In the English Department, we aspire not only to instil in our pupils a practical grasp of the language and a familiarity with our literature but to nurture in them a lifelong interest in reading and writing.
We achieve this by providing a lively, challenging experience in the classroom, developing to the full their creative and analytical skills.
Up to GCSE all pupils are encouraged to write across all genres and to learn how to draft, edit, improve and present their work to the highest standard.
They develop a personal response to language and literature through reading and studying texts in depth, enhancing their understanding of the role of context in creative writing and gaining a sensitivity to the techniques employed by a wide range of authors and poets.
In most lessons, pupils are required to make an active contribution by participating in debate, drama, role-play or other forms of discussion and presentation. This creates a dynamic and stimulating atmosphere in the classroom, making learning a positive pleasure.
We adhere to the specifications of the OCR GCSE course. Pupils in years Middle 5 and Upper 5 follow courses in English Language and English Literature and receive two qualifications. Both courses are assessed solely by examination in the summer of Upper 5.
The English Language course is assessed through two examination papers in which pupils analyse and evaluate fiction and non-fiction texts besides producing their own creative and argumentative or informative writing. This course also includes a Speaking and Listening element which is assessed in the classroom.
As part of the English Literature course, pupils study four texts: a 20th century play or novel, a 19th century novel, a short anthology of thematically-linked poetry and a play by Shakespeare. Pupils’ understanding and analysis of these texts in assessed in two exam papers, again taken at the end of Upper 5.
We currently follow the OCR English Literature A-Level specification.
We would usually expect those choosing English Literature to gain A grades or better in both English Language and English Literature at GCSE. The course has three assessed elements: A coursework portfolio worth 20%; an examination paper on Shakespeare and pre-1900 poetry and drama worth 40%; and a synoptic examination, focused on a particular theme, genre or time period (for example, Gothic Literature or Women in Literature) worth 40%. Both exams are taken at the end of U6.
The coursework portfolio involves three texts chosen by the teacher and linked thematically. In Task 1 of the coursework, the pupil will write about 1000 words on a close reading of an extract or poem, while Task 2 consists of a comparative study of the other two texts.
Exam 1 - “Drama and Poetry pre-1900” The texts currently available for study for the “Drama and Poetry pre- 1900”exam are as follows:
- One Shakespeare play: Coriolanus, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, Richard III, The Tempest or Twelfth Night.
- One pre-1900 drama text: Christopher Marlowe: Edward II; John Webster: The Duchess of Malfi; Oliver Goldsmith: She Stoops to Conquer; Henrik Ibsen: A Doll’s House; or Oscar Wilde: An Ideal Husband.
- One pre-1900 poetry text: Geoffrey Chaucer: The Merchant’s Prologue and Tale; John Milton: Paradise Lost Books, 9 & 10; Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Selected Poems; Alfred, Lord Tennyson: Maud; or Christina Rossetti: Selected Poems.
Exam Two - “Comparative and Contextual study” The topics for the “Comparative and Contextual study” exam are currently as follows:
- American Literature 1880–1940; The Gothic; Dystopia; Women in Literature; The Immigrant Experience