The teaching staff within our English Department work closely together and inspire students with their enthusiasm for literature and learning. The smaller class sizes enable us to get to know each and every student, their academic strengths and, almost more importantly, their likes and dislikes. This allows us to tailor the English curriculum to suit each girl and assists us in setting regular measurable targets. We pride ourselves on our ability to differentiate in this manner.
From Year 9 the girls are divided into sets; this continues throughout their GCSE years, where there are normally three sets in the year group. Those girls who find English more challenging will find themselves in a group of as few as seven or eight students, so that they are supported as much as possible. As well as this individual attention in lessons, our teachers are happy to meet students during breaks to support them with particular issues.
In Year 7 the girls are transported to South Africa during the apartheid era, and follow Naled and Tiro on their epic journey, guided by the author, Beverly Naidoo. They are also introduced to the Anglo-Saxon poem “Beowulf” and the work of Chaucer and Shakespeare. By Year 10 students will have studied “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Macbeth” and literature about the First World War. They will have learned to write in a myriad of styles, preparing them fully for their GCSEs.
In Year 8 the girls may take part in a Shakespeare workshop with professional actors. In Year 9 students head off to the Somme, in conjunction with the History Department, to gain a deeper understanding of the poetry of Wilfred Owen and others who fought in World War One. In Years 10 and 11 we take the girls on relevant theatre excursions, supporting their study of plays for the GCSE courses. By the end of Year 11, many of the girls choose to continue studying English Language or English Literature for A level.
Reading and the Library
To encourage students’ enthusiasm for reading widely, we liaise closely with our Librarian and follow the “Reading Matters” scheme. This provides an exciting programme for readers of different abilities to follow, as they work towards achieving the three levels of awards. Award certificates are presented to the readers in assemblies.
As well as celebrating academic achievement, we feel it is important to provide opportunities for students to see the relevance of English in the wider world. We achieve this through a range of clubs and activities, run at different times during the school year, such as:
Debate Club runs at lunchtime and is very popular with all year groups. Wide-ranging thorny issues are tackled enthusiastically. Presentation skills are developed in this supportive forum, and it is fantastic for students to develop their confidence in engaging with such important matters.
Creative Writing Club
Creative Writing Club is a lunchtime club which meets to give girls an opportunity to express themselves creatively in a number of different forms. Competitions are entered, and pieces can be published on our website.
BBC School Report
A group of students, normally in Year 9, get together to plan, prepare and publish a webpage or news programme on a chosen news topic. Publication is on a nationwide BBC format in mid-March.