At Brook Green, our English Department’s aim is to prepare all of our students for independence with literacy in everyday life, college, work, the imagination and society. We aim to empower our students to communicate effectively in their thinking skills, listening skills, reading, writing and spoken communication in order to allow them to recognise their importance in society and community and the important and active role that they can play.
Our English and Literacy Department is headed by a secondary trained English specialist who works closely with our specialist Literacy HLTA. We work closely with our team of teachers that includes specialist English teachers, our Key Stage 3 lead who is a languages specialist, our Food Tech lead who is also an RE and History specialist and our drama and primary specialist.
Reading is also at the heart of Brook Green and all students are encouraged to read for pleasure. We use different phonics programmes to help our students to learn to hear phonemes, recognise graphemes and develop key blending and segmenting skills that are key for learning to read and spell. We have an extensive library of both fiction and non-fiction books that cover many genres and a wide range of subjects. All year 7 and 8 students receive a free ‘Book Buzz’ novel of their choice and (through the Books Trust) we will continue to do this each year. In relation to both reading and writing, we celebrate a variety of days linked to literacy at Brook Green such as: Roald Dahl Day, National Poetry Day, Shakespeare Day and World Book Day. We aim to bring literature alive for students whilst also linking both literature and literacy to key skills linked to everyday life.
At Brook Green, we develop our students’ oracy skills including ‘closing the word gap’. Our head of department and drama specialist took part in the city-wide Oracy Project over a period of two years and we provide continued high quality training for all members of staff so that oracy takes sits at the heart of all of our subjects. We therefore provide a high quality oracy education which empowers students to find their confidence, articulacy and voice for achievement and success in school, college and in life.
We give all students the opportunity to experience the magic of theatre through visits to the Theatre Royal in Plymouth throughout their time with us at Brook Green. Recent theatre trips have included Of Mice and Men, Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, a special performance of the pantomime suitable to e.g. ASD students and Gangsta Granny.
Our specialist Lead in English and HLTA also run three whole day intervention sessions per school year which enables us to target specific student's needs. We also have an extremely successful reading intervention and tutuoring program created by and managed by our Literacy HLTA. Our HLTA also works with students on a weekly basis to complete relevant and purposeful reading and writing interventions.
All year groups are set by ability. This enables us to deliver precise differentiated lessons led by the most suitable specialist teaching staff. We have a strong tracking and analysis system that enables us to focus precise interventions where they are needed
All students follow both the National Literacy Strategy and Framework with a focus on developing phonics skills, writing, reading, speaking and listening skills. We adapt the Strategy and Framework to meet our students' needs. Our aim is for students to be engaged through creative and enjoyable work and to develop both independence and confidence in all of their literacy skills. Students in Key Stage 3 will develop their reading and understanding through texts such as Gangsta Granny, Killer Cat, War Horse, Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Hank Zipzer, Stone Cold and Cirque du Freak as well as a variety of non-fiction texts.
We have developed our own Brook Green Phonics Course in order to help students who cannot read when they first join our school. Our other students engage in the ‘Brook Green Phonics programme at the later phases. All of our students develop their spelling skills by taking part in our spelling programme that focuses on phonics, rules and difficult to spell words. Students are tested once per term using the ‘Schonell’ tests that enable us to calculate a spelling age. Students are tested once per term for reading using the ‘Toe By Toe’ reading age test to also gauge a reading age.
Writing is improved through our ‘Grammar for Writing’ modules throughout all year groups that focus on sentence structure and punctuation. Every student also has personalised reading and writing targets to work on each term. These are specifically linked to their progress and are then reviewed every term. Alongside all of this, all students in all year groups follow their own personalised Precision Training pathway where all students work on a daily 1-2-1 basis in order to improve their reading and understanding of a wide range of words. This is efficiently managed and organised by our specialist Literacy HLTA. All of our students also take part in 1-2-1 catch-up with English teachers and are programmed onto this intervention dependent upon their ability. This means that some students receive a year of 1-2-1 every week and others can receive two or more terms.
At years 9, 10 and 11 we read and explore books such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Face, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Of Mice and Men as well as non-fictions texts. Work is also based around ‘real world’ tasks and texts such as letter writing and reading comprehension as well as work to stimulate the imagination.
All of our Year 10 and 11 students also take part in our ‘You’re Hired’ programme where students have the choice of 3 different real job applications and write a letter of application during English lessons where they are given guidance and advice. Two students are then chosen to be interviewed for each job and these are conducted by our Careers specialists within school where feedback is given about interview skills and performance. The winners are then presented with a prize each. We do this in order to build the confidence of our students as well as enabling them to learn resilience, presentation, body language as well as practising formal letter writing they have already learned in their English lessons.
