The English Department aims to improve educational standards by providing quality, enjoyable and positive learning experiences to students of all ages no matter what their ability or background. We strive to encourage learners to be confident and active students rather than passive recipients. Raising self esteem and developing resilience are seen as the keys to raising standards. Our students are encouraged to take a more active role in setting their targets so that they feel ownership of them and have a genuine understanding of them. We are committed to Assessment For Learning because it highlights the essential need to involve pupils in a meaningful target setting process and helps them to understand what their next steps are if they are to meet those targets. If our students are participating they are engaged, and if they are engaged they will fulfil their potential.
This subject encompasses all aspects of communication – non verbal, verbal and written work in English promotes learning across the curriculum and underpins pupils’ achievements and participation in all aspects of their lives. In particular, English offers pupils with learning difficulties opportunities to:
To develop the ability and confidence to respond, to listen and to understand;
To interact and communicate effectively with others in a range of social situations;
To make choices, obtain information, question, reflect and be actively involved in decision making and problem solving;
To show initiative and think about the ways in which they learn;
To develop creatively, imaginatively and emotionally;
To have access to a wide range of literature from a range of cultures to enrich and broaden their experiences;
To develop their understanding of the cultural identity unique to Wales by our contribution to Curriculum Cymreig via schemes of work and our contribution to whole school events such as St David’s Day;
To develop and grow academically by improving their reading and writing ability;
To have opportunities to enhance ICT skills;
To provide access to external certified courses when appropriate;
To see that reading and writing are therapeutic tools as much as they are practical and essential to functioning in the world outside Woodlands. We embrace the school’s motto that it ‘Learning For Living’ and we want to play a vital role in helping our students to live happy, confident lives.
These opportunities will be provided in a safe environment that pays due regard to the development of the whole child. Each pupil will be treated fairly and have access to a broad, balanced and skills focused curriculum regardless of disability, race, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.
Continuous Development and the Skills Framework.
Schemes of work will be updated, and adapted, regularly so that they reflect new and relevant issues in education and so that pupils have access to up to date media and literary texts. (See Reading Lessons section of the English handbook.) Every class within each key stage is very different so it is imperative that each teacher’s schemes of work are constantly updated and altered so that the individual needs of each pupil are met.
The documents – ‘A Learning Continuum for Language, Literacy and Communication in the Foundation Phase’ and ‘Skills Progression in English for Key Stages 2 and 3’ will underpin all our planning from 2010 onwards. They will enable every practitioner to identify the current level of attainment of their pupils and plan for the next step in their learning. Progression is cumulative and not separated into different year groups. The focus is on teaching skills appropriate to the children’s needs rather than their age, therefore, these documents are indispensable to the teaching of children with special and additional needs.
We will analyse pupil data to ensure that our schemes of work are adding value.
Our English lessons are always open to visitors and we welcome partnerships and collaborative work with parents, support agencies, other schools, arts groups and writers.
Key Stage 3.
4 lessons per week.
Key Stage 4.
3 Lessons per week.
2 lessons per week.
Assessment for learning (AFL) is integral to all we do. We use our assessments to raise pupils’ achievement. Pupils will improve most if they understand the aim of their learning, where they are in relation to this aim and how they can achieve the aim (or close the gap in their knowledge).
Effective AFL involves:
sharing learning goals with pupils
helping pupils know and recognise the standards to aim for
providing feedback that helps pupils to identify how to improve
believing that every pupil can improve in comparison with previous achievements
both the teacher and pupils reviewing and reflecting on pupils' performance and progress
pupils learning self-assessment techniques to discover areas they need to improve
recognising that both motivation and self-esteem, crucial for effective learning and progress, can be increased by effective assessment techniques.
Research has shown that being part of the review process raises standards and empowers pupils to take action to improve their performance. We believe our pupil-friendly IEPs are going to be highly beneficial in this area. The Learning Wall also bolsters pupil involvement and encourages healthy reflection. An important aspect of assessment for learning is also the formative use of summative data.
Key characteristics of assessment for learning are:
using effective questioning techniques
using marking and feedback strategies
sharing learning goals
peer and self-assessment.
Formative assessment is integrated into our Rapid reading programme and the summative assessment is provided by the Benchmark books and Running Records. The Rigby Phonics is not a teaching programme in itself so we use the assessments contained in Fast Phonics First to monitor children’s progress. Pupils are however assessed after each set of phonemes by tasks which check grapheme recognition as well as the ability to decode phonemes within words. These words also fit into the Woodlands Spelling Programme which every pupil is involved with.
Toe by Toe. A small number of students are involved in the Toe by Toe reading programme during the registration period each day. It is a methodical and highly structured teaching method use to bolster the teaching of reading to struggling readers. It combines a multi-sensory approach with a memory bonding technique.
Self and peer assessment is used alongside teacher assessment and pupils, where appropriate, produce a piece of independent writing or mark making each term which is levelled, moderated and then stored in their files. The emphasis is on formative assessment throughout the term and the termly independent writing task provides a starting point for the IEP writing target.
Speaking and listening (Oracy)
Speaking and listening is obviously a vital part of all we do at Woodlands. Pupils complete one ‘formal’ assessment in the Summer term when they are at their most confident but the final level is provided by the teacher who knows the pupil very well and will award a ‘best fit’ based upon his or her field notes.
Annual reading and spelling age tests provide us with essential data.
Annual NC data for the 3 attainment targets are fed into the County Tracking system and provided for the annual reviews.
P Scale test are carried out annually and provide added information for the final level which is fed into the county tracking system.
When appropriate, students are given the opportunity to take the WJEC Entry Level English examination either in KS4 or post 16.
In Year 16 some non Entry Level pupils can follow the acclaimed UPSKIL literacy programme which was created at Woodlands. (Unlocking the Potential of Special Schools – Strengthening Knowledge in Literacy Learning.)
Our developing curriculum will be an ever evolving curriculum for the twenty-first century. It will always:
focus on the learner;
equip learners with transferable skills;
focus on continuity and progression 3-19, by building on the Foundation Phase and linking effectively with the 14-19 Learning Pathways programme;
be inclusive and offer equality of opportunity;
will be necessarily flexible;
will support Government policy, including: bilingualism, Curriculum Cymreig/Wales, Europe and the World, equal opportunities, food and fitness, sustainable development and global citizenship, and the world of work and entrepreneurship;
focus on the social and emotional aspects of learning;
transform learning to produce resourceful, resilient and reflective learners who will become independent and interdependent;
be relevant, challenging and interesting to all.