The English Department (English, Film and Media Studies)
We are a dynamic and creative department who are student-centred. Student engagement in learning is seminal: we are restless in adapting and updating units of work from KS3 – KS5 to ensure that they are relevant and remain engaging to our evolving cohorts of students. Embedding excellent literacy in students, and working with other departments in the school to ensure this is consistent, is high on our agenda.
Furthermore, Teaching and Learning across the department is consistently at the highest level and we work together tirelessly, through constant scrutiny and by observing each other teach, to maintain this, in order to ensure that students have the best experience of learning in our subjects. We frequently students from across the school in order to ensure that the student experience in English is the best it can be. Students have described English as “exciting”, “the best subject” and “enriching”: high praise indeed! Our 2016 external Departmental Review found that most of the students interviewed cited English as their favourite subject.
English through the Key Stages
As a department, we work collaboratively to keep our year plans fresh and to harness the creativity of our cohorts. We have a progressive approach to learning and view the curriculum as a gradual building, developing and consolidating of skills from age 11-18. We continue to overhaul and update units of work in line with the new Curriculum requirements and to ensure that student engagement is at the forefront of learning.
Key Stage 3 Curriculum
We provide a rich and varied Key Stage 3 curriculum with students studying a range of classic, canonical texts and more contemporary works. These include a yearly Shakespeare text, Great Expectations, Animal Farm, Cider with Rosie, War Horse, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and units such as a Sherlock Holmes media unit and a variety of seminal world literature and performance poetry. We ensure that our curriculum from KS3 to KS4 in progressive and, at the end of Year 9 students are assessed on their Reading and Writing Skills using GCSE papers in order to consolidate skills learned and prepare them for the rigours that lie ahead.
Key Stage 4 Curriculum
We currently study the AQA specification at GCSE. There is a huge onus, in the ever changing landscape of English, on all students taking English Language and Literature at the end of Key Stage 4. We believe that studying literature can enthuse, engage and impassion students and strive to ensure that we develop our students into keen readers who read for pleasure and enrichment as this is the key to creating students, and ultimately adults, with excellent operational literacy! At Key Stage 4, we have recently developed new units of study including fiction reading and writing units and Literature units on texts such as The Woman in Black, The Romantic poets, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Blood Brothers. We are relentless in our commitment to ensuring that students study a variety of texts throughout their years here.
In our first year of teaching the new 9-1 specifications, we were incredibly proud that 17 students attained level 9s at GCSE. This equates to 15% of the cohort compared with 3% nationally.
Key Stage 5 Curriculum
We are one of the most popular A-level subject choices with students leaving us and going on to study Law, Journalism, English or Philosophy. The Key Stage 5 Curriculum is balanced and engaging with room for creativity as well as academic rigour. Students study texts ranging from canonical classics such as Hamlet and Wuthering Heights to a Streetcar Named Desire and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Our A-C pass-rate at A-level has been at 100% for the past 2 academic years and our A-B pass-rate at 60% with 5 A*s attained in 2017. We have been commended in recent years by inspectors and visitors to the school on the academic atmosphere of our A-level classes with the 2013 Ofsted report and the 2016 external review focusing on the outstanding teaching noted in an A-level English class.
We also offer excellent GCSE resit or first entry opportunity to Sixth form students – tailoring provision to their needs and ensuring the same expectations and academic rigours of KS4 are applied here.
The wider student experience is central to our departmental ethos. The English department run a range of extra-curricular enrichment opportunities including theatre trips, debating societies and creative writing competitions. We have worked very successfully on Film-making projects with the BFI in recent years, with 2 films winning “Best editing” (Head Boy) and “Best Film” (Macbeth) and we are always looking to cultivate new up-and-coming directors! We run a series of residential trips for Sixth form students including a trip to Bronte country and another to Thomas Hardy’s rural Dorset as well as harnessing an excellent relationship with Keats’ House Museum. We plan to extend this to KS3 and KS4 with planned trips to Stratford Upon Avon for the study of Shakespeare and the Lake District to enable us to explore the landscape of The Romantics.
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