All of our year 9, 10 and 11 students have the opportunity to work towards an Entry Level or Level One English course. The majority of our students take a Functional Skills course that tests their reading, writing and speaking and listening. Functional Skills in English allows students to develop their written work, reading and spoken language. Functional Skills is the equivalent of part of a GCSE at Levels 1 and 2.
The majority of our Key Stage 4 students also take GCSE English Language. We currently use the WJEC (EDUQAS) examination board for our GCSE. Students in year 11 will sit two exams based on reading comprehension and writing. All GCSE students are given extract based homework very week in order to build up skills learnt during the week and also to extend their reading base. We will be using extract based texts centred around different themes such as identity, struggle, other cultures, sports and other themes. Students will also perform one speaking and listening task of their choice based around the form of a presentation. All performances will be recorded for examination board moderation and department moderation. The examination content is based around ‘real world’ situations such as reading media and non-fiction texts and writing to different purposes and in different forms such as writing a persuasive speech or creating an informative letter.
Long Term Plans
English / Literacy Home Learning
BBC Bitesize: this well-resourced site has bundles of wellbeing and academic resources from Primary (those still learning to read) to GCSE. https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize
BBC Teach: from moving and motivational videos to advice and video resources. Again, this is a well-resourced site for those at home or school and it is also free to use. https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach
Fun Kids: from the ‘stuck at home’ podcasts to the games, books and videos, Fun Kids is another free and they also have their free radio service you can listen to on all devices. https://www.funkidslive.com/
TES Resources: The Time Educational Supplement is free to use and again, has lots of free activities for all subjects and for well-being including this link: https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/covid-19-home-learning-pack-coronavirus-12267191
Teach Starter: this great website has all of the subjects areas you can think of and caters for all ages including dance, theatre, art, science, English, maths and health. It really is worth taking a look to see if anything suits you and your child.
ASDAN: this is a very good website and our older students already be familiar with them. They cover English, maths, PSHE, Citizenship and employability. They have adapted some of their resources to fit our current movement restrictions. They have also made available a large number of resources for learners with special needs. There are challenges for students and these can be completed within the household environment. Again, it is well worth having a look to see if you can find something to suit your child. https://www.asdan.org.uk/courses/programmes/lifeskills-challenge
The British Army: perhaps you would not initially think of looking at this website but the British Army have released home learning resources that help to build confidence as well as develop learning and skills. There are home learning lessons about character building, confidence, maths, science, employability and many other topics. It is well worth a look.
Brain Pop: Brain Pop covers a wide range of subjects with videos and cartoons, quizzes and games. It is free for the first month!
Scholastic Learning at Home: This book publisher has released lots of resources to suit students of all ages and abilities. They cover a wide variety of topics and subjects. https://www.scholastic.com/parents/school-success/home-learning-resources.html
Khan Academy: This is a US based site based on their education system but it is packed with lessons. This site would be particularly useful for both Maths and Science and you can track your child’s progress too. https://www.khanacademy.org/
Twinkl: they are releasing new daily activities to support your child both academically and emotionally. This really is a superb website and caters for all students who attend Brook Green.
Website: Phonic Play
PhonicsPlay - a great website for all things phonics for those learning to read or those still learning different words. https://www.phonicsplay.co.uk/ There is a free to use username of: march20 and a password of home.
The GCSE English Language examination board we use are called WJEC/Eduqas – they have some great free resources for KS3 and KS4 students. https://resources.eduqas.co.uk/
Website: BBC Bitesize
BBC Bitesize has some great resources and covers all subjects including English, Literacy and Phonics. https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize They cater for all students from Age 3 to 16 plus.
Other learning activities you could do with your child
Kidz vs Phonics. Your child may know this from the ‘pea in the sea’ song. These video resources help with phonics – breaking words down, sounding out and blending.
Jack Hartman Kids Music Channel – your child may know this from digraphs such as the ‘sh’ song and various other songs. He is great for those still learning to read where he sings songs your child can join in with.
Hello Carrie – again, this site has a lot of phonics where your child could sing along and join in with the sounds and sounding/blending.
Alphablocks – if your child is still learning to read then you may be familiar with Alphablocks.
Brook Green Centre for Learning's aim is to develop independent learners who are active readers and who are also able to express themselves in creative and non-fiction writing linked to the world around them.