|Faculty Leader||Mr M McHugh|
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In an age where information is so readily available and prevalent in so many areas of our lives, the need to be able to actively engage with and criticise this information is becoming more and more crucial. For this reason English is now, more than ever, a critical subject for all students, regardless of the career path they choose.
At Mayfield, we see our role in the English Faculty to challenge students to engage with language, not only on a practical level, but also on a creative, artistic level. We use the subject not only to promote important reading and writing skills, but also to broaden their cultural experiences, which are so vital for success in life beyond education.
Mr M. McHugh
Extensive research shows that using mixed ability groups in English is beneficial in boosting progress for students across all ability ranges. This is a key element of how we teach in English at Mayfield. We believe having students working in mixed ability groups allows them to draw on a range of different experiences outside of their own, an important factor in tackling difficult and unfamiliar texts. This also enables higher achieving students the opportunity to take on a leadership role in helping to develop the learning of other members of the class, while at the same time reinforcing their own recall skills, which are integral to their success in GCSEs.
Differentiation plays an extremely important role in helping students in the same classroom work towards refining the same skills in any given lesson. The faculty deploys a number of differentiation methods to best challenge students, including for example, simplified texts for lower achieving students, or tasks that promote higher engagement with critical thinking skills for higher achieving students.
Crucial also in motivating our students are the texts we study. Since the reformed GCSEs were introduced in 2015, the selection of texts available has been narrowed by the government. We’ve supplemented this limited selection, with a range of interesting and engaging texts of different mediums and from different cultural perspectives, including a podcast series about a true crime event, a film adaption examining the treatment of Aborigines and “The Lost Generation”, and a novel that focuses on the experiences of a teenage refugee.
We’re proud of our success as a faculty. Our 2017 GCSE cohort received ALPS Grade 3 for English language which indicates that students made excellent progress in the subject. 71% of students received Grade 4-9 (the equivalent and C and above).
Homework plays a key role in English. Home learning is provided to students at least once a fortnight via the Show My Homework app, which parents can access and therefore monitor.
This independent engagement with language is playing a crucial role in supporting our students’ reading difficult texts they may encounter in their exams. We also promote the school’s Accelerated Reader programme and believe that reading for pleasure is fundamental in, again, not only developing English skills, but also broadening their understanding of the world, therefore helping them not just in English, but other subjects too.
As much as possible, we try to open students’ eyes to the creative capacity of language. The department offers extra-curricular clubs that promote, for example, reading for pleasure and poetry writing. We also offer students the opportunity to enter poetry and creative writing competitions like the BBC 500 Words and the National Poetry Day competition, in which we have had great success in seeing a wide range of our students work published. Where opportunities arise, we encourage student engage with literature in the real world whether this be through trips to the theatre, poetry readings or talks on literary figures.