Head of Department: Mrs S Charisse
Our aim is to enable every student to fulfil his or her potential in English, acquiring the skills to become a fluent and discerning reader, a confident writer, an effective speaker and listener and a lifelong learner. In order to achieve this it is essential that a positive, disciplined and stimulating environment is created, and that each student's success is celebrated. As English teachers we have a special responsibility, since progression in English is vital to achievement in nearly all areas. We consider ourselves privileged to have the opportunity to share our love of English language and literature with young people, and we believe it is this enthusiasm which is the most important factor in motivating and inspiring students.
The Department's teaching is based on the programmes of study of the National Curriculum for English and the National Curriculum Attainment Targets for English. From the beginning of Year 7 great emphasis is placed on the value of extensive reading to stimulate imagination, an awareness of differing styles and a wide vocabulary. Students in Years 7 and 8 have a weekly Library period; there is a structured Reading Record which is used to monitor their progress. Considerable importance is attached to the acquisition of spelling, punctuation and paragraphing skills and students are expected to present their work neatly and in clearly legible handwriting. They are also encouraged to make use of and develop their IT skills, both in the production of homework and in lessons; classes often use the IT suite for longer tasks over a period of several weeks, for example writing their autobiography with "Boy" by Roald Dahl as a model.
Class reading of a whole novel, play or collection of short stories is a key part of the work of the Department, as we feel it offers an enjoyable shared experience and enables students to develop a range of skills, from oral discussion of ideas to formal written literary criticism. The department believes that literature is an essential part of language and that it has a vital role to play in the spiritual and moral growth of the child. A wide range of types of texts is made available to students, in accordance with the Framework for English.
The ability to write with clarity and accuracy is paramount, but we must also endeavour to ensure that students enjoy the writing process. They are encouraged to acquire new vocabulary and experiment with different styles. Writing competitions are held within the school and students' work is entered for local and national competitions, in which we have had some success.
We believe that it is a vital part of our role as English teachers to do all we can to help students develop into articulate young people, and we see evidence of the success of this policy when they are complimented, as they often are, on their fluency and ease of manner by visitors to the school. As with reading and writing, variety of opportunity is a crucial element. In order for students to develop confidence and competence in Speaking and Listening they need to be exposed to a range of situations, audiences and activities. Whole and small group discussions, pair and individual activities are used in conjunction with Reading and Writing assignments so that Speaking and Listening is perceived as an integral part of English lessons.
The progress of individuals is monitored by means of Gapadol and diagnostic spelling test at the beginning of the academic year and by termly assessments in the areas of Speaking and Listening, Reading and Writing. Self and peer assessment is encouraged and targets for improvement frequently set. In the lower school, schemes of work are designed to develop students' skills in all areas required by the AQA syllabus for English and Literature, which is followed in years 10 and 11. As a result of this, by the end of year 9 students are able to attempt a GCSE Foundation English paper as well as a GCSE Literature coursework-type essay.
Trips and Visits
Students are taken to see theatrical productions of texts being studied whenever possible. This term, year 8 students will be going to see a production of "Private Peaceful" as the culmination of their study of the novel. Similarly, year 7 students will visit the Nuffield Theatre in December to see "A Christmas Carol" after reading Dickins' classic. Students who are studying "To Kill a Mockingbird" as part of their GCSE Literature course have the opportunity to participate in a trip to see a threatrical version next March. We hope to be able to arrange a visit by the "Rain or Shine" theatre company as part of the year 9 English course.
Productions and Competitions
- There is a Year 7 Club run by Year 11 students which produces a play at Christmas. Recent productions include “Stand and Deliver", “Robin Hood" and "The Wizard of Oz".
- A Junior Drama Club meets during the lunch hour and produces a Christmas play for students at St. Winifred’s School every year
- A musical is performed at the end of the Spring Term each year. Students from all years are encouraged to participate and often a third of the school is involved. Recent productions include “Carousel", “Oklahoma", "The King and I" and "My Fair Lady".
- The Senior Drama Club presents a play in July. Recent productions include “Confusions/The Real Inspector Hound" and "The Government Inspector".
- A Drama competition for Years 7 – 8 is held at the end of the Summer Term. Students across each year are put into mixed ability groups and given one week (with a revised timetable which includes seven Drama lessons) in which to devise and rehearse a play with a given theme. Certificates are awarded for achievement in a number of categories at the final presentation.
- An individual Verse Speaking competition is held in May. Trophies are awarded in Junior and Senior categories.
- An Original Writing competition is held in the Autumn Term. Any style of writing may be entered except poetry. A Poetry Writing competition is held in the Spring Term.
- Students are entered for external competitions e.g. essay writing and poetry writing competitions. Many of our students have their poems published in local collections. One of our students recently won a regional poetry competition.
- As part of our Gifted and Talented programme, Year 8 students this year participated in the Hampshire Reading Challenge.