Our mission as a department centres on fostering a love of English, how we develop character (not just analysing them!) and intelligence through the exploration of literature, motivating students to achieve their potential in this subject regardless of their background.
We want students to become confident critical readers of fiction and non-fiction, poetry and prose as well as understand the impact language can have on an audience. Beyond just reading books or preparing for exams, students learn to communicate their ideas effectively in their writing and speech- skills essential for future success.
What will you learn about?
Students engage with literature from that begins in the pre-1900 era to the present day, across three key stages. They explore connections to relevant non-fiction texts; thematically grouped poetry; Shakespearean drama and modern drama in Key Stage 4.
Beginning in Year 7 students will learn about the key components of stories through examining gothic storytelling before putting what they have learned into practice by writing their own narrative; the importance of social justice and a first taste of public speaking via our in house competition ‘Baron Burns’ and the study of Orwell’s Animal Farm; an introduction to Shakespeare and his play The Tempest is the final unit, designed to prepare students for future study the following year.
Year 8 students focus largely on ‘whole texts’, comparing non-fiction and fiction side by side and exploring links between Shakespeare’s plays and his poetry. Year 8 students read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol whilst exploring written accounts of urban life in 19th Century Britain; Of Mice and Men is studied in the second term alongside another opportunity to debate critical social issue such as race and gender; and the exploration of love and relationships Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and linked poetry in the final summer term.
In the last year of Key Stage 3, Year 9, students focus on the skills needed for GCSE. This year bridges the gap between the two Key Stages, examining a Shakespeare play- Romeo and Juliet and a complete unit of study linked directly to the GCSE examination- Victorian & Love and Relationships poetry. Students currently study Of Mice and Men as part of our covid-recovery strategy. In the next academic year 2022-2023, this will be replaced by a new unit- Modern Voices, which aims to discover how common themes explored in previous units have been presented in 21st century texts.
We currently follow the AQA specification at GCSE (English Language and English Literature, English), and AQA at A Level (English Literature). A Level English Literature is a popular path for many sixth formers, who often go on to study English Literature at University.
The texts studied at GCSE are currently: Macbeth, Love and Relationships Poetry, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and An Inspector Calls.
To be successful in this subject students will need to be good at and enjoy:
Students should develop good reading and pre-reading habits. The most successful students read and are read to frequently, whether fiction or non-fiction, and are given the opportunity to discuss their feelings and ideas both in school and at home. It is essential that students learn to read independently the material they study in class and read widely linked texts at home which is supported by parents.
We expect all students to play their part in creating a positive learning environment in English lessons; often we explore difficult themes which require a level of maturity. It is crucial that students are able to engage with these topics seriously.
Progression routes & career opportunities
The ability to communicate effectively is essential to all walks of life. Leaving school with a pass in English enables students to progress in any chosen field and immediately opens avenues and doors otherwise shut off. Students may continue to study English at A Level, as it is regarded by employers and top universities as being a subject of value and demonstrates an individual’s ability to think and communicate in a structured and critical way. Students who graduate with an English degree find opportunities with many different employers. Public and private sector organisations such as the National Health Service (NHS), educational institutions, local and national government, financial and legal firms, and voluntary and charitable organisations employ English graduates in a range of roles
Only one extended homework is set per half term, which his used to enable students to reflect on the skills being developed for that unit of study. Typically, other regular homework is set once or twice fortnightly and is used to build on knowledge gained in the classroom. Students will complete a number of low stakes assessments which may not appear as part of their progress reports, but are used to inform teaching.