This week we continue to explore how Ofsted’s new inspection framework will affect leaders across a host of different subjects. Following on from our last blog, in which we spoke with a subject lead for science, here we speak with Katie Butler, Head of English at Falinge Park High School in Rochdale.

Keen to promote further discussion and share examples of good practice, she outlined the importance of English on the wider curriculum: “English enables students to communicate fluently whether in spoken or written form therefore allowing them to access all subjects within the curriculum; without being able to read, write and communicate effectively students’ progress is limited not only within the curriculum but in life.

“We are privileged that our subject matter allows for explorations culturally, socially and philosophically.  Reading widely allows students to build on and extend their knowledge, whilst also making links across the curriculum disciplines.  The social and historical contexts of Literature texts can be linked to history, settings can be linked to learning in geography, meter and rhyme in plays and poetry can be rooted in a knowledge of patterns in maths. The study of English is and should be more than learning the content and context of a novel or play, it is more than understanding how language is used to convey meaning. At its best and most powerful an English curriculum should be about a love of language and using that to transport students to places and contexts outside their realm of knowledge and empowering them to question and challenge the world around them.”

Discussing considerations when devising intent in an English curriculum, Katie went on to say: “The main consideration in devising intent in an English curriculum is to understand what is it that you want all students to experience, learn and discover. Our intent at Falinge Park High School is to foster a love of English and ensure that all students engage with the subject, essential to our intent in FPHS English curriculum is our Big Aim: ‘Through the beauty and power of words, we will inspire and foster inquisitive minds that look within and beyond the realm of their experiences. We will encourage students to develop the habit and passion for active and life-long reading. Students will be given a range of opportunities to be skilled in the art of communication, allowing them to articulate their views, express themselves and access opportunities for the rest of their life.’

“As a faculty we come back to this statement when reviewing and revising our Schemes of Learning (SOLs) to ensure that our KS3 curriculum covers a wide spectrum and does not just focus on KS4 knowledge. There is a danger that an English curriculum becomes content heavy and lacks opportunities for discussion and allowing time to refine and revisit knowledge and skills so that students can develop and hone these and be able to employ them in a range of contexts. Our intent is to devise a broad and challenging curriculum so that students can understand, interpret and communicate with autonomy and confidence.”

Concluding, Katie comments on what a quality curriculum in English should look like: “A quality curriculum in English should carefully consider the knowledge and skills required to be successful. It should be a living document that is reviewed and reflected on throughout an academic year and adapted accordingly.  It should be the plan that allows teachers to devise building blocks across a series of lessons that enables students to access new concepts and constructs, whilst also allowing opportunities to deepen their knowledge and skills at each stage. It should include challenging ideas and texts, but also subtle modelling to guide students in accessing demanding themes and content.  A high-quality curriculum should clearly allow all stakeholders to answer the following questions: What is it for? Why are we doing it? What do they learn?”

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be speaking with various other subject leaders on the curriculum. Follow B11 on Twitter and LinkedIn to ensure you don’t miss the next one.

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