What we are all doing in English

As we move into the final term of another academic year, I thought I would give you all an update on what we are all doing in English.

The Alevel students are looking at their second comparative literature text, ‘Dorian Gray’, and examining Wilde’s language and his aesthetic philosophy. This will be compared to Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, another Gothic text, and we will be looking specifically across the theme of the Supernatural.

Our brave year 11s have just begun their GCSEs and are sitting their first English language paper as we speak. There were a few nerves on display but they are well prepared and I have full confidence in their abilities to do well. Only three more to go!

In year 10, we have been looking at a new syllabus: the Cambridge iGCSE for 1st Language English students. This is every bit as demanding as other GCSE courses but allows the students to submit three pieces of coursework instead of sitting one of their examinations which I hope will alleviate a little pressure from their shoulders this time next year.

Our focus in year 9 has been in lifting the reading abilities of the students in the language class; this will help them in a variety of subjects at GCSE where extended reading is a pre-requisite. We have looked at a good range of texts as well as doing a solid amount of narrative and descriptive writing which they will need to continue to work on as they move into their GCSE years.

 Year 8 have just begun a module on Shakespeare. We are looking at ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ and I have been thoroughly impressed by the way in which the students have all engaged with the story. Studying Shakespeare can seem, at a glance, to be old and irrelevant but the fact is that when you strip away some of the language barriers, the stories told by Shakespeare 400 years ago, are the same as the stories we read about or watch today with many of them about murder, revenge, love, jealousy, and misunderstandings.

Year 7 are reading Pullman’s amazing ‘Northern Lights’. This is a challenging text for year 7 but they are doing fantastically well with it as we contemplate Daemons (not a devils, but our souls manifested in the physical form of an animal), monsters, truth, and armoured bears and they are producing some super work designing travel advice brochures to help unwary travellers navigate the North and avoid some of the more hideous creatures Pullman tells us are there as well as getting excited thinking about what animal form their own Daemons would be.

Chris Thomas, Head of English