News September 2011!
Dame Alice Owen's School is enrolled on the Prince's Teaching Institute (PTI) English Programme and in July 2011, successfully met the assessment criteria to be awarded this mark (valid until August 2014), having:
- Increased challenge within the curriculum
- Further enthused pupils with activities beyond the curriculum
- Developed staff's own specialist subject knowledge
- Developed subject-based links outside school
Congratulations to Mrs A Fisher and her Department for obtaining this award and having the opportunity to meet Prince Charles at the Schools Programme Day in July 2011. Photographs copyright Benjamin Ealovega.
Mrs A Fisher, Head of Department (left) meets Prince Charles at the PTI Schools Programme Day in July 2011.
One of the lectures at the PTI Schools Programme Day in July 2011.
Overview of our English Department
Eleven dedicated and talented teachers make up our English department. They hail from a variety of backgrounds and interests, and will gladly tell you how rewarding and exciting it is to work with the students at Dame Alice Owen’s.
Moreover, students will freely tell any visitors to the school how much they enjoy their English lessons and respect their teachers. The teachers bring passion and energy to the subject, and the English office will often be a place of lively debate about literature and the arts.
Our department is lucky enough to have co-ordinators of Key Stage 3, Key Stages 4 and Key Stage 5, but the team works collaboratively to share ideas, contemporary material and dynamic teaching methods.
So what is English?
Pupils will have been taught “Literacy” as a discrete subject at primary school. English, however, is a broader subject than “Literacy”. The development of your literacy skills is a significant portion of the English curriculum; however, we aim to expand:
• An appreciation and understanding of the English language
• A love of literature (poetry, plays and novels)
• Communication skills (both speaking and listening)
• Reading comprehension
• Technical Accuracy (spelling, punctuation and grammar)
• Writing skills (creative, letter, empathetic, argument, persuasion and so on)
Key Stage 3
The first year at Owen’s is exciting, enjoyable and varied, which is much like the English curriculum. Pupils are taught English 3 periods a week. At least half a lesson per week is spent at the library where they carry out a variety of different activities (such as research, presentations, private reading, shared reading). Pupils will study a number of different units throughout the year such as a Transition Unit, Myths and Legends, a Novel, Poetry Anthology and a Play.
The second year at Owen’s will be just as exciting, enjoyable and varied as Year 7. Pupils will develop and expand upon the skills they have already started to learn. They will study a number of different units throughout the year designed to encourage an appreciation of both the English Language and the wealth of literature available. The main units of study are: Ballads, a Novel, Romeo and Juliet, Coram Boy (Play).
Pupils will now develop and expand upon those skills they in preparation for GCSE. With the abolition of the SATs, the English Department is very keen to provide a rich and engaging curriculum. They will begin to develop some of the key skills required for GCSE and experience challenging and interesting texts. They study a number of different units throughout the year. The main units of study are: Horror Writing, Macbeth, a Novel (such as To Kill a Mockingbird), Poetry of Love, Loss and Longing.
Key Stage 4
English is one of the most important subjects and it is more than a means to an end. English can broaden your outlook and introduce you to many new areas, not just in literature, but in public speaking and presentation. English is about creative thinking and then being able to articulate successfully and translate those ideas into an understandable form.
In Years 10 and 11 pupils embark on two GCSEs – GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature. We follow AQA Specification B. The Literature course is designed to foster a love of reading and to develop analytical and evaluative skills. The course is assessed by a final examination and several controlled assignments. We study a range of interesting set texts, including: “The Merchant of Venice”, “Lord of the Flies”, and “Pre-1900 War Poetry”. The Language course helps pupils to develop their communication skills in writing and speaking and to enhance reading and listening skills in preparation for entering further education or the world of work. The course is assessed by a final examination and several controlled assignments. We study a range of interesting units: creative writing, group discussions, individual talks, media, poetry from other cultures.
Key Stage 5
English Literature is a very popular subject choice at A Level. We follow English Literature AQA Specification B which offers the pupils a broad, engaging and challenging passage through the study of English Literature. We have a team of excellent teachers who deliver the course.
During the AS course we study Hardy, Austen, McEwan and Auden for “Aspects of Narrative” and Shakespeare and Miller for “Aspects of Tragedy”. During the A2 course we study a range of texts which are dependent on teacher expertise. We offer both Gothic and Pastoral Units and study a range of texts for the coursework such as “A Streetcar Named Desire”, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “Suddenly Last Summer”. Pupils are encouraged to read widely and independently throughout the two years.
The course is rigorous and challenging; pupils will be expected to write essays or reports every week. Pupils are expected to tackle the course with enthusiasm and dedication. A passion for reading, debate and discussion is vital.
Is that all?
No, that is not all we have to offer! There are always various events and competitions running throughout the year. We enter pupils for creative writing and poetry competitions, such as Foyle’s Poetry Competition (Note! William Foyle 1885—1963, who founded Foyles Bookshops was an Old Owenian - you can read about his life in the Old Owenians Newsletter, June 2011). Every year we have a prestigious RF Cholmeney Poetry Competition where each teaching group puts forward two of their best poetry readers to take part in the poetry finals. In Year 9, pupils take part in “Newspaper Day” where they create a newspaper in a day in small groups. The day is exciting, interesting and very demanding! Press conferences are held around the school by different departments. In Year 12 we have an annual Reading Day where A-level pupils have the chance to meet an author and discuss novels, poetry and plays. Additionally, we endeavour to organise trips to the theatre and to workshops whenever anything of relevance is available.
Mrs A Fisher (Head of English)
Further information for current parents and students can be found on the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). Log-in via the link above, click on Departments, then English. Parents are reminded that they share log-in and password details with their child.
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