English - Ratcliffe College

English – Ages 11-16

The English Department is an innovative, passionate and highly-motivated department that strives to ensure all students achieve their potential as critical readers, writers, and speakers. We aim to encourage active, curious and independent learners and strive for our students to become effective communicators who are in full control of the language they use.  Nurturing a love and appreciation of Literature in our students is also our goal.  English is challenging and varied; it requires alertness and imagination; it gives us a sense of who we are and an understanding of others: it is at the heart of all that we do. 

We see reading as crucial to success at all levels and encourage students to read widely and often.  Reading is important, not only for English, but has been proven to increase success in other subjects.  In Years 7 and 8 students are given opportunities to develop their reading skills, through their Library lessons, World Book Day events, book clubs and visiting authors.  Reading lists are available to all year groups and the school librarian is always eager to help students choose appropriate books to read for pleasure. We want our students to enjoy reading – it will not only enrich their education, but also enable them to grow intellectually and emotionally.  Junior Book Club and the Carnegie Award Shadowing Group are examples of the extra-curricular and enrichment opportunities we offer.  Plenty of interesting and heated discussion is always generated through books. 

Spoken Language development is also very important: public speaking competitions, group debating, discussions and presentations develop students’ all-important communication skills in an interesting, enjoyable and non-threatening way. 

Lunchtime clubs range from Debating Club, public speaking, creative writing, independent reading projects and external writing competitions and speaking competitions. Theatre trips and visits are run throughout the year, when possible, fully supporting students’ interests. 

Years 7-8: Establishing a Firm Foundations

Throughout Key Stage 3 students explore a range of writing styles through the study of novels, plays, poetry and non-fiction texts. For example, in Year 7, explore a rich selection of both fiction (including a novel) and non-fiction texts as they learn about how to write with impact and read perceptively and analytically. Reading and writing poetry introduces students to our literary history and encourages a creative use of language, while studying Dystopian fiction allows students to view writing’s relationship with society and to investigate genre. In Year 8 students learn about how language is used effectively in non-fiction and transactional writing as well as enjoying Romeo and Juliet. and poetry from a wide range of cultures. They will also study a novel as a class. Students experience writing in a variety of contexts, including imaginative writing, analytical essays, poetry and transactional writing. They are encouraged to explore their ideas through debate and discussion, and the use of Drama in lessons also provides a wealth of possibility for exploring texts. Effective grammar and spelling are reinforced alongside all of our teaching. 

Years 9/10/11: Working for GCSE Success

During Key Stage 4, in Years 9, 10 and 11, students are placed in ability groups for both GCSE Language and Literature.  There are classes dedicated to the study of GCSE English Language alone which ensures that students are able to optimize their potential in this crucial subject. Pupils are encouraged to explore a range of genres and develop their own opinions about a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, in addition to learning to write for a variety of purposes and audiences. In English Literature, plays, novels and poetry are chosen carefully to engage our learners. We aim to include a diverse selection of texts so that students are exposed to a wide range of cultures. Essay writing skills are developed over the courses to encourage technical precision and mature and perceptive analysis. Spoken Language is also assessed at GCSE so pupils are given plenty of opportunity to develop the skills required for effective communication.