The overall aim of the English Department is to develop the analytical and creative thinking and writing skills of each pupil, thereby enabling them to express their ideas and views effectively and eloquently. At Key Stage three, pupils have the opportunity to read and study three novels each year as they learn to write essays and a variety of creative pieces in preparation for GCSE. We follow the International GCSE syllabus, in line with the school’s outward looking, inclusive ethos, and in doing so, pupils are exposed to a number of texts from different countries that reflect different cultures, British heritage texts, modern novels and drama, poetry and non-fiction. The two year A-Level course encourages students to make links between time periods, literary genres, and socio-historical moments of importance. Students also have the opportunity to write an extended 2,500 word essay that compares two novels of their choice and is excellent preparation for the level of writing that will be required of them at university level.
Pupils also have the chance to participate in public speaking activities through a lunch time club, the Rotary Youth Speaks competition, Oxford Union Debating and by addressing the whole school during assemblies from time to time throughout the academic year. The ability to speak in a public forum is a skill that is essential for all individuals who wish to make their mark in life. Any pupil who wishes to develop their abilities to address others is welcome.
Throughout the year, the English Department encourages pupils to take part in a wide variety of competitions, both written and spoken. We have had recent successes with our senior public speaking team, the Rotary Young Writer competition, and The Pitch competition that runs in conjunction with the Carnegie Medal Award.
Ms Hodgson, Head of English, also runs the BLT (Benefits of Lateral Thinking) Club, along with Dr Clayton, Head of Science. This is a weekly lunch time extension club for top achieving pupils in Years 10 and 11. Pupils take the lead each week with presentations and discussions that go beyond the walls of the classroom to the world around us, its events, and our relationship to them. The BLT also goes on trips, targeting events or exhibitions of general interest that pupils are keen to experience. With London so close, this is easy to do. We also venture further afield each year with a university trip. Most recently, we visited St Edmund Hall, Oxford, for sessions about Oxbridge applications and life as an Oxbridge student.