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.
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 for 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.
Key Stage 5
A Level Literature includes the in-depth study of poetry, prose and drama. In Year 12 students study Shakespeare, Modern Drama and Prose and Pre 1900 Poetry leading to a
Head of Department: Mrs J Marshall
terminal examination. In Year 13 they are also introduced to a variety of texts for coursework study and a comparative and contextual study for examination. We encourage independent learning, and personal preferences, through encouraging students to select texts for wider reading to expand their knowledge for examination and coursework, as well as making them into well-rounded students of literature.
To further develop our pupils’ appreciation of literature; girls have the opportunity to participate in the end of year whole school production. Also, every year, the House Arts Competition combines both drama and music. There is a lot of enthusiasm for these events. Senior girls take on much of the responsibility for directing, administration, and technical support. They carry these projects through with great style and initiative.
In recent years, we have upgraded lights and other technical equipment. There is great interest among senior girls to run the technical side of the productions. The Performing Arts Suite is in regular use for rehearsals and performances.
Here are some extracts from notes on recent productions.
House Arts 2015 brought to life on stage the great American Musical. Four classic musicals: “Show Boat”, “Barnum”, “Chicago” and “Guys and Dolls”, filled the stage with dance, song, laughter and drama.
Our themed year continued with a production of “Bugsy Malone” in the Spring Term. The hall was transformed into Fat Sam’s Speakeasy and the audience was transported to the mean streets of New York and the menace of the splurge gun!
Finally, the year ended with a heart-warming production of “Annie”. Once again in New York, we followed the trials and tribulations of our orphaned heroine’s attempts to find her mother and father.
There are many English related extra-curricular activities: House Arts and the end of year production all need enthusiastic actors, administrators, stage managers and directors. The department regularly organises theatre trips to see set texts and other plays in performance. 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 Glove Theatre. In 2015, pupils enjoyed a variety of cinema screenings of plays such as: The Globe’s "Macbeth", ‘Of Mice and Men’ from Broadway and Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘Hamlet’. The Department is committed to giving students every opportunity to see the texts they are studying brought to life on the stage.