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At St Ambrose we strive to inspire in our students a sense of awe at the power of the written word and an appreciation of the ways in which language shapes our perception of the world, enabling us to connect with others in meaningful ways. 

We believe that the study of literature is a vital endeavour: in the words of Lisa Jardine

A good book studied with a good English teacher takes you on a journey in search of answers to the crucial questions in life you didn’t even know you wanted or needed.

Reading encourages students to engage creatively and imaginatively with the world around them, to develop understanding of themselves and empathy for others.      

We seek to broaden the literary horizons of our students through the texts we study in the classroom and by promoting independent wider reading.  Within the context of Christian values, we relish opportunities to explore with our students the moral, spiritual and philosophical issues explored in literature. We believe that developing students’ skills of critical analysis enhances their appreciation of these issues as well as enriching their experience of reading.           

We strive to empower students to express themselves creatively and imaginatively through language.  Mindful of the importance of English as a tool of communication, we aim to instil in our students the confidence and ability to articulate their ideas clearly and concisely both verbally and in writing.  We value lively classroom discussion which provides students with an invaluable opportunity to shape their views and refine their argument, thereby deepening their understanding of the subject matter. 

We acknowledge the importance of accurate written English across the school and in public life and we encourage students to become proficient in independently planning, editing and re-drafting their work.    We believe that it is imperative students become confident writers able to adapt their style to meet the demands of form, audience and purpose with ease and provide opportunities for students to develop a broad writing repertoire.

Key Stage 3

At Key Stage 3 (Years 7 and 8) we aim to deliver a rich and varied curriculum which builds on the knowledge and skills our students have acquired at primary school.  Our bespoke programmes of study (POS) are in line with the National Curriculum framework and set out a common approach to the delivery of the curriculum ensuring consistency across the department whilst offering teachers the flexibility to tailor individual lesson plans to meet the needs of their students.

Our aim, in line with the National Curriculum, is to ensure that all pupils:

  • speak clearly and convey ideas confidently using Standard English
  • ask questions to check understanding and clarify their thinking
  • read fluently and with good understanding extended prose (both fiction and non-fiction)
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
  • have the stamina and skills to write at length are able to write at length, with accurate spelling and punctuation
  • acquire a wide vocabulary and a good understanding of grammar

Across the key stage (1st and 2nd Year), we incorporate study of the following:

  • a wide range of English literature texts, both pre-1914 and contemporary, including prose, poetry and drama, including two Shakespeare plays
  • a range of good quality non-fiction texts including diaries, travel writing, autobiography, newspapers and letters
  • writing for a wide range of purposes and audiences, including writing to present a viewpoint, as well as descriptive and narrative writing
  • the conventions of group discussion and formal presentations

All students complete a half termly Reading or Writing assessment, alongside a number of Speaking and Listening assessments across the year, which allows us to track their progress and to inform our planning.  These assessments are graded in line with whole school policy using Developing, Secure and Excellence threshold descriptors.

Key Stage 4

At St Ambrose, we follow a three-year curriculum and cover GCSE course content in all three years.  We follow the AQA English Language and English Literature specifications.  All students are entered for both qualifications. 

As with Key Stage 3, we follow a common programme of study across Years 3, 4 and 5, which allows for ongoing standardisation of class-based assessments to ensure consistency and accuracy of marking across the department. 

Across the key stage, in accordance with the relevant examination specifications, we incorporate study of the following:

  • a wide range of English literature texts, both pre-1914 and contemporary, including prose, poetry and drama, including two Shakespeare plays
  • a range of good quality non-fiction texts including diaries, travel writing, autobiography, newspapers and letters
  • writing for a wide range of purposes and audiences, including: writing to present a view point, descriptive and narrative writing
  • the conventions of group discussion and formal presentations

All students complete a half termly assessment based on the relevant exam paper questions, alongside a number of Speaking and Listening assessments across the year, which allows us to track their progress and to inform our planning.

Key Stage 5

At St Ambrose, we offer A-levels in both English Language and English Literature.  We follow the AQA English Literature A Specification and OCR English Language Specification.

As with Key Stages 3 and 4, we follow a common programme of study which allows for a collaborative approach to planning and assessment.  We have some formal schemes of work in place at A-level but these are currently being updated in light of recent changes of specification in both subjects. 

English Language

There are two examined units in the assessment of A-level English Language, worth 40% each and an independent language research project which is worth 20%. 

As there are no set texts for English Language, we have the freedom to analyse language use in a range of ‘real life’ texts both spoken and written.  Students are encouraged to engage with language issues and concepts as set out in the specification, evaluating attitudes to language and speakers in a variety of contexts.

The independent project gives students the opportunity to pursue an area of study which is of particular personal interest under the guidance of their teachers.  This is marked by us and externally moderated.

English Literature

There are two examined units in the assessment of A-level English Literature, worth 40% each and a non-examination assessment (NEA) which is worth 20%. 

The focus of this particular specification is on the study of texts in their historical context.  As such, we study a range of literary texts, including poetry, prose and drama, drawn from a range of different time periods.

The aim of the independent critical study (NEA) is to encourage students to broaden their literary horizons and to pursue their own interests.  We study a C19th novel together in class and students are guided in their choice of a suitable second text from a different time period for the purposes of comparison.  This is marked by teachers and externally moderated. 

For both English Language and English Literature, students are expected to undertake independent wider reading to supplement classwork and homework.  Reading lists should be provided by teachers for each unit. 

In addition, students will complete a minimum of two formal assessments in the form of a timed response to an exam-style essay each half term.  These are marked using the relevant A-level criteria and are awarded a notional grade which allows students and teachers to track their progress and to inform planning.