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Extract or Book - What is Usual in Secondary English?

(34 Posts)
WoodRose Tue 11-Oct-11 13:05:40

I went along to our local comprehensive school's open day this morning and was told that the English department did not set whole texts until KS4. Children in KS3 are given only extracts to read and analyse. I was not educated in this country so am unsure whether this is normal in English secondary schools.

Our local school teaches English in mixed ability classes in all years and there is a wide spread of abilities amongst the school's intake. Could this be why children are given extracts rather than books, so as not to put off those who struggle with reading?

Would love to hear from other MNers as to whether their children are expected to read books or extracts in KS3.

gramercy Tue 11-Oct-11 14:00:22

Ds is in year 9 and has yet to study a book properly at secondary school. He is taught in mixed ability classes too. They look at book extracts, but in my opinion the books are pitched at the lowest ability level. They did a "module" on Shakespeare, which consisted of the witches' section in Macbeth. As for poetry... I think that got abandoned in the Infants. I complained to the English teacher about this on the last parents' evening and she was in thorough agreement, but seemingly impotent.

Ds has me saying to him "Read this - it's good, honestly!" (or more cunningly, "I hated this, far too boyish") about various books, but what of those who don't have involved parents?

I now start to foam at the mouth every time I hear the word "Bitesize".

mummytime Tue 11-Oct-11 15:50:18

My DCs have studied whole books from year 7. This has included: Beowulf, Macbeth (again!), A Mid Summers nights dream, Animal Farm. They have also studied extracts, and newspaper reports. They are taught in mixed ability in year 7, broad ability groups in year 8 and sets for years above; one of my children has never been above the middle for sets.
They have also studied poetry all the way through school.

So it really does depend on the school (my DC are at a Comp).

cat64 Tue 11-Oct-11 21:42:08

Message withdrawn

lecce Tue 11-Oct-11 22:09:47

In my school children read one novel a year during ks3 - depending on its length we may have to skip bits, though we offer children the chance to read missed sections at home if they are keen. We also read a whole play a year - in Yr9 its Shakespeare so we won't have to time to read the whole thing (and to do so would probably be to 'kill' it anyway grin) but it's not just a couple of extracts. Our classes are mixed ability.

I find it hard to believe any school has dropped poetry as it is still part of the GCSE syllabus.

lecce Tue 11-Oct-11 22:10:25

it's Shakespeare

WoodRose Tue 11-Oct-11 22:52:20

Thank you all for your replies. It would seem that there is quite a wide variety of approaches. My school was the equivalent of an English comprehension with a wide range of abilities. However, all sets were required to read books in full. Usually, we would be set a chapter to read at home as preparation for a class discussion. Out of interest, how do students learn about themes and plot development if they are only reading extracts?

lecce Wed 12-Oct-11 06:51:12

By choosing relevant extracts! A lot of students would struggle to identify themes unless you really directed them to the most relevant passages anyway - or at least, they may not struggle to identify them but would struggle to find suitable examples and quotations.

We also choose books that will be managable within the time constraints we have - so complicated plots tend to be out. I sometimes do a summary of chapters/scenes we have omitted and that works fine.

It is sad that the English curriculum is so overloaded now. All I remember doing isreading books and plays but that is just a small part of it now.

Pippaandpolly Wed 12-Oct-11 07:16:05

I'm an English teacher and we teach whole texts from Year 7 up, including Shakespeare and poetry. I can't imagine doing anything else. In fact I don't think I could teach at a school that didn't do this. Sounds utterly ludicrous.

Pippaandpolly Wed 12-Oct-11 07:19:37

E.g. With my Year 8 class last year I did Private Peaceful, Twelfth Night, a lot of different poetry (writing and reading/analysing) from S sonnets to Geoffrey Hill and various other shorter texts. In Year 9 they will read Jane Eyre and Macbeth plus whatever else their teacher wants.

cory Wed 12-Oct-11 08:38:43

Dd has been reading whole books since Yr 7.

bruffin Wed 12-Oct-11 09:05:53

Dcs school teach whole books from yr7. This is a state comp with good results, 80% get A-C in English. The only set from yr7 so it may only be top sets.

toutlemonde Wed 12-Oct-11 18:25:31

Am a bit confused, they all read whole books at primary school don't they? Why would they stop at 2ary?

Tigerstripes Wed 12-Oct-11 19:06:14

We teach one whole novel and one play a year as individual units. We also use extracts as part of other units, e.g extracts from Roald Dahl's 'Boy'. We also read poetry throughout the year. Just this last week I have used two poems from the GCSE syllabus with my year 7s. We are mixed ability.

Tigerstripes Wed 12-Oct-11 19:07:33

Missed out that 'Boy' was part of the autobiography unit.

oneofsuesylvesterscheerios Wed 12-Oct-11 19:08:46

City state school
We are mixed ability Y7, 8 and 9
Whole texts taught, at least 1 per year plus a Shakespeare
plus Chaucer in Y8
plus some extracts when it's called for

troisgarcons Wed 12-Oct-11 21:06:05

Specs altered last year .... no book over 76 pages is in the curriulum - so that takes out all the classics.

oneofsuesylvesterscheerios Wed 12-Oct-11 21:23:06

Where do you get that info troisgarçons? The ks3 curriculum for English doesn't prescribe texts: it suggests appropriate authors that include those from classic literary heritage and contemporary ones.

troisgarcons Wed 12-Oct-11 21:32:20

KS4 - reading the specs texts list

bushymcbush Wed 12-Oct-11 21:37:47

I am an English teacher. We read one whole novel per year from year 7, plus a Shakespeare play (in year 9 a whole play although it will probably be abridged for lower sets) and poetry.

I wouldn't work at a school where whole texts weren't taught at KS3 either.

bushymcbush Wed 12-Oct-11 21:39:11

Troisgarcons - which exam board are you looking at? There are plenty of longer texts on ours (WJEC)

oneofsuesylvesterscheerios Wed 12-Oct-11 22:44:37

I can't think of any exam boards that only specify texts with fewer than 76 pages! Link?

MindtheGappp Wed 12-Oct-11 22:45:58

My DCs have all studied full books in Y7.

conistonoldwoman Fri 14-Oct-11 22:10:16

Toutlemonde...I don't think all primary schools read whole books.They should be doing this but it's very patchy . Sad state of affairs really.

sassyTHEFIRST Sat 15-Oct-11 11:32:49

A whole novel and a whole play a year in KS3; extracts from Shakespeare at both KS3 and 4 (but several key scenes not just a few lines), and a whole novel (unless in SEN groups) and a whole play at KS4. That's what I teach in a bog standard West Mids comp and I would say it is pretty typical.

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