In year nine we teach a novel, a Shakespeare play, a poetry unit, short stories, and different kinds of writing, as well as language work. In the Spring there is a poetry competition every year and all entries are published in an anthology. Each pupil also goes to the library for one period of silent reading every week so that there is a well-established tradition of reading for pleasure. The English block is fully equipped with 25 networked and internet linked computers.
The department offers three separate GCSEs: English, English Literature and Media Studies. For English, students study a Shakespeare play, a novel and poetry. They also have the opportunity to produce personal writing, and to talk individually and in small groups, both of which are assessed as coursework.
Literature GCSE involves the further study of plays, novels and poetry, and is aimed at students who enjoy reading and discussing. At present, both Language and Literature are taken by the top set in each year group. Media Studies emphasises the moving image and a practical assignment.
These courses can be studied to ‘A’ level and all have successful pass rates. Media Studies has proven to be particularly useful for students who might not succeed elsewhere in the curriculum. Although this course does involve written elements there is a large emphasis on practical production.
At ‘A’ level we follow the AQA combined Language and Literature course. The advantage of this is that this course caters for students who are keen to read more challenging literature as well as those who wish to advance their creative writing beyond GCSE. Lessons are active, with little emphasis on traditional note-taking, and with the bonus of extremely small groups of 2 – 6 students.
The department is responsible for producing the School Magazine, ‘Voice’. This is run as a voluntary activity after school, with most of the research, photography, page design and writing done by the pupils themselves.