The main aim of the English curriculum is to provide all pupils with the means by which they can develop their abilities to use and understand English to the full. We aim not only to prepare pupils for examinations but also to encourage them to enjoy reading and to become confident in their use of English in a range of situations.
In Years 7 to 9, pupils follow a syllabus designed to develop fluent and confident use of English. From the beginning, pupils are encouraged to develop good habits in planning, drafting and correcting written work and to communicate clearly, co-operatively and confidently within any oral work.
All Year 10 and 11 pupils are prepared for examinations in both English and English Literature. The course in Years One to Three will have provided pupils with the basic skills which they will then refine in both subjects as they are prepared for their GCSE examinations. Pupils are prepared specifically for each of their coursework units in both written and oral coursework, and for their examinations in English and English Literature. In addition, pupils are always encouraged to maintain a lively interest in literary fiction and in the ways in which English is used in the wider world.
In the Sixth Form, students are taught the means by which they can analyse texts and reach independent conclusions, increasing in fluency and sophistication of expression in both speech and writing. All students are encouraged to read widely, independently and critically.
The English Department is based in Queens Wing. All classrooms have data projection and the department has a wide range of literary resources and non-fiction resources, including a number of software programmes to aid understanding of reading and writing tasks.
In Fourth and Fifth Years, pupils follow GCSE courses in English (AQA) and English Literature (AQA). Both certificates require a substantial amount of coursework, activities being set by individual teachers.
At A Level, two subjects are offered within the discipline, both certificated by AQA (specification B):
- English Literature requires students to respond to a variety of different literary texts, as diverse as Chaucer and Faulks, from a range of periods. Students are encouraged to make connections between texts and contexts and form their own, informed, critical approach. Two coursework tasks are set in both the Upper and Lower Sixth.
- English Language involves reading a considerable variety of writing from analysis of everyday conversation to Chaucer. Students learn to analyse the ways in which language communicates in a variety of ways to a variety of audiences. Students complete two coursework tasks, in which they can respond creatively and independently, in both the AS and A Level courses.
As a department, all colleagues work hard to foster attributes such as self-motivation, self-discipline, a sense of responsibility and an ability to work with others. Teachers strive to inculcate technical accuracy in written work and assist individual pupils in their understanding of the elements of grammar.
Naturally, pupils are encouraged to enjoy reading of all kinds and in Years 7 to 9, a library lesson takes place once per cycle. An integrated approach is taken to English studies at all levels. Class work might typically include group, pair and individual work. At GCSE, the majority of written coursework is completed in Year 10, allowing time in Year 11 for preparation for examinations in both subjects.
In the Sixth Form, students are encouraged to develop a more independent approach to study and to assert their own interpretations of texts through informed, open discussion and through more formal essay and creative responses which will test their abilities. The department works closely with the Drama Department and the Library and runs a number of clubs and support sessions for students of all ages.