English department

Phew! It’s been a hectic year in the English department here at Walsall Academy, and it’s about to get a whole lot busier as we enter the exam period.

The new specification for English Literature and Language GCSEs has presented its own challenges to students and staff alike, and we have been busy pulling out all the stops to make the transition as smooth as possible. We have particularly enjoyed the opportunity the new GCSE Speaking and Listening has given our students to present their ideas on a topic close to their heart.

At Walsall Academy we pride ourselves on widening our students’ cultural horizons, and exposing them to new ideas and experiences. We’ve been to London to critique Daniel Radcliffe in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, enjoyed Othello in the grounds of Stafford Castle, and attended a special screening of The Hard Stop, a documentary film on the shooting of Mark Duggan. We’ve also entertained guests as diverse as boxer/poet Matt Windle and Talk the Talk, a Cambridge University initiative to improve boys’ attainment.

While the new examination style may be a source of worry to teaching staff everywhere, it’s certainly provided us with the impetus to try something a little different; we look forward to sharing our ideas and strategies at the end of this busy year.

Music department

From September 2014, in my capacity as Director of Languages, I set up a termly support hub for teachers of Primary Languages from Walsall Academy feeder schools, in response to MFL now being a compulsory part of the Primary curriculum and as part of the PTI Schools Programme. The aim of the group was to share good practice and join-up thinking between KS2 and KS3. Over the course of the year the group has shared resources, collaborated on schemes of work and prepared pupils for a Celebration of Languages Day at Walsall Academy.

148 Year 4-6 pupils from local primaries attended the celebration on Friday 19th June 2015 and experienced an educational and fun-filled day of language learning. The morning session was spent in the school theatre learning about the value of speaking a language, followed by pupils performing songs, dialogues and short sketches in French for each other. After enjoying an international-themed lunch, pupils were split into five workshop groups and taught taster sessions of Spanish, German, Japanese, Italian and Congolese in the suite of MFL study rooms.