Within English, students work on the four areas of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. The fundamentals of Reading and Writing are continually re-visited through the teaching of grammar, through literary analysis, and through writing pieces which require them to use different styles and registers. There is also a strong emphasis on oral work throughout the English curriculum and students are taught to communicate with clarity, confidence and purpose in a variety of different forums. They are also taught and encouraged to use ICT effectively to complement their work within English.
With English Literature it is our policy to deepen each student’s understanding of texts by placing them in a wider historical and literary context. Students are expected to undertake research, thereby gaining a better understanding of the moral and social issues within a novel, play or poem. We encourage students to use the school library and the internet for background study, often setting them an individual topic to research and present.
The English Faculty is also keen to offer students a range of extra-curricular activities. There is a film club and a book club. Theatre trips are organised, as are trips to lectures, museums and other events. We also invite visiting theatre groups and authors. The English Society organises meetings, trips and social events. Guest speakers in the past have included published authors, academics and examiners, and students themselves organise workshops, quizzes and dinners. In English we therefore aim to develop creativity whilst equipping students with the tools to express themselves appropriately, accurately and confidently. We provide a positive and pleasant environment that promotes critical analysis, communication and consideration of the views of others through the use of texts and class discussion.
The Faculty has its own designated area within the school, with eight classrooms, equipped with ceiling-mounted projectors, and a faculty/seminar room used for some sixth form classes and clubs. We also have on our doorstep the BMS Library and Resources Centre. This is run by a professional librarian who keeps the library stocked with up-to-date children’s and adult fiction as well as non-fiction texts, newspapers and magazines. All students in Years 7-9 visit the Library every fortnight as part of their English curriculum.
Years 7-9 Curriculum
In KS3 we balance the nurturing of creativity and literary sensitivity with the development of written accuracy and appropriateness of register over a wide variety of tasks. Our units of work include Shakespeare, Poetry, Non-fiction, Pre-1914 prose, Creative writing and Contemporary novels/drama. We operate a spiral curriculum in which we are constantly revisiting skills at an increasingly sophisticated level, whilst teaching new skills and vocabulary which will prepare our students for the demands of I/GCSE.
All students in Year 11 take I/GCSEs in English Literature (Eduqas) and English Language (Edexcel); most groups pursue an integrated course with a single teacher. Seven lessons are scheduled in the two week cycle in Year 10, with eight lessons in Year 11. Certain topics, skills and texts are covered in Year 10 in preparation for internal exams, but otherwise teachers have freedom to choose texts and organise the components of the course across five terms to suit the needs of their groups. The English Literature syllabus requires students to study four texts – two plays (including a Shakespeare play), a novel and a collection of poems. Responses to Unseen poetry are also assessed. The English Language syllabus requires students to study an anthology of non-fiction writing and the skill of transactional writing, both of which are examined. Students also complete two pieces of coursework – one piece of imaginative writing and an essay on their critical reading of two poems or short stories from a collection provided by the exam board.
Co-curricular, Enrichment, Extension and Support
- Y7-9 Book Club – this weekly lunchtime club is held in our seminar room. The students discuss books they have enjoyed, engage in group reading of particular texts and enjoy quizzes and book craft activities.
- Fully Booked – a half-termly staff and sixth form book club. Theatre trips – wherever possible we take students to see live performances of the plays they are studying.
- Poetry and Prose Cafe – a weekly opportunity for staff and sixth formers to discuss a contemporary poem or a short piece of prose.
- English Society – a sixth form society organising talks, quizzes and other events.
- The Scribbler is a literary magazine for the students, by the students. An editorial team of students write, commission and edit creative and critical work by students. The focus is on celebrating achievement and extending opportunities for developing critical and journalistic styles of writing. We aim to produce The Scribbler at least once per term.
- The Eagle is the School’s full colour publication, appearing twice a year. A student editor and designer commission reviews and other features. A member of the English Faculty has oversight of the production process.
- Support – we offer a weekly drop-in for Year 11 students who wish to pursue questions or concerns outside of the classroom.