“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.”
(C.S.Lewis)

 “Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.”
(Barbara W.Tuchman)

Aims

The study of English involves thinking, questioning, exploring and creating. We hope that our students will become highly skilled writers and readers, who are able to understand, criticise and utilise the tools of language for a range of purposes.

We also strive, through the study of literature, to engage students in considering and exploring the world in which they live, and in understanding some of the bigger questions of life that have intrigued the human mind over all periods of literary history, from Dickens to Morpurgo; from Shakespeare to Bennett.

We also encourage our students to be keen readers, writers, speakers and thinkers; many girls take part in a wide range of related activities available in school, including creative writing competitions and workshops, debating and many more.

 

Curriculum

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10 & 11

Year 12

Year 13

Term 1

Autumn Term 1

Unit 1: The Novel

An exciting guided reading unit where groups select a challenging novel to explore.

Spring Term 1

Unit 3: Exploring Drama

Students study a play with historical significance. Students explore shifting narratives in White Poppies.

Summer Term 1

Unit 5: Texts from Other Cultures

Students study a range of texts from other cultures and investigate their influence on western literature.

Term 2

Autumn Term 2

Unit 2:  Introduction to Poetry

Students explore a range of poetic forms/ their origins and use their knowledge to create their own poetry anthology.

Spring Term 2

Unit 4: Shakespeare Play

Teachers select one of Shakespeare’s comedies or problem plays for in-depth analysis.

Summer Term 2

Unit 6: Transactional Reading and Writing

An extended project using the earthquake in Haiti as a stimulus for non-fiction writing.

Term 1

Autumn Term 1

Unit 1: Analysis and Transactional Writing

Students study a range of non-fiction texts and evaluate how successfully they convey meaning for their audiences.

Spring Term 1

Unit 3: Shakespearean Comedy

Students study the fantastic fun and frolics in Shakespeare’s comedy, Much Ado about Nothing.

Summer Term 1

Unit 5: Macbeth on the Loose

Investigating Shakespearean stories in a different guise, students investigate Shakespeare’s tragedy in an ‘alternative’ setting!

Term 2

Autumn Term 2

Unit 2: Novel Study

Winner of the 2006 Coretta Scott King Author Award In this historical masterpiece, Julius Lester tells the story of a family sold to the slave trade.

Spring Term 2

Unit 4: War Poetry

WW1 poets such as Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Rupert Brooke come under the literary microscope.

Summer Term 2

Unit 6: Creative Writing and ‘Cooking the Books’

Students look closer at some of the nuances of language and study parody and satire.

Term 1

Autumn Term 1

Unit 1: Reading for Implied Meanings

Students look at C19th fiction, narrative hooks, mood and atmosphere, the importance of context.

Spring Term 1

Unit 3: Non-fiction and poetry

Students use non-fiction sources to inspire their own poetic creations

Summer Term 1

Unit 5: Shakespeare and Non-Fiction (2)

Students use their study of a Shakespearean tragedy to inspire their non-fiction writing.

Term 2

Autumn Term 2

Unit 2: Writing with Purpose, Audience and Form

Students cover a range of writing topics and understand how to scaffold texts for a range of purposes and audiences.

Spring Term 2

Unit 4: Shakespeare and Non-Fiction

Students use their study of a Shakespearean tragedy to inspire their non-fiction writing.

Summer Term 2

Unit 6: Modern Text

Students study a modern text in preparation for their GCSE study.

Term 1

English Language

1

2

3

Term 2

English Literature

4

5

Term 1

6

Term 2

7

Term 1

8

9

Term 2

10

Staff

  • Miss T Goodyear (Head of Department)
  • Mrs L Mckee (Second in Department)
  • Miss J Glendenning  (Assistant Headteacher)
  • Miss M McDonnell
  • Miss D Plante-Bekenn
  • Ms E Gallagher

Additional Information

Additional Information

The English department is forward-thinking and innovative in its practice and is constantly striving to enable students to reach their full academic potential in the subject. English is popular amongst students, who enjoy the lessons, the styles of teaching and relish the challenges they are faced with.

The subject is a popular option for Sixth Form students and many have gone on to study English at undergraduate level at universities such as Oxford and Cambridge.

