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We are a dedicated and well established team of 7 English specialists, including the Head Teacher. We also have our own English learning mentor, who provides extra support in and out of lessons, and an English intervention tutor, who is an English specialist who works with small groups of students for 6 week blocks. We also have a team of student literacy leaders who help support and promote literacy.

Our Aim

Our aim in English is to provide high ambition for all and take the students beyond their everyday experiences. Ivanhoe College believes in teaching the best in what has been thought and said and helping students to retain this powerful knowledge. In English, we believe that chronology is key and will teach our students the ‘Story of English’ from Classical; Early; Renaissance; Victorian and, Modern. We feel that the best way to prepare students for GCSE and beyond, is to share this with all students through the study of great, culturally rich texts.

Clare Sealy, Head of curriculum & standards, States of Guernsey, described a glorious period where children are taught a curriculum jam-packed full of the very best that has been thought, said, and done, so that they enter the latter part of their schools with a broad, deep and rich base of cultural and communal knowledge, to draw upon in later life and, yes, exams.

This is what we aim to do.

English KS3 Curriculum at Ivanhoe College:

Year 7 Topics

Topics will be linked to Knowledge Organisers



We read about Greek gods, heroic mortals and the oral tradition of storytelling.




We then look to Britain and the early English story Beowulf.




Moving on to Middle English, we dip into The Canterbury Tales.


We finish the year learning about the most famous Early Modern English writer, William Shakespeare, and his sonnets.



Year 8 Topics

Topics will be linked to Knowledge Organisers



We begin by focusing on Shakespeare’s plays, looking at a comedy: Much Ado About Nothing.



We then consider the power of persuasion through words and speech as we learn the ‘Art of Rhetoric’.





We then return to love and the natural world through poetry of the Romantic period.


We finish Year 8, with an introduction to 19th Century literature – fiction and non-fiction - which plays a huge part in the student’s upcoming GCSEs.




Year 9 Topics

Topics will be linked to Knowledge Organisers



We begin by reading a full Victorian novel: The Sign of Four´ by Arthur Conan Doyle.



We then start to look at the GCSE theme of power and conflict through WW1 poetry and the play, Journey’s End.



We finish KS3 reading their first GCSE play text - An Inspector Calls - and by starting to perfect their craft at creative writing for their language GCSE.



Within our challenging curriculum, we repeat often the key 6 threshold concepts in English:

  • Structure and coherence
  • SPAG (Spelling, punctuation and Grammar)
  • Awareness of impact
  • Understanding context
  • Using evidence
  • Analysing technique

English lessons at Ivanhoe

‘The more knowledge my pupils have about text and context, the more perceptive their analysis will be. Mnemonic cues and recall exercises prevent them forgetting what they’ve learned. And extended writing practice drills with precise, instant feedback have dramatically accelerated my pupil’s achievement…achievement drives motivation and builds self-esteem; when children start succeeding, they are more likely to buy in.’ Joe Kirby, a British school teacher and deputy head at Jane Austen College, who writes on translating research into the classroom.

Based on research, like this above, Ivanhoe English lessons follow a 3-part structure in mixed ability sets:

  • Re-cap of previous knowledge through low stake quizzing
  • Instruction through high level reading and teacher talk
  • Deliberate practice of threshold concepts

Interleaving lessons

Once a week, students will have an interleaving lesson which interweaves previous learning of topics and grammar knowledge from the curriculum. These lessons are designed to help students move their learning into long term memory. If the learning is a key concept, it needs to be repeated often. We believe it is not enough to simply keep coming back to topics at some point.

English assessments

Students need to remember knowledge before they can understand, apply, analyse, evaluate and create.

In English, we assess students through 50 mark knowledge papers which test what they can remember about the literary canon and threshold concepts. The end of each paper includes application questions to test if they have fully understood the knowledge.

Within lessons, we constantly cover the above threshold concepts and mark using whole class feedback to ensure skills, as well as knowledge, are being improved upon regularly.


English homework

In English, we use our homework to try and close the vocabulary gap between students. Alex Quigley writes that ‘on average, secondary school teachers who took part in the survey reported that 43% of Year 7 pupils have a limited vocabulary to the extent that it affects their learning.’

We need to know 95% of words to ensure reading comprehension. He explains that as teachers, we therefore need to filter the important vocabulary and teach it explicitly.

Students in English learn 10 words and their definitions per week which are all associated to the enriching texts we read in class. They are tested on these and their previous vocabulary each week in their interleaving lesson: revision of previous knowledge.

Extra-curricular activities in English

The English Department provides a range of extra-curricular activities.  These include providing our students with opportunities to attend and appreciate live theatre performances.  In addition, there are many opportunities for students to meet writers who talk to the students about their craft as well as entry into various reading and writing competitions at local and national level and a youth speaks competition. We also run various inter house competitions including a very competitive library challenge; spelling bee and a number of World Book Day activities.

Student Voice Comments

‘I like that in English, the whole class are involved.’ Year 7

‘I like that my teacher constantly gives feedback to help you understand more.’ Year 7

‘I like the class reading and booklet tasks, the spelling tests – pretty much everything.’ Year 7


Image Gallery

World Book Day Book Swap

Updated Coronavirus measures for schools

23 November 2021 Dear Parents/ Carers, Additional coronavirus (COVID-19) measures for schools and educational settings You will be aware that nationally, cases of COVID-19 amongst school aged children are currently high, and Leicestershire is no exception. As a result, all schools and early...

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Design Competition Finalist

A huge congratulations to former Ivanhoe College student, Megan Harris, who has made it through as a regional finalist for the Royal Mail’s –Heroes’ Stamp Design Competition 2021. Megan is one of only 120 young people to reach this stage of the competition, from a staggering 606,049 entr...

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