Here in the English Department at St Mary’s we love literature. And we want your child to love literature too. We aim to promote a lifelong enjoyment of reading and a greater confidence in employing the wonders of the English language in the written and spoken word. Blow the dust off those books, dip that quill in the ink and join us on our literary quest.
The most important skill we can impart to your child is confidence in the written and spoken word. We want to help all of our pupils expand their vocabulary, increase their ability in all technical areas of writing, and also promote to them a love of literature from a variety of times, authors and genres. We also appreciate the demands of this rigorous and academic subject at GCSE and beyond. It is, therefore, our mission to equip all of our pupils with the skills they need to gain these important qualifications from the moment that they join us in Year 7. We hope that the skills they acquire will continue to be relevant in the wider world long after they leave us.
Our Key Stage 3 curriculum is designed to develop the skills required of pupils at GCSE level and reflect the content of English Language and Literature specifications at GCSE. This will enable them to consolidate their abilities in reading and writing, and not be intimidated by GCSE level work when they begin these courses in Year 10. Our focus is on literature. We believe that language skills are best taught as part of a study of a core text. Some language skills, such as rhetorical and descriptive writing, may be taught discretely. A pupil in Key Stage 3 can expect to study:
- A selection of modern literature from the twentieth century onwards. These texts may include Animal Farm by George Orwell, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon;
- At least one Shakespeare text;
- At least one example of poetry from the Romantic Period, for example The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge;
- A selection of nineteenth century literature.
Every Key Stage 3 pupil is expected to keep a regular Reading Journal that records their own private reading outside of lesson time. It is standard practice in the department to allow one single lesson a week for the purposes of private reading and discussion of the books chosen.
We enter a new era of GCSE specifications from September 2015 with a new 1-9 grading system in English Language and English Literature. It is our expectation that most students will take both qualifications. Aside from an exploration of a variety of language skills and the application of different types of writing for different purposes, pupils will study:
- One Shakespeare text;
- A selection of modern and literary heritage poetry, including the poetry of the Romantic Period;
- A nineteenth century novel;
- A modern novel from the twentieth century.
This section will be updated further when our curriculum plans are ratified.
A study of a selection of poems from contemporary poets;
The study of two novels – ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley, and ‘The War of the Worlds’ by H G Wells;
The study of a drama text in the genre of Tragedy – ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ by Tennessee Williams.
The study of a Shakespeare Tragedy – ‘Othello’, in conjunction with the study of an anthology of critical writings on the play, its themes and characters;
The study of the poetry of John Keats;
The coursework unit, in which students select two texts for close analytical study.
Beyond the Classroom
The English Department regularly collaborates with other departments to stage a variety of drama productions. Since 2012, members of the department have:
- Produced and directed three Classical Greek tragedies: Medea (2012), Antigone (2014), and Ajax (2015). A forthcoming production of Electra is in preparation;
- Produced and directed the 2014 College musical of Grease.
Pupils are encouraged to contribute articles and creative writing to our annual in-house magazine Enigma.
Drama is an integral part of the units studied in lessons. However, a weekly drama club is also hosted for the theatrically inclined.