How to improve

  • Read, read, read….
  • Use the resources of the library; it contains a plethora of texts, whether for background reading/ research purposes or the sheer joy of reading. Mrs Harris can help you with any queries you have.
  • Read around the subject, especially if you are GCSE and A level students. The more awareness you have of the context, genre, and literary tradition of the texts you are studying, the greater your understanding of the issues/perspectives of the writers will be. This is also becoming significantly important as the future GCSE in development focuses on a much wider range of texts.
  • Write down and learn corrected spellings after each piece of work
  • Ask for grammar, spelling or punctuation worksheets for additional support. The department has a lot of resources that are readily available to all students. Please learn how to use apostrophes correctly. From 2015, 20% of the GCSEs will be awarded for correct spelling, punctuation and grammar.
  • Be proactive. If you are told that you need to update notes/character profiles/theme grids/plot summaries/tension graphs, etc. make sure you do this on an ongoing basis. All this information will be vital to your success; both in an end of unit assessment but also in order for you to understand texts being studied.

The English Department works closely with an external Literacy Support teacher, Mr Waggott. Mr Waggott supports students with EAL difficulties. If you feel any of these members of staff can provide you with additional support, please discuss it with your subject teacher. Likewise, if your subject teacher has recommended you have support from these members of staff make the most of this opportunity. It is not something to feel embarrassed about; they are all here to maximise your enjoyment and understanding of the subject (and indeed all your written subjects).

How can parents help?

Recent studies and statistics show that reading is the most beneficial activity to support learning and development across the curriculum. A study by the OECD found that learners that read for up to 30 minutes per day perform significantly beyond their age group, compared with those learners who do not read at all [OECD (2002) Reading for Change: Performance and engagement across countries p.16-17].

The correlation between reading and learning in English is marked, hence why we believe it should be a top priority for students. There are many ways you can support this at home to support:

  • Be seen to be reading regularly (this can be any texts: newspapers, articles, novels, journals, plays, poetry);
  • Discuss your reading with your children (what have you enjoyed? What have you not enjoyed so much? What other novels/ texts does it remind you of?);
  • Take an interest in their reading material- all students are expected to take part in the school’s Reading Challenges, ask them to describe characters, plot, events to you;
  • Encourage your daughter to take an interest in current affairs- use this as a stimulus for conversation ( you could use the ‘Agree, Build, Challenge’ mantra which is a good way to engage in a conversation/ debate (there’s a useful Blog post on this style of questioning here: https://www.theconfidentteacher.com/2013/12/disciplined-discussion-easy-abc/)
  • Keep a reading journal of your own, model effective behaviours to your child.
  • Help them learn complex spellings- you may keep a spelling book at home or test them during a long journey.

If your daughter feels as though she is struggling, there is help available outside of her English lessons. The department has an English Clinic, which runs every week. Here, your daughter can bring her work or anything she is having difficulty with and have one-to-one support with an English teacher or a trained English Assistant.

Where next

English is a versatile subject that is marketable in the majority of career areas. English graduates often go on to careers where communication and effective written English are valued; the subject does offer a plethora of possible career paths. With a qualification in English, you could pursue a careers in writing, journalism, publishing, law, teaching, advertising, business, accounting, finance… the list goes on!

Opportunities out of lessons

English opportunities out of lessons

All department members contribute actively and energetically to the life of the school, for example organising “The Beacon” the school magazine published at the end of the academic year and Junior and Senior Debating societies.

As well as these ongoing activities, we also encourage students to enter external competitions, including the Birmingham Young Poet Laurette. Any competitions are advertised on the notice boards in the playroom and Sixth Form Common Room.

We endeavour to organise evening trips to the theatre when possible and arrange other extra curricular opportunities when they arise. Every World Book Day, year 8 work with Celia Rees, using her book Pirates! as the stimulus for their creative representation of the text through art, dance, music, creative writing or drama.

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English opportunities parents can provide

  • Theatre trips: this does not necessarily have to be texts we are studying. As we study a range of plays, the experience of seeing any production on stage will be beneficial.
  • Adaptations of novels/plays are often televised and can be worth watching. The BBC often has ‘seasons’ on a particular writer, which would also be useful to provide context for your daughter. Examples in the past are Jane Austen, William Shakespeare and Mary Shelley.
  • Encouraging your daughter to use the school library as well as a local library.
  • Encouraging your daughter to read newspapers and a range of non-fiction texts will be beneficial to enhance their reading/writing skills. It will also make them aware of what is happening around them and the topics that they may need to explore in an examination situation.
  • Encouraging your daughter to take part in activities being run in school and to speak to their subject teacher if they have concerns.
  • Discussing the texts your daughter is studying with them. It will help your daughter consolidate her knowledge and give her the opportunity to express her opinions on a range of different issues.

Useful links