The English Department is part of a Faculty structure that includes Drama and Psychology (PETs) and links are strong with these departments – particularly Drama: the first Enrichment Day of the academic year involves teaching and performing Shakespeare for primary school students and a range of dramatic and literary activities are run by the teachers of the three departments. Similarly, the final Enrichment Day of the school calendar involves learning and performing an abridged Shakespeare play in a day – this activity, organised by English and Drama teachers, is enjoyed by all of Year 12, and runs alongside a Year 8 inter-departmental trip to the Globe Theatre in London. Two of the English staff also teach History, and the relationship between these departments is equally strong, with collaborative lectures frequently taking place at the Philosophy of History society meetings.
Key Stage 3: content
The study of English at Key Stage 3 covers three aspects: speaking & listening, reading, and writing. Girls develop skills in informal speech, such as group work or the creation and performance of dramatic monologues, and in more formal situations such as debate.
Students study a Shakespeare play in Year 8 and Year 9 to introduce them to the dramatist’s work and to prepare them for further study at GCSE.
In general, the writing tasks students undertake at Key Stage 3 include personal and creative pieces, and also more formal writing such as comment, editorial, official letters, argument and persuasion.
Key Stage 4: GCSE English Literature
At GCSE, students are entered for AQA GCSE in English Literature and English Language. Both English Literature and English Language courses are linear – examinations are taken at the end of the two-year course. There is no coursework.
Key Stage 5
In the Sixth Form, students currently have the choice of taking English at A Level or IB at Higher or Standard Level. As of September 2016, the IB will no longer be offered, and the Department will be running a single A Level course.
At A Level, students follow the AQA syllabus, ‘Love through the Ages’ in their first year. In their second year of the A Level, students prepare a Non Examination Assessment – their coursework, which is an independent piece of work supported through initial structured teaching.
IB students at Higher Level and Standard Level currently study a variety of texts. The course itself is divided into four parts, and is a combination of oral presentations, written coursework and the examination.
The English Department provide and oversee a wide variety of extra-curricular ‘literary’ activities, from debating, theatre visits, study days, creative writing societies and Slam Poetry clubs to the Sixth Form Close Reading group.