The English curriculum at Rivers Academy improves and develops students’ literacy skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening) to enable them to effectively access and explore the world around them. We believe it is our duty to equip our students with the ability to communicate their personal beliefs and ideas. The texts we study are chosen to foster a love of reading and an appreciation of different types of literature and build students’ curiosity and critical thinking, creating compassionate adults. Our extracurricular activities such as Book Club, poetry slams and short story competitions encourage students to extend their learning outside of the classroom and allow for a safe, expressive space for their creativity and individuality.
At Rivers, we aim to grow students into confident learners by developing critical reading, writing and oracy skills in order to engage fully with the world around them.
We believe that literature reflects the society we live in and as such explore a range of high quality texts that delve into a wide array of themes and big ideas such as love, morality and what makes us human. Students will learn to develop their own personal responses and be encouraged to explore multiple points of views and challenge their already established perspectives to develop a deeper understanding of these.
From the start of Year 7, students will be supported and challenged to engage with the same texts, irrespective of their previous ability. We believe that every student can make excellent progress and tackle difficult texts in such a way that allows for a rich, deep exploration of whole texts for all students. This is continued and built upon each term until Year 11 and 13, where we intend for students to leave as clear communicators, keen critical thinkers and passionate individuals.
Excellent teaching underpins the implementation of our curriculum in English. The English team maintain high expectations, frequently use modelling, high level questioning and regular written and verbal feedback in order to create a purposeful and engaging learning environment for all students to thrive in. As such, in all Key Stages, discussion and writing drives our exploration and learning.
Our Key Stage 3 curriculum introduces students to the key skills required for analysing a range of texts. English works in close tandem with the Applied Trans-Disciplinary Learning curriculum, to consolidate key future skills across disciplines. In their lessons, students explore the evolution of society and historical and global issues; from the ancient Greeks and Elizabethan England, to the Great Depression of the USA and Thatcherite Britain. Students will read and delve into a range of well written literature, including a myriad of poetry, plays, novels and short stories, including works from John Steinbeck, Carol Anne Duffy, John Aggard, Maya Angelou, Patrick Ness and of course William Shakespeare.
To develop their own writing skills, students explore topics such as climate change, civil rights, fantasy writing and journalism. Students are challenged to create texts in a range of formats to explore their creativity, with a focus on skills and not exams.
In Key Stage 4, which begins in Year 10, the curriculum explores the foundations of British literature to further develop the critical skills of our students. An exploration of the contexts in which our key texts were written, allows students to reflect on the society they live in today through a social, historical and political lens. We examine Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and J.B. Preistley’s An Inspector Calls in detailed analysis of society and the human condition. Our interwoven language curriculum allows students to become confident and creative communicators; preparing them for life in the 21st century, allowing students to express their thoughts and ideas before consolidating their knowledge to their exams in Year 11.
At Key Stage 5, students delve into a range of classic and contemporary literature – developing their critical and analytical viewpoints, as well as drawing parallels with current political, moral and social issues. From Shakespeare’s Hamlet to Fitzgerald’s Gatsby to the persona’s presented by George the Poet, students engage with and challenge wide philosophical issues, exploring ideas such as: the complexities of humanity, what motivates people and corruption in politics and society. Students hone their essay writing skills in preparation for the next stage of their higher education and beyond. The continued success of our A Level curriculum is a culmination of a 7 year journey at Rivers Academy and students continue to thrive in vibrant and knowledge rich lessons.
Students’ learning and understanding is gauged regularly in English lessons, in questioning, quizzing and both verbal and written feedback. Students are regularly given the opportunity to demonstrate their learning and apply their critical thinking in short and extended pieces of writing. Whole feedback lessons ensure that students are clear on their strengths and areas of development and are given ample time to reflect on and make improvements to written pieces.
Clear mark schemes are used in Key Stage 3 are used to demonstrate where students have met the relevant skills. Teachers make it clear what is needed to move from one band to the next and students are comfortable to ask what to do to improve and how to act on their previous writing. The GCSE AQA mark schemes are employed in Key Stage 4, to which the English Team are trained in for accurate application and which are regularly moderated.