As a department, we take pride in developing the enjoyment of reading and writing in a disciplined atmosphere of mutual respect. Correct written English is very important to us; so too is creativity, a quality that we aim to foster in our teaching.
English is, of course, a vital subject in that the skills covered here underpin the whole curriculum. Moreover, any course of study beyond GCSE demands proof of achievement here, and literacy skills are necessary for the world of work. Perhaps more importantly, however, the study of English equips young people with the communication skills that allow them to present themselves confidently, encourages creativity in written and oral expression, and develops a love for literature that will last a lifetime.
As at all levels, our teaching is literary text based: each year, pupils read a wide range of novels, plays and poems, as well as non-fiction material. Writing arises naturally out of reading: reading and writing are inseparable companions, and pupils write in a wide variety of genres and formats for a variety of audiences.
We see the Library as an essential learning resource, and pupils in the first two years will enjoy library lessons. The Accelerated Reader system is used in the First Year to underpin the whole school literacy strategy. Pupils enjoy many drama based activities, both when reading plays, and also as a response to reading other forms of text. The use of information technology is also encouraged, and pupils will practise their ICT skills in the production of project work and also for display: we pride ourselves on our showcasing of pupils' work, celebrating their achievement. Many pupils produce poetry that is published in various regional and national collections.
A designated member of the department has responsibility for each of the Lower School years in order to oversee commonality of some tests and assessment across the year group.
Functional Skills Award for lower sets.
English Language, English Literature
Board: Edexcel IGCSE
Pupils follow a literacy based teaching programme, enjoying a wide variety of texts both literary and non-fiction, of all text-types and from a range of writers, to equip them with the skills they will need to succeed here. In the Fourth Year, the texts studied will not be formally examined, but instead allow pupils the opportunity to explore narrative techniques, study the importance of context, and discuss themes, issues and concerns. The texts will also provide springboard opportunities for original writing, both creative and transactional, in a wide variety of forms.
At the end of the Fourth Year some pupils will take Functional Skills English Level 2. This will give them the chance to gain a qualification in English Language, as well as providing diagnostic information on those needing more support.
In the Fifth Year, the same teaching approach will be followed, but using examination texts. The qualifications will be assessed at the end of the course: both English Language and English Literature have two terminal examinations. There is no written coursework.
English Language and English Literature
The English Language course involves the study of the way we use language not just as a communication tool, but to reflect attitudes, biases and reinforce - or challenge - societal norms. We analyse language (both oral and written) in use in real situations; the subject is an exciting and empowering one for students, as they are, naturally, already expert users of language!
English Literature allows pupils to widen their literary knowledge and to develop and trust their own critical faculties whilst studying a range of texts from a variety of genres and contexts. Texts read range from the 14th to the 21st centuries; pupils focus not just on textual knowledge, but on the reasons for the writer's linguistic and structural choices, on assessing the validity of critical opinions, and on how the context both of the text and the reader affects how the text is read.
Theatre trips, often jointly with the Drama Department; theatrical companies' visits to the school; The Scribblers' Club; The Reading Club; The Debating Society and various visiting speakers.