English Mastery is a non-profit organisation founded in 2014.  We worked with seven schools in the Ark network to trial our programme. Students began their first term of a knowledge-rich curriculum studying the captivating tale of Oliver Twist. Students explored the rise and fall of Oliver’s heroic journey to overcome the villainy of Bill Sikes.

Three years later, with the strength of the pilot behind us, we now work with 57 schools across the country, taking us as far as Northern Ireland, Great Yarmouth and the Isle of Wight.

Teacher testimonials

Meryl Noronha

Key Stage 3 Lead, Ark Elvin Academy, London

The English Mastery curriculum exposes our students to a wide variety of texts that are challenging for the age group that we are delivering it to. Students from year 7 are exposed to 19th century texts, Shakespeare and poetry. The fact that this builds and follows through into years 8 and 9 really provides that level of challenge they need to be successful at key stage 4.

You can really see the progress. The curriculum builds and so students are embedding key skills and knowledge over time. They can refer back to things they learnt in previous years and previous units, and you can see how the challenge extends each time. It is really important for them to see that every single assessment isn’t just a snapshot in time, but that they are becoming subject experts.

I think English Mastery has improved my teaching practice. I feel a lot more confident to look at the lessons that are there and to think about how I am differentiating for my particular classes. The thought process that goes behind the planning of those lessons also helps me to think about the key skills I need to embed in order for my students to be successful. So it has really been a positive learning curve!

Narayan Deb

Lead Practitioner, Globe Academy, London

English Mastery is so engaging for students. You get Year 8 students talking in depth about texts like Animal Farm. Three or four years ago that wasn’t the case at our school. English Mastery is unapologetically challenging for students. It equips students to tackle the challenges of the new GCSE curriculum so well. I can’t tell you the differences between our year 9s who have been doing the programme for three years, and our year 10s who are now contending with the new GCSE and the pitfalls that come their way. English Mastery sets our students up for success.

Reading essays, you can see the love for literature that comes across. That is across the spectrum of grades. You can see that students have loved what they have studied. That is credit to the planning of those resources. The wall of reading and writing can be such a barrier. But this programme has added an element of fun to English that probably wasn’t there before.

English Mastery makes you think about pedagogy in a different way. You are thinking about all of the nuts and bolts of teaching. I am taking things from English Mastery to whole school CPD so it definitely has an impact on our practice.

Miriam Hussain

English Teacher and Pastoral Lead, Ark St Alban’s Academy, Birmingham

The programme has a very positive impact on our students. Some of the texts really enable a love of learning and love of literature as well. When year 7 come in, they study Oliver Twist. Students really love that and get so engaged and involved with those characters and become part of that world. Year 9 are really stretched by studying Jane Eyre – which is an incredibly difficult text – so it really caters to those specific year groups.

I have seen so much progress with the English Mastery curriculum! My top set year 8 class have made so much progress. The texts just get harder. When they study Sherlock Holmes they unpick how to analyse properly. By the time you get to the summer term and are studying Animal Farm you really unpick contextual information. What is really good about English Mastery is that you are enabling and creating a foundation for GCSE so it is step by step. The intensity over time is increased so that when they get into Year 10 they are really ready for it.

We receive an incredible amount of support from the English Mastery team. I absolutely love coming to the Assessing for Mastery days and looking at the different work that has been produced across the network and comparing them. Justifying, discussing and unpicking our grading is really important.

Jack Cooper

Head of Department, Ark Walworth Academy, London

I really like how the English Mastery curriculum embeds the content students need to know as they approach the GCSE curriculum, and how there’s a really clear link from lesson to lesson of the knowledge they have previously learnt. These are two of the particular strengths of the programme!

I see a huge difference in the quality of the writing in years 7 and 8 compared to my year 10 and 11s that have not done the English Mastery programme. Weaker ability students are able to make a lot of progress very quickly because it is very clear what is expected of them each lesson and it is really clear how it builds and builds. Technical accuracy is such a big focus in the GCSE language paper and explicit grammar teaching has really made students much stronger at key stage 3.

English Mastery has helped me with my teaching practice. I am now much clearer in terms of how students go about retaining the knowledge that they have learnt. I really see how it links to GCSE. Over those two years in key stage 4, students need to embed certain contextual and factual knowledge. That’s something in the past I haven’t focused on in English, seeing it as more skills based. In terms of getting that foundation of actual content, English Mastery has really helped.

Impact report

The English Mastery impact report, published in 2018, concluded that, on average, students in schools that adopted English Mastery made 4 months’ more progress than similar students in schools that did not adopt the programme. We are really proud of the results. Read our full report and find out more about the difference the English Mastery programme is making to students across the country.

As well as having a promising effect on student progress, English Mastery is equally an investment in teachers. We want to help reduce workload and foster a scholarly community which gives teachers the tools and support they need to develop their own subject mastery.

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