'English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others, and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.'
The National Curriculum
All KS3 pupils embark upon a literary journey that allows them to experience and appreciate a varied canon. Starting with epic poetry, Year 7 explore the adventures of Beowulf, before moving onto Greek mythology where, inspired by Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, they are introduced to famous characters including Cyclops, Pegasus and Apollo.
Year 8 pupils embrace the Jacobean era, studying the exploits of Caliban and Ariel in The Tempest before moving onto the work of Romantic poets such as Wordsworth, Coleridge and Blake. As students enter Year 9 they begin GCSE preparatory work, studying To Kill a Mockingbird and a variety of wider world literature that allows for a greater engagement with the writers’ craft and an understanding of different cultures. All pupils are given the opportunity to develop creative writing skills.
GCSE English Literature
At KS4 all students study English Literature, sharpening their analytical skills and engaging with the central themes within a text, whilst showing an understanding of its social and historical context. This means pupils can explain why Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth was such a controversial woman for the 1600s or why J.B. Priestley chose to use the Inspector as his mouthpiece for social reform in An Inspector Calls.
Students gain a wide knowledge of history, culture, philosophy and even human behaviour.
GCSE English Language
All pupils study English Language and develop their skills of close analysis, engaging with the writers’ craft and showcasing their ability to deconstruct a text and explore its language, imagery and structure. Pupils improve their own writing skills, utilising rhetoric as a means of effective communication when writing to argue, advise or persuade.
A Level English Literature
English Literature is a popular subject at our Sixth Form but still taught in seminar-sized classes that provide a privileged experience of university-style teaching.
Year 12 and 13 pupils study a rich curriculum of poetry, prose and drama texts including A Streetcar Named Desire, Othello, The Wife of Bath’s Tale and Frankenstein.
They show a greater awareness of the views of literary critics and utilise critical arguments and movements to inform their own interpretations. When exploring The Handmaid’s Tale, for example, pupils can adopt a feminist stance, whilst Othello can be explored from a post-colonial viewpoint.