Welcome to English at St. Francis Xavier School. We hope this section of the website will give you some insight into our department. For any more information, please contact the Head of Department, Mrs. Martin.
The English department is made up of enthusiastic, innovative experts who share a strong commitment to working towards the English Department Vision:
A team that creates proud, confident students who achieve their full potential by:
1. Inspiring and fostering an independent, resilient approach to learning
2. Engaging students through creative and relevant approaches
3. Challenging students to reflect on the skills they need to progress and succeed at Key Stage 3 and 4
4. Encouraging our students to grow spiritually, morally and socially
At both Key Stage 3 and 4 core skills are developed through: reading a rich and diverse variety of fiction and non-fiction texts; through writing for a range of audiences, contexts and purposes and through practising communicating effectively through speech. We encourage our pupils to become confident, adventurous and technically accurate writers and our teaching involves high levels of discussion tasks and drama-related activities. This enables our pupils to become increasingly articulate and coherent communicators.
Key Stage 3
Pupils receive at least 6 lessons of English per fortnight, with Year 7 and 8 pupils also studying drama for one lesson per fortnight. Students study thematic units that allow them to study a range of genres and text types through each unit. We formally assess work each half-term; each task set is assessed using a selection of criteria focused on reading, writing or speaking and listening. Each year culminates in an end-of-year examination which allows students to demonstrate the progress they have made over the year and allows the department to ensure that student begins the following year in the ability grouping that is most beneficial to them.
In Year 7 pupils begin with an introduction to the Gothic genre. Throughout the year pupils have the opportunity to study fiction, non-fiction, poetry, prose and drama, reading novels such as Roald Dahl’s The Witches, Shelley’s Frankenstein and Robert Swindell’s ‘Stone Cold’. They practise their non-fiction skills while exploring types of Travel Writing and get stormy with the study of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
Year 8 begins with Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Later in the year, they explore the whodunit genre with ‘Sherlock Holmes’. They are given an opportunity to ‘rant’ about an issue they feel strongly about with ‘4Thought’. They will also explore a wide range of poetry.
In Year 9 students begin the year by exploring Dystopian literature such as 1984, Brave New World and The Hunger Games, followed by the challenge for students of writing their own Dystopian opening. Throughout the year students study conflict poetry, poetic forms and a novel from a different cultural context, such as ‘Of Mice and Men’ before embarking on a Transition Unit that allows pupils to prepare for the rigours and demands of GCSE study. As part of this unit, students will sit a Transition Test that allows the department to identify their needs as they move into KS4.
Key Stage 4
Pupils follow the AQA English Language and English Literature Dual Award course in ability groupings, achieving two GCSE grades at the end of Year 11. All students are taught as individuals with the potential to succeed as highly as they hope to. Both GCSEs are now 100% examination. Students will use the skills they require for the Language course as they study the various Literature texts, as well as spending time perfecting exam technique.
The focus of our teaching and learning in Year 10 is our aim to equip all students with the skills and knowledge that will enable them to succeed in their final examination and beyond. Students develop skills in analysing fiction and non-fiction, including comparing perspectives across time. They are required to read ’unseen’ extracts from the 19th, 20th and 21st Century. They also demonstrate their writing ability, in both creative and non-fiction tasks.
In their preparation for Literature, students will study ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’, as well as some poetry from the AQA anthology.
Students will complete assessments half termly which relate to those aspects of the course which they have been focusing on in lessons. They will also complete both a Literature and Language paper in Year 10. All students are also required to complete a Spoken Language presentation, which is recorded and submitted as a stand-alone endorsement.
Students will study one of a choice of modern texts, such as ‘Lord of the Flies’, ‘An Inspector Calls’ and ‘Blood Brothers’, as well as poetry from the ‘Conflict’ cluster of the AQA Anthology, in preparation for their GCSE Examination.
Skills developed throughout Year 10 are built upon in Year 11, and students sit a mock GCSE which allows them to experience the challenge of the final GCSE. This also allows the department to identify target skills and pupils that may require further intervention prior to the exam.
As a department we are committed to ensuring that our students meet their potential and are able to demonstrate their progression through their academic life. In order to do this it is sometimes necessary to provide some students with additional support. Intervention strategies that the department have implemented and developed over a number of years have proved highly successful for many students. We adapt the intervention for the needs of the particular students. Strategies may include:
All pupils in year 7 and 8 are timetabled for one hour of Drama every weeks, for half of the year. Pupils complete a range of practical activities which develop their confidence in performing and speaking and listening, as well as improving their reading and interpretation skills.