Mrs H Farnell: Lead English

Mrs J Scott: Teacher of English and Lead Media

Miss J Lee: Teacher of English

Miss A Lewis: Teacher of English

Mrs A Gorner: Teacher of English

Mrs V McCracken: Teacher of English

Miss S Bayliss: Teacher of English

Miss S Bartlett: Associate teacher of English

Mrs J Hands: LRC Manager

Alcester Academy Headteacher


Key Stage 3

Curriculum Intent

We believe English key stage 3 should very much behave as a skills-building approach to reading, writing and oracy. Our aim is to ensure all pupils are confident, critical and cultured in their ability to respond to, and create non-fiction and fiction texts, so that they have a rich foundation for tackling the demands of the key stage 4 English curriculum and beyond.   

Pupils receive four hours of English per week, with one of these lessons acting as an independent reading, and vocabulary acquisition and development focus to ensure learners have the space and support to read widely and often. When entering the academy, pupils are set according to key stage 2 end points - setting is regularly reviewed. Throughout years 7 and 8, topics are structured and sequenced carefully to ensure that there is regular alternation of reading, writing, literature and language skills. By regularly re-visiting and developing each of these skills, our curriculum aligns with the national expectation to ensure that there is a well-rounded understanding of what is needed in English to progress. There is no doubt, that this broadening of the curriculum is appropriate as it prepares pupils well for the demanding nature of KS4 and its need to be able to retrieve different information and processes on a regular basis.

Curriculum Implementation (see also Long Term Plans)

In order to create an enriching experience, long term plans are developed with the intention of teaching a variety of texts and extracts from the literature canon when teaching fiction, for example, pupils are exposed to a variety of Shakespearian characters, engaging novels and styles of poetry. When designing non-fiction lessons, we aim to design flexible units of learning that purposely relate to pupil experiences and interests- not being afraid to shy away from issues of the world that need to be discussed. With a varied team of teachers, the English curriculum at Alcester Academy is effective because of varied and well-differentiated sequences that reach the learner.

To achieve an accurate assessment of individual pupils we formatively assess twice per term to ensure that whole school data and assessment has the holistic progress of our pupils. We assess using ‘best books’ that aim to ‘show case’ edited work over a sequence of lessons alongside end of unit assessments. Each curriculum year also features an end of year exam. Data is used to identify and document under-performance, for pupil and teacher, which, in turn, triggers a series of interventions such as extra-reading provision or setting reviews to ensure ‘below-track’ pupils are at the forefront of teachers’ minds in being able to access future learning. Pupils’ reading is also assessed through ‘Accelerated Reader’ which deepens awareness of where pupils need to improve their reading abilities together with tracking reading ages.  

Curriculum Impact
Key stage 3 learners achieve a broad knowledge base and diverse experience that blends into the learning required at key stage 4. They are able to transfer skills learnt to access more demanding texts. They are more analytical and appreciative of writers’ intentions, and better written communicators with a developing maturity, accuracy and flexibility in the way they write. 

Key Stage 4

GCSE English Language (AQA)

GCSE English Literature (AQA)

Curriculum Intent

Our curriculum for key stage 4 is designed to promote independent learning and high quality engagement whilst ensuring the very best outcomes for learners- regardless of starting points. By supporting pupils’ welfare and academic ability, we believe pupils achieve an enjoyment and preparation of English that often ignites a hunger to study English at KS5 and beyond- we want them to feel proud of their progress. Our aim is to regularly challenge pupils to create and consider developed responses in a nurturing environment where teaching is always pitched high. 

Curriculum Implementation (see also Long Term Plans)

Key stage 4 is designed with use of the GCSE specifications. Pupils have 5 hours of English a week, with one of these lessons, in years 9 and 10, acting as an independent reading or comprehension opportunity, and vocabulary acquisition and development focus to ensure learners have the space and support to continue to read widely and often. Time has been spent in structuring the correct level of exposure and deep learning of set texts. Year 9 acts as a transition year- pupils are gradually introduced to set texts and explicit exam questions. Year 10 is a coverage year- pupils are taught the majority of set texts for literature and develop closer awareness of specific English Language content. Year 11 is a consolidation and developmental year- pupils are tested and challenged with questions that aim to prepare them for terminal examinations.

Pupils will be internally examined up to four times during key stage 4. This rigorous approach ensures that we can moderate and make judgements on pupils and trigger any necessary interventions. Underperformance is documented and strategies put in place to address issues. Years 9 and 10 follow the same exercise book system as key stage 3, but year 11 work from file paper and lever arch files, so that they can organise their own revision and practise of each component whilst receiving more timely and specific feedback from teachers. 

Curriculum Impact

Whilst creating motivated, mature and thoughtful students of English, results are significantly above the national average. Due to the structure, delivery and quality of our key stage 4 curriculum, we are able to achieve a P8 score of +0.9, with 9-4 at 93%, 9-5 at 80%, and 9-7 at 43%. As a result, a large proportion of our students continue to study English at KS5.  

