Engaging today’s T

hismonth in our ever-popular Viewfrom the Classroomfeaturewe speak to MatthewEverett, senior assistant principal, at CardinalWiseman Catholic School, in Coventry,which has been on an improvement journey since 2013. He shares his experiences o f successfully engaging his students in English Literature at GCSE level.

TelTell us about your schooll us about you r schoo l

Based in Coventry, CardinalWiseman Catholic School is an active member of the Romero Academy Trust, within our seven partner primary schools; supporting two to 19 years. As

a secondary school we work students from the ages of

to provide every opportunity for our students, who total more than 1200, to develop their individual talents. Approximately one third of our students are eligible for Pupil Premium funding and the percentage of pupils who speak English as an additional language is above the national average.

At our last Ofsted inspection, the quality of teaching for pupils who speak English as an additional language was high-quality and effective resulting in those pupils who join our


his month in our ever-popular View from the Classroom feature we speak to Matthew Everett, senior assistant principal, at Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School, in Coventry, which has been on an improvement journey since 2013. He shares his experiences of successfully engaging his students in English Literature at GCSE level.

Engaging today’’s students in English Literatur

school with little or no English language skill s make rapid progress .

Why is it so hard to engage today’s students in English Literature?

As English practitioners, we are always looking to ensure we are attracting our students to their learning. For subj

bjects such as the sciences it’s

possibly easier to achieve; getting hands-on with experiments, touching and testing theories. Added to this, there are numerous EdTech resources to support these subjects. However, while it’s hard enough to attract students’ attention to some of the English Literature texts there are also very few EdTech resourc literature. I know, for example, that if I students read through the whole of a

Shakespearean play without any variation in m y teaching methods, I’d lose them .

Of course, all schools are under pressure to achieve good SATs and GCSE results, but in English Literature, I have found that ‘teaching to the test’ is the least effective way of drawing my students into the stories, poems and plays. The first thing I do is to introduce the story with the key plot; to a certain extent you do have to focu s

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Why is it so hard to engage today’s students in English Literature?

s students in English Literature


on the central story lines to grasp their interest. From this broad level of understanding it is then easier to broaden out their understanding of th e sub plots.

Aside fromjust reading the story,which resources to you use to ignite their interest ?

made the es for

Aside from just reading the story, which resources to you use to ignite their interest? What has been particularly effective at Cardinal Wiseman in terms of learning and revision, is using videos that ‘play out’ the story lines. The students love it because learning is delivered in a style that is familiar and meets the needs of this ‘YouTube generation’ who expect content on demand wherever they are but does not take away from the autonomy or expertise of the classroom teacher.

Let’s take Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol as an example. By watching very short videos of the key narrative of Ebenezer Scrooge’s vision of the ghosts and his reaction when he sees the ill Tiny Tim, the children are naturally more engaged in the story as they have something to pin their knowledge to when they read. The video files highlight what the students need to know, but more importantly they provide teachers with a platform for a broader discussion on issues such

Apri l 2019 2019

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