"I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!" Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
The study of English is all about discovery and the pleasure found in reading and pursuing new ideas. It is also a subject which naturally leads to discussion and debate. English Language involves all the techniques and skills needed for lucid, accurate communication and our study of English Literature provides a rich diet of stories, thoughts, feelings, characters, dramas and motives. Our teaching tends to be led by the literature we study: Drama from Shakespeare to Albee, prose from Austen to McEwan, poetry from Donne to Duffy.
We encourage creativity and the enjoyment of literature throughout the School – especially through a range of writing competitions, through our Writers' Ink creative writing group and through talks and workshops by visiting authors, visits to the theatre at Stratford and London and opportunities to write for the School newspapers and magazines.
UIII - UIV (Year 7-9)
According to one UIII girl, English is, "a subject that everyone loves because your imagination jumps." Another adds that it is "a fun subject that lets you go outside the boundaries."
UIII girls explore a variety of drama, poetry and prose from A Midsummer Night's Dream to a modern dramatised version of Beowulf, to contemporary novels. Our commitment to pre-20th century texts extends in LIV and the girls also have the opportunity to write their autobiographies. UIV texts include Romeo and Juliet, and a focus on 20th century prose and poetry and there is an increased focus on the skills and understanding required for confident essay writing. In each of these years, we also focus on the essentials of accurate, well-crafted writing; we encourage all girls to experiment with their creative writing and to read as widely and adventurously as possible.
All girls take IGCSE English Language and GCSEEnglish Literature. The Language course teaches students to analyse and discuss media and non-fiction texts, to write accurate, fluent and lively English for a wide variety of different audiences and situations, and to expand their creativity. In the English Literature course, girls enjoy an exciting range of poetry, prose and drama including Macbeth, classic and contemporary poetry by such poets as Wilfred Owen, Robert Browning, Simon Armitage, Seamus Heaney and Wendy Cope, a classic novel such as Pride and Prejudice and twentieth century prose, like Of Mice and Men. Speaking and listening exercises provide much shared fun and also enable girls to discuss, debate and perform confidently in public.
Always a popular subject at A level, English Literature combines well with many other subjects, builds on skills developed at GCSE and provides fresh challenges. The OCR course is literature-based, and it is much valued by universities because it fosters the skills of lucid, accurate writing and of close analysis and maintains an emphasis on significant texts from the literary canon. Students enjoy the opportunity to research and write on texts of their own choice for the A2 coursework essay. We actively encourage theatre trips and have in recent years enjoyed visits from many writers including poets Carol Ann Duffy, Andrew Motion and Simon Armitage, biographers Richard Holmes, Fiona Maccarthy and Jon Stallworthy, medievalist Kevin Crossley-Holland, and actor Simon Russell-Beale. Sixth Formers also have many opportunities for joining and leading creative writing and reading groups.
"All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel…it all belongs to you." Ernest Hemingway