“I have good reason to be content, for thank God I can read and perhaps understand Shakespeare.”
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
The English Department is a dedicated department of subject specialists with strong academic backgrounds, committed to sharing a passion for the subject, while providing a stimulating, dynamic, nurturing, yet intellectually rigorous experience of English for all students. The Department has its own designated classrooms with interactive whiteboards and a range of ICT resources.
Literacy and communication skills are taught as part of a balanced curriculum. We aim to empower students to use language effectively and confidently in writing and speaking and to foster an enthusiasm for literature, which we hope girls will take with them when they come to leave us as confident, sensitive and perceptive young women.
Forms I – III
Each year, junior girls can expect to study plays (at least one a year being by Shakespeare), novels, short stories, poetry and non-fiction prose, while continuing to improve their spelling, punctuation and grammar skills with specific recourse to the Spectrum SEN unit when extra support may be needed.
A love of literature is fostered not only through the enthusiasm and expertise of staff, but also through independent research projects, practical learning and class discussion. In Forms I and II (Years 7 and 8), students are taught in mixed ability groups. Then as girls mature they are set into three flexible ability groups to GCSE, which allows pupils to work to the highest level that each can attain.
Creative writing is fostered through a variety of visual and written stimuli designed to develop girls’ imaginations and the sophistication of their personal responses. Students are guided to read widely and for pleasure. The Department produces flexible and detailed reading lists, promoting discussion and recommendations from girls. Junior girls are actively encouraged to read fiction of their own choice.
World Book Day is a particularly special day in the academic year where staff and students work together to create an inspiring day for all students of English. Students enter national creative and critical writing competitions, as well as internal prize projects, such as the Novel Project. Girls also take part in an exhilarating House Poetry Declamation annually.
Speaking and listening also play a significant part in our assessment of the girls’ development.
“Poetry is what makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own.”
GCSE: Forms IV and V
At GCSE, students take both English Language and Literature, and pupils are entered for two distinct AQA examinations.
The English Language syllabus contains two examination papers. The first is entitled Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing and the second Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives. The girls study both fiction and non-fiction texts (including literary non-fiction). They learn how to write in a descriptive or narrative style, as well as how to promote an independent point of view.
The English Literature syllabus also contains two examination papers. The first is entitled Shakespeare and the Nineteenth Century Novel and the second Modern Texts and Poetry (including an analysis of an unseen poem).
“A home without books is a body without soul.”
At A Level, students follow the OCR English Literature syllabus.
The course contains both examination and coursework texts. Girls are encouraged to form independent, informed judgements and to place texts within their context and genre in order to understand their meanings. Students examine various critical responses to texts and explore different readings in order to consolidate their own interpretation.
Current texts for study include:
Shakespeare: Measure for Measure; Webster: The Duchess of Malfi; the Poetry of Coleridge; Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility; Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre; Thomas Hardy: Poems of 1912-13; Tom Stoppard: Arcadia.
To enrich students’ cultural experience of language and literature, we offer the opportunity to participate in a range of theatre trips, talks and writing workshops by writers, poets and lecturers.