The English Department at Poole Grammar School joined the PTI in 2008. This school for boys in Dorset has over 1,000 pupils, aged 12 to 18. With the exit of Key Stage 3 SAT tests, John Cutler, Head of the English Department, took it upon himself to rebuild the curriculum to provide more challenging, diverse and interesting schemes of work for the younger students.

“Working with the PTI has given us the confidence to develop our own enthusiasms and interests which, in turn, has helped to inspire and motivate the students.”

- John Cutler, Head of English

One new initiative was the Literacy Programme, focused on the promotion of reading for pleasure, and a rigorous study of writing skills. The programme has particularly helped students of lower ability and those for whom English is not their first language.

To complement this course, John built a number of schemes of work around literary texts, in order to give the students a sense of their literary history, and ensuring that they were challenged by full texts rather than mere extracts and excerpts. With the support of the PTI, a number of new texts have been successfully added to the curriculum.

In February 2011, the English Department was awarded an Outstanding rating, for the first time, in an impromptu Ofsted inspection. The curriculum was heralded as “a model for other schools” and the literacy initiative was judged “exceptional”. John gives much of the credit for this to the PTI for “supporting the study of complete, challenging texts and thus inspiring students to stretch themselves and to really enjoy their English lessons.”

Since joining the PTI, John has seen exam results improve at Poole and a number of clubs and societies launched to encourage creative writing, reading and debating skills. GCSE English A* grades have almost doubled over the past three years. 

Below: Pupils on World Book Night - a celebratory event awarding students who made significant progress in literacy.