De Lisle College is in Loughborough, Leicestershire. It’s part of the St Thomas Aquinas Multi-Academy Catholic Trust and the school has more than 1200 pupils. Students are majority white British working or middle class with a growing number coming from diverse cultural and racial backgrounds.
The school first partnered with English Mastery in September 2020. We spoke with Joanne Catchpole, Head of English, Liz Perkins, Mastery Lead, and several other teachers in January 2023, as they began their third year implementing the programme.
De Lisle College adopted English Mastery to improve results and close the attainment gap. The programme enables them to teach to a consistently high standard and focus on improving students’ grammar and language. “We had schemes of work that staff had put together themselves, but they were doing it in isolation and trying to fit it in around their busy work schedule,” says Joanne Catchpole, Head of English. “To have everything there, and then to think about how that’s going to support us going forward is really liberating,” she added.
“English Mastery is well resourced, it’s well supported, it enables us to teach so we’re doing the thing that we’re good at rather than focusing on creating the resources to teach with,” explains Liz Perkins, Mastery Lead and Progress Leader for English.
Bethany Taylor, English Teacher and Literacy Leader talked about starting the programme: “We had a lot of new staff when we introduced English Mastery, and it was helpful particularly because it meant we were all on the same page.”
“It’s definitely improved the curriculum, it’s much more structured,” Bethany told us.
Harry Hogan joined the department at the same time the college started teaching the curriculum. He appreciates how that structure flows across multiple years of learning: “Having taught it for three years, one of my favourite things is how the different topics and the different texts build upon each other. You see that knowledge threading through and building up. Now, teaching Year 9 for the first time, we’re anticipating how it’s going to directly inform GCSE.”
Lucy Toseland, an Early Career Teacher, explained how the programme supports her: “I used to be working till 9pm every night. Using English Mastery, class preparation is so much easier.” “The content is rich, and you know that it’s going to approach everything in a sensitive way. I absolutely love it; I recommend it to everyone.”
Harry has seen the impact the curriculum has had on the way students approach English lessons. He told us, “It’s very enjoyable and very engaging for the students.”
Joanne explained why English Mastery’s text choices appealed to her and her classes: “They are challenging but really inspirational. Our students are being introduced to complex ideas about patriarchy in Year 7; the vocabulary is sophisticated, and it builds incrementally.”
Bethany’s students have similarly risen to the challenge: “My class had a variety of needs, so I was surprised how much they enjoyed reading Jane Eyre.”
The school expects the students who have been learning with English Mastery since Year 7 to do well when they start GCSEs next year. As Harry points out, “The confidence of the Year 9s already seems to be a lot higher than my Year 10s who haven’t done English Mastery.”
Liz added: “The writing accuracy of some of our Year 7s is better than Year 11!”
The progress made at De Lisle College is best summed up by Joanne: “When we first started, we’d be in awe of students’ work from other English Mastery schools. Whereas now, some of our students are being heralded as good examples of work. That’s been really lovely.”
Then contact our friendly partnerships team who will be happy to talk you through the programmes and help you decide on the right approach for your school.