Earl Mortimer College

English Mastery is empowering students to read, write and speak more confidently

English Mastery is empowering students to read, write and speak more confidently

Empowering students to read, write and speak more confidently

EMS Summary (2)

School context

Earl Mortimer College is in Leominster, Herefordshire. It is a semi-rural school, in an area with high levels of deprivation with over 500 students. The demographic is predominantly white British, and all but one year group has a pupil premium intake of over 30%.

The school began implementing English Mastery in September 2022. We spoke to Dominic Quigley, Second in English and Key Stage 3 Lead in February 2023, at the start of their second term implementing the curriculum.

Overcoming low aspiration

Dominic told us how in a deprived area like his: “Education is our students’ best chance of getting ahead”. He really appreciates the structure and sequence of English Mastery as a way of improving their learning: “The way it’s crafted makes the difference. The programme is all about enhancing long-term memory, and that’s new for us as we used to teach schemes in isolation. You can see a golden thread running through English Mastery, linking every lesson and scheme.”

Poor student literacy is a major challenge facing the department. Through the programme’s Assessing for Mastery workshop, Dominic explored students' work from across the English Mastery network, including his own: "I realised that our students articulate their opinions and arguments well, but they struggle to put their thoughts into writing." He reflected that this was in part due to their old schemes of work: "They weren't supporting progress. Students understood a text, but they couldn't write at grade 4 and above at key stage 4."

Finding new ways of engaging students

The lesson plans and resources are fantastic Dominic told us. “They’re so thought out and thorough. The programme is fully cohesive. It’s the full package. Plus, there’s not one text in Year 7 that we’ve taught previously, which is exciting for us as teachers and more engaging for our students.”

“It’s changed the way I teach,” Dominic said. “It’s really empowering my students in speaking and listening. They’re learning a life-long skill and now that they have time to talk their ideas through, they feel more confident giving their opinions. They’ve verbalised it, so they know how to write it.”

Improving pedagogy through English Mastery

To make best use of the programme, and harness those new abilities in his students, he has taken full advantage of the CPD available: “We had two days of induction training that were revolutionary! The Writing Mastery training was eye opening. We had never focused on teaching grammatical structures with our students even though it’s a focus for GCSE marking.”

He described some particularly impactful training: “One of the most empowering virtual sessions I’ve had was a moderation on Oliver Twist. We’ve since improved our threshold descriptors and that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.”

Dominic summed up “I have nothing but praise for English Mastery, I really enjoy teaching with the programme and it’s working for my students. It has enhanced my pedagogical knowledge so I'm benefiting personally and professionally.”

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