Media Studies

Key Stage 4

Eduqas (WJEC) GCSE Media Studies

Curriculum Intent

Our Media Studies curriculum offers a broad, engaging and stimulating course of study which provides learners with the opportunity to develop a thorough knowledge and understanding of the media and its influences on the world we live in. Through a variety of thought-provoking discussion and field-based research, pupils secure a confident understanding of media’s power over consumers. Lessons are designed to build students’ assurance with familiar and unfamiliar popular culture texts, allowing them to develop academically and socially.

Curriculum Implementation (see also Long Term Plans)

Pupils have two hours of Media Studies a week. In Year 9, the first term is dedicated to An Introduction to Media Studies, whereby pupils undertake a basic study of media terminology and analytical strategies. Print media texts offer an introductory analysis using key media theory and representations. Throughout Year 9, pupils begin to study the chosen set texts for Component 1 and Component 2, after some initial study of unseen media texts. They are also introduced to the ‘practical’ side of Media Studies early on, in order for them to understand what is required for their controlled assessment piece.  In Year 10, pupils undergo a more intensive coverage of the GCSE set texts, where they regularly practise exam style questions. In Year 11, pupils begin the year consolidating and applying their knowledge of media language through their Non-examination assessment (worth 30%). They respond to a set brief and produce a media text for a specified audience. The rest of Year 11 is dedicated to building upon existing media knowledge and revising all of the set texts in preparation for their terminal examinations.  

A range of teaching and learning styles are offered throughout all years – pupils benefit from the ability to lead and contribute to whole class discussions, as well as working independently on analytical exploration of media texts. Independent research of music artists and media stars is regularly encouraged through interactive homework assignments or dedicated computer-suite lessons. Media students are also enrolled in Google Classroom suites, whereby teachers can share resources, set homework assignments and generate additional discussion opportunities.

Pupils will be internally examined (in a formal setting) up to three times throughout the course. In line with the detailed assessment calendar, teachers can also offer mini-assessment points at the end of each module, ensuring our reflective and reliable progress tracker is as useful as possible. Underperformance is documented on class packs and strategies are put in place to address areas of development. Pupils in Year 9 begin the course with an exercise book for all of their study. In Year 10 and Year 11, pupils work with file paper and lever arch files, ensuring their revision notes are easily organised into components for the exam.

Curriculum Impact

As this is a new specification, we, as a school, are currently teaching our first cohort who will sit the exam in Summer 2020. With the release of grade boundaries in August 2019, we will be able to update our existing progress tracker to include working at grades and more accurate target grades.

Learning Resource Centre

The Learning Resource Centre (LRC) occupies a central position within the school, not only geographically but also in the pivotal way it serves all departments, staff and students alike. It is managed by the LRC Manager - Mrs J Hands, and there are student librarians who assist at breaks and lunchtime.

It is the policy of the school to have open access to the LRC during school hours and also before and after school. Pupils enjoy this privilege, and the room is in constant use. As far as possible, the room is not timetabled but staff are allowed to book it for specified periods. We deliver literacy and reading strategies to Year 7, and research skills are reinforced in subsequent years through the LRC Manager identifying and becoming involved with appropriate research-based lessons. Students are encouraged to explore the attributes of Internet technology to reinforce the fundamentals of information retrieval. The need to select the most suitable research path, whether electronic or hard copy is emphasised.

The extensive fiction and non-fiction book stock in the LRC is supplemented by newspapers, journals, subscribed websites and subject information packs. The school subscribes to WCC’s Schools Library Service from which stock is borrowed, book awards are taken part in, and advice obtained.

Students have access to 31 networked computers, 50 networked laptops, 2 iPads and a photocopier/printer/scanner is available for pupil use. A plasma screen informs students of developments within the LRC and throughout the school, there is also an LRC Google Classroom with lots of information on.

Accelerated Reader Strategy - The Academy believes that the Accelerated Reader programme can support the literacy development of young people. As such, time is dedicated to the effective implementation of Accelerated Reader within the curriculum and we actively encourage students in years 7, 8 and 9 to read books within their range and take quizzes.

Students are also encouraged to read for pleasure through various shadowing schemes, both regional and national. Author visits and literacy workshops are organised. World Book Day and other days celebrating literacy are highlighted. Students take part in the Warwickshire Secondary Book Award and Warwickshire Teen Book Award. The LRC has been awarded a Warwickshire County Council Gold Certificate for its resources, implementation of programmes and facilities.

Useful LRC QR codes:

Long Term Plans & Assessment Plans

English LTP Year 7
English LTP Year 8 
English LTP Year 9
English LTP Year 10
English LTP Year 11

Media LTP Year 9
Media LTP Year 10
Media LTP Year 11

English Assessment Plan 
Media Assessment Plan