At Highgate Wood School, we believe studying English helps a young person develop a range of vital skills that will help them as individuals and as part of the wider world. We want our students to enjoy confident self-expression, enabling them to continue creating and exploring their own sense of identity. This works best when in dialogue with others, and we want to help students’ written and verbal communication to be increasingly skilful: precise, clear and, at times, playful. We want students to be able to determine writers’ and speakers’ viewpoints, and to exercise alert judgement and discrimination in forming their own. We feel that each student should be encouraged to participate fully in developing both real and imaginary worlds for the benefit of themselves and others, and we know that language is a vital tool in this endeavour.
Developing skills and knowledge in English follows a spiral pattern in that skills students will have been introduced to in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 are developed throughout Key Stage 3, 4 and 5. Students will learn increasingly more subtle and sophisticated techniques in both language and literature, and be able to access texts on increasingly more abstract levels. By the end of Key Stage 3, students will also have been introduced to some new skills that are then consolidated and assessed at Key Stage 4, for example applying knowledge of the context of a text to deepen understanding and comparing two or more different texts. Throughout Key Stage 5, students begin to learn about critical theory, applying critical frameworks such as feminist or post-colonial perspectives to deepen their understanding of the text and its relationship to the world.
When a student leaves Highgate Wood School, we want them to be confident in processing and articulating their thoughts and feelings using spoken and written language, and in understanding those of others.