Mrs E Booton-Ford
English is taught by a lively team of specialists. The subject develops a number of skills including sensitivity to language, ability to analyse texts and creativity. Work is divided into thematic or skills-based units: for example, “Shakespeare’s Comedies”, “Persuasion and Rhetoric” or “Narrative Voice”. Students study a range of text types covering prose (fiction and non-fiction), poetry and plays, and are given opportunities to develop their writing skills in a variety of ways. Drama and Spoken Language activities bring another dimension to lessons. We also place considerable value on accuracy in writing as this is the lens through which ideas are viewed. Students are encouraged to become independent learners and the department actively fosters a spirit of enquiry in the girls. At all Key Stages, we try to lift our gaze beyond the everyday and discuss the importance of reading for pleasure, and to develop a greater awareness of the world around us. Wider independent reading is fostered throughout Key Stage 3, and into Key Stage 4 as preparation for A Level Literature.
What skills will I develop?
The aim of studying English is to introduce students to a varied selection of reading texts from different periods of history and different contexts in order to foster an appreciation of writer’s craft. To also transfer skills from their study of reading to their own writing to encourage them to write for a range of different audiences, contexts and purposes. To develop confidence in articulating their ideas in spoken form in a range of different contexts and, therefore, enhance their presentational and listening skills.
Engagement with Reading:
The ERIC scheme (Everyone Reads in Class) begins in Year 7, where pupils are encouraged, independently, to read widely towards a series of certificates that celebrate their achievements. Independent reading is further encouraged through the Accelerated Reader programme that also introduces the pupils to the library as a resource. Star Readers are celebrated in class and on the ERIC display board on the English Corridor. In Year 8 their responses to reading are furthered through a reading journal. Here they are encouraged to again read widely and to celebrate this reading through creative responses. The reading journals are judged at the end of the year, prizes awarded, and the work celebrated as a display on the English corridor. Finally, in Year 9, the ERIC scheme culminates in the extended reading project that focuses on literature from other cultures and traditions. Pupils read one novel as a close study and deliver a formal presentation to their class. Each half term, throughout Key Stage 3, classes are taken regularly to the library to follow a series of lessons closely linked to the reading scheme. Wider reading is then encouraged throughout Key Stages 4 and 5 both in and away from the classroom.
Expertise in Writing:
The curriculum gives pupils lots of opportunities to practise different writing styles for a range of purpose and audiences. Each week in Years 7 to 9, pupils do an activity based on a word of the week, this is specifically designed to broaden vocabulary and to ensure that vocabulary is used in the right way and address common misconceptions. Each teaching unit in Key Stage 3 has a Learning Journey sheet that also directs pupils to subject specific terminology. In Years 10 and 11 the students are given a booklet to independently support the development of their writing. The booklet has a range of examples of different styles of writing and accompanying writing tasks. The school has a web-based magazine, run by an editorial student panel, which aims to celebrate examples of excellent writing practice. Writing can be submitted by teachers and pupils. Teachers actively encourage pupils to participate in writing competition, a good example being The BBC “100 Word Competition” that is run by the school’s librarian.
Key Stage 3:
- The study of the short story form and the generic features of a mystery story
- Journalistic writing to include local news, tabloid and broadsheet and magazine
- The study of a class novel with a particular focus on narrative point of view
- Different text types to include web sites, leaflets that lead to in-depth on travel writing
- An introduction to poetry and verse form through an examination of the ballad
- Introduction to Shakespeare that covers Comedy, Tragedy, History and the Roman plays.
- The study of a class novel with a particular focus on the analysis of writer’s craft. Wider reading study of literature from other cultures and traditions.
- Writing to persuade, advise and inform with a particular focus on a charitable campaign
- The study of a Shakespeare play that introduces analytical essay writing skills
- Writing to review and comment
- Study of the sonnet including form, subject matter and history
- Literary heritage text: the study of Great Expectations to include context, characterisation and Dickens’ writing style
- Rhetoric and persuasion to culminate in the delivery of a persuasive speech to the class
- Study of Romeo and Juliet to include a full formal essay and the practical study of Shakespeare in performance
- Short stories from other cultures and traditions, using these as a stimulus for creative writing
- First World War poetry.
- The study of ‘An Inspector Calls’.
Key Stage 4:
Work is strongly influenced by the requirements of the GCSE specifications in English Language and English Literature, which culminates in terminal examinations. Pupils study English Language skills to enable them to communicate information and ideas and explore effects and impact. For English Literature they study a range of texts comprising: Modern Drama, Shakespeare, Literary Heritage and Poetry. Students also study the spoken language form and deliver a formal presentation to their class as part of the English Language GCSE requirements. In Year 10 students are examined either through essays set for homework tasks or timed assessments in class. In Year 11, all assessments are completed as timed tasks in class. The course is as follows in half termly units:
- The novel: Jane Eyre, Jekyll and Hyde or A Christmas Carol
- Language Section A skills
- Language Section B skills and Spoken Language
- An Inspector Calls and unseen drama material
- Revision of Section A skills
- Completion of Macbeth and revision
- Revision of Section B skills
- Completion of poetry and unseen poetry material
Key Stage 5:
A Level Literature includes the in-depth study of poetry, prose and drama. For examination, students study American literature 1880-1940, Shakespeare, Drama and Poetry Pre 1900. For coursework they complete the study of modern poetry for a one-thousand-word close textual analysis essay and the comparison of Prose and Drama for a two-thousand-word comparative study. The course is as follows in termly units:
‘The Great Gatsby’ and unseen American literature
‘The Merchant’s Tale’ and ‘The Duchess of Malfi’
‘Motherhood’ Liz Berry – poetry coursework
‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ – comparative coursework
Completion of poetry coursework
‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ to complete comparative coursework
‘A Farewell to Arms’, comparison with ‘The Great Gatsby’ and unseen American literature
Completion of ‘The Merchant’s Tale’ and ‘The Duchess of Malfi’
The English department has a full commitment to the school’s enrichment programme as a way to fully immerse our pupils in the world of the arts. We take every opportunity to visit the theatre or take classes to see productions live streamed at the cinema. Each year, Year 7 have an activities day at the Lighthouse Cinema and Media Centre to explore Shakespeare’s comedies and watch a live stream of a play from the Globe Theatre. Year 8 participate in a Performance Poetry competition that involves professional poets and they have a talk from a visiting author. Year 9 have a “Shakespeare Day” where they participate in drama workshops with professional actors and watch a live screening of ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Every year, in the Autumn Term, the whole school participates in House Arts and the theme of the competition is then continued in the end of year whole school production. The competition gives pupils the chance to direct, act, be part of the choir and look at the technical aspects of their performance. We always end the year with a production, and we often take the opportunity to perform at a local theatre to allow the girls to perform in a professional space. Here is an example of how House Arts and the whole school production work together: In 2019 each house brought to life a Juke Box Musical based upon the life and works of Elvis Presley. This year of American Blues music culminated in a production of “Sister Act” at the Arena theatre.