The aim of the English curriculum at Bedford Free School is to combine what we believe to be the essentials of literacy in the traditional sense of reading and writing with the broader notion of cultural literacy. To ensure the former, we have a rigorous, knowledge-based approach to grammar, spelling and punctuation. For the latter we ensure our students are introduced to what might be regarded as ‘difficult texts’ from year 7. Combined with our daily DEAR (drop everything and read) sessions, pupils at BFS are able to draw upon a broad range of social and historical ‘contexts’, which may be applied to many other texts of similar periods, genres and linguistic structures.
Whilst there is much to ‘memorise’ in English at BFS (in terms of cultural, thematic, contextual and linguistic features) we encourage active teaching and learning. Our teachers demonstrate and explain, but also continually interact with pupils through well-constructed questioning. All Key Stage 3 pupils are required to learn a Shakespeare speech off by heart each year, but they are also given the opportunity to act and bring this great poetry to life. We also believe that all pupils should be given the opportunity to practice public speaking and practically employ the age-old features of oratory and rhetoric for public speaking, which they will have identified in their reading.
With the combined knowledge, understanding and practical skills acquired in the study of English Language and Literature at BFS, we firmly believe all pupils will be well prepared for future academic progress at 6th Form, University and lifelong learning. They will be literate in every sense of that word, and ready to use, understand and interpret the English language throughout their lives.
Year 7 begins with an introduction to Classical Mythology and its influence on later works of literature. Here we begin a journey into the cultural and historical ‘contexts’ that help make sense of literature through the ages. This basic understanding of ‘intertextuality’ will grow throughout a pupil’s time at BFS. From the start, grammar knowledge and writing skills are covered in at least one lesson a week (see BFS Essential Grammar and Terminology). As the year progresses, revision and ‘review’ lessons are introduced.
For those struggling, there will be a corrective reading programme suited to the needs of the group (working on comprehension, vocabulary and grammar). An extra teacher will work with small groups with decoding issues, following a phonics-based programme.
Building on year 7, we begin with a chronological journey through various literary and historical eras. In addition to the linguistic features in question, we will address the social and historical contexts of each period and link writers with the monarchs of their time.
For those struggling, there will continue to be a corrective reading programme suited to the needs of the group (working on comprehension, vocabulary and grammar). An extra teacher will work with small groups with decoding issues, following a phonics-based programme.
Literary Eras – Various texts in their time
Section A – Shakespeare: students will answer one question on Macbeth. They will be required to write in detail about an extract from the play and then to write about the play as a whole. In preparation they will study context, close reading for language and overall themes and characters.
Section B – The 19th-century novel: pupils will answer one question on A Christmas Carol. They will be required to write in detail about an extract from the novel and then to write about the novel as a whole. In preparation they will study context, close reading for language and overall themes and characters
Section A – Modern texts: pupils will answer one essay question (34 marks) from a choice of two on their An Inspector Calls
Section B – Poetry: pupils will answer one comparative question (30 marks) on one named poem printed on the paper and one other poem from their chosen anthology cluster.
Section C – Unseen poetry: Pupils will answer one question on one unseen poem (24 marks) and one short (8 mark) question comparing this poem with a second unseen poem.
For the award of the GCSE in English Language pupils must offer all three assessments.
All texts in the examination will be unseen.
Section A – Reading: One unseen prose fiction text
Section B – Writing: Descriptive or narrative writing
Reading (40 marks) (25%) – one single text
Section A: Reading: One non-fiction text and one literary non-fiction text
Section B: Writing: Writing to present a viewpoint
Reading (40 marks) (25%) – two linked texts
Writing (40 marks) (25%)
Presenting/responding to questions and feedback use of Standard English
Mr Scanlan, Head of English: email@example.com
Content coming soon…
Because we know how important reading is in ensuring young people grow into well-educated, thoughtful and successful members of society, we encourage all pupils to read widely both inside and outside of the classroom. We expect pupils at BFS to have a personal reading book with them at all times, and many make use of the school library to select an engaging text they can read for pleasure. Pupils also read with their tutors for thirty minutes a day during DEAR (drop everything and read). During this time, tutors select a text from a range of classic adult and children’s literature, and the whole class read together, with individuals reading aloud whilst the rest of the class follow along. Not only is this an enjoyable and important process – sharing and discussing books is something to be valued in its own right – it also supports pupils’ study of English literature, by preparing them for the more challenging novels they will study and analyse in great detail in their English lessons.
This is the Times Educational Supplement’s top 100 books to read before you leave secondary school, as voted by teachers across the country. This is not a ‘definitive’ list. It is just a snapshot, but you might wish to look up a title that interests you, or ask our librarian for more information.