The English Department's aim is to encourage pupils to become successful learners by fostering confident communication skills. The department aims to nurture independent readers, listeners and thinkers, who can articulate their views and interpretations both orally and in their writing. By working sensitively with others, pupils will shape, refine and express their own understanding and views through effective language.
There are two, main interwoven ideas that underpin and guide the teaching of the English Department at all levels.
- Pupils come to a better appreciation of literature through a fuller understanding of language as a personal and cultural medium of communication.
- Pupils come to a greater awareness and understanding of a variety of literary and non-literary genres and their purposes.
The curriculum seeks to explicitly teach these core skills and show how they have been shaped by - and shape - our society and ourselves. In addition, the teaching staff strive to equip pupils with core skills required for further study and employment, and to build self-confidence, a readiness to challenge ideas and an awareness of others.
The English Department places great importance on both what is taught and how it is taught, always seeking to differentiate for pupils’ preferred learning styles. Teachers offer a blend of individual opportunity, small group collaborative tasks and whole class activities designed to challenge and support the pupils’ critical and high order thinking skills, in a way that will benefit them both in examinations and in future learning situations.
A progressive scope and sequence ensures that each stage dovetails into the next, be it from the Middle Years Programme into IGCSE, or from IGCSE into the IB Diploma Programme.
Years 8 & 9
The Middle Years Programme covers a range of global contexts and key concepts across a number of units of work.
Texts covered in Year 8 include Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Michael Morpurgo and William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, along with a selection of international poetry and units on journalism and debating.
In Year 9, the course features R.C. Sherriff’s Journey’s End, a selection of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales and another anthology of poetry with contributions from poets such as William Shakespeare, John Keats and Robert Browning.
Years 10 & 11
Students follow the new Edexcel 9-1 IGCSE Language and Literature courses.
The Literature course includes a rich diet of challenging literary works taken from set text lists of modern prose, drama and a literary heritage text. All students will study Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls in Year 10, whilst teachers will choose which literary heritage text their respective classes will study in Year 11, such as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens or Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. In addition, pupils will study a range poetry from the Edexcel Anthology from poets such as Rudyard Kipling, Louis MacNiece and Imtiaz Dharker. Assessment is currently exclusively through two examination papers at the end of Year 11.
The Language course assesses students’ ability to understand and analyse the conventions of non-fiction texts such as letters, speeches, autobiographies and newspaper articles, taken from the official Edexcel Anthology, and then emulate these features in their own transactional writing. Similarly, students will also explore poetry and extracts from longer prose fiction texts from the anthology, and again seek to emulate the devices used in their own imaginative writing. Again, assessment is currently exclusively through two examination papers at the end of Year 11.
Our one-year Pre-IB students will study the Edexcel 9-1 IGCSE Language course. Assessment is will be through one examination paper and externally-moderated coursework assignments at the end of Year 11.
Years 12 & 13
Students can choose to sit either the English A: Literature or the English A: Language and Literature course.
The Literature course covers a wide-range of exciting and demanding literary texts from various cultures and time periods. This is the course for those who love literature and have an especially perceptive and keen critical eye when it comes to its interpretation. Assessment is through examination as well as written course-work and oral assessments.
The Language and Literature course is similar, although there is more of an emphasis on linguistics, and language as a social and cultural construct. This course allows the department to cater for a broader range of interests and abilities as it involves creative writing and explores a greater range of text types.
We seek to foster a profound appreciation for language, literature and communication within and outwith the classroom environment. Pupils are encouraged to participate in the annual Miss Leveson Bowl and Plate creative writing competition for both poetry and prose; staff assist the Drama Department with their several annual productions; there are trips to the local Byre Theatre in St Andrews to see any productions pertinent to our studies; residential creative writing courses with the Arvon Foundation are organised where possible; there is a history of residential trips to Stratford to work with actors and directors from the Royal Shakespeare Company and watch RSC productions; pupils are encouraged to attend literary lectures at St Andrews University; internationally acclaimed poets and writers are invited into the School for readings and workshops as part of the annual StAnza poetry festival.
Pupils also have the opportunity to develop their appreciation for both the spoken and written word through two after-school clubs run by the department – Debating and Creative Writing.
In the former, the art of considered reasoning is honed by participating in local and national debates. The school’s debating team receives regular expert coaching from members of the St Andrews University Debating Club and St Leonards has been playing host to a growing number of prestigious debating contests.
Our Creative Writing club meets every week to develop their understanding of various linguistic and literary devices and emulate great writers by employing these techniques in their own writing.