout the literary canon, with an extensive look at the well-known Sherlock Holmes and his development of suspense and tension.
Students then study their first full Shakespeare text through the classic “Romeo and Juliet”. Students are often aware of the general basis of the text, and we teach students how to build up their resilience when looking at classic Literature, and to not be deterred by the unknown. Contextual information is then developed, which will be utilised and expanded on throughout their GCSE studies.
To complete the year, students will look at the infamous classic “Of Mice and Men”. We believe that the skills built throughout the year will enable student’s inference and characterisation skills. Students will continue to develop their language analysis and expand their repertoire of famous texts throughout history, developing engagement and a passion for English.

Due to the pandemic, we would encourage students to purchase the texts at home to coincide with lessons published on Teams.

Facilities and resources

The department has its own suite of classrooms that are equipped for the teaching of English. Students also use the ICT facilities around school at times to enrich their English education. In KS3 students are given the opportunity to become “English Leaders” and complete a course on leadership during their enrichment time. Over the next year, the English leaders will be working towards running an after-school library and reading club so younger students can engage with reading and develop their literacy skills.