English, with its combination of technical and creative elements, is a unique subject with no clear limits and in our opinion this is what makes it so special. Our students enjoy English because their own personal contribution really matters. We aspire to instil a lasting enthusiasm for language and literature and to ensure that this wonderful subject is enjoyable and memorable for all our students, giving them the skills needed to speak confidently and fluently, and to write with accuracy and sophistication.
From Upper 3 – Upper 4 (Years 7 – 9), we follow our own syllabus. Our pupils are inspired by a rich diet of classic and modern literary, dramatic, non-fiction and media texts. We expect our students to be active while learning and so discussion, performance and collaboration are fundamental to our approach.
We offer an extensive programme of cultural activities that enhance the students’ response to literature and life on a wider scale. For instance, we maintain that Drama should be seen as well as read and so organise regular theatre trips and dramatic workshops with travelling companies. We encourage our students to participate in a range of opportunities to extend their writing; the girls submit work for BBC Radio 2’s 500-word Story Competition and dream up fairy tales for the Young Writers’ Creative Writing Challenge. Likewise, we team up with the ICT Department for BBC School Report which aims to use the English language in a journalistic context.
At GCSE we follow the AQA syllabus for English Language and English Literature. The two subjects are taught as an integrated course over the two years, although pupils are awarded a separate GCSE grade for each.
GCSE students are introduced to a wide array of texts and styles and will develop their analytical reading and writing, as well as having ample opportunity for creative composition. They will also engage in a more detailed study of set literary texts: a Shakespeare play, a novel, a play and a selection of poems. At the end of the two years, pupils sit three examinations, which test the skills of comprehension, transactional writing, descriptive writing, and literary analysis. Pupils are assessed throughout the course on Speaking and Listening, which involves a variety of tasks, ranging from formal presentations to debates and role play.