The English Department relishes the responsibility for inspiring all Leys pupils with its lively, varied and passionate approach to the study of literature and language – with plenty of opportunity to go beyond the curriculum.
The department is fortunate to be based in the Queen's Building, at the heart of the school, and is always buzzing with enthusiastic debate and thoughtful engagement. Newly-refurbished for 2015 is a dedicated critical library for Sixth Form pupils – the Crow’s Nest on the top floor. Pupils from all years are encouraged to spend time in the Snug which houses recommended, and regularly updated, fiction in a comfortable reading space, supplementing a close relationship with the School Library. Ipads are integrated into English classrooms, facilitating independent research; the drafting and redrafting of coursework; electronic text annotation; and student presentations.
Our subject specialists are all experienced teachers with diverse interests and an infectious enthusiasm for all areas of the subject: reading, writing and speaking and listening. We nourish our students with a range of literature; we foster intellectual debate and inquiry; and we introduce critical thinking and an ability to analyse language in depth from Year 7 upwards. We are able to focus on thinking and writing creatively and to develop the imagination of all the pupils – for coursework, for pleasure and for publication.
Years 7 - 9
Pupils study a range of texts – both fiction and non-fiction – in order to inspire an early interest and to equip them with the skills they need for future study in the subject. Pupils master descriptive writing techniques and analyse a class novel and a play – with Shakespeare, poetry and technical skills such as punctuation and paragraphs thrown in for good measure! Year 8 pupils produce three pieces of coursework that contribute to their end of year exam mark. Poetry reading in the Grantchester Meadows is a post-exam summer favourite.
By Year 9, pupils are expected to be critical thinkers, familiar with literary techniques and able to interpret authorial intentions and nuances of language adopted for different writing styles. A class novel, Shakespeare play and plenty of poetry also count as staple literary food for this year group. Coursework essays range from creative writing to comparative poetry analysis, and count towards the end of year exam. The annual Arras trip is also a highlight.
In Years 10 and 11, pupils follow the Edexcel IGCSE courses in both English Language and English Literature. The combination of written and spoken coursework tasks, taught alongside exam texts such as 'Of Mice and Men' and 'Romeo and Juliet', works well. Language exam texts and tasks, and requisite interpretative techniques, meet the needs of our pupils very successfully, allowing them to shine.
Pupils are offered a whole range of opportunities to develop writing and thinking skills considerably, so that in future life they will be able to write in different ways according to what is required at A Level, in the workplace or elsewhere. Pupils are also expected to read a variety of interesting and demanding literature (poetry, prose and drama, both older and more recent) and other types of text (such as media and non-fiction, as well as writing from different cultures). Consequently, pupils will gain a sophisticated sense of how authors use words effectively and be inspired to express themselves more imaginatively.
Pupils will be working towards two separate IGCSEs in English Language and English Literature.
There will be four pieces of coursework, including an opportunity to write creatively as well as producing analytical work on literary texts. They will succeed by communicating, appreciating the written word and understanding that the ability to use English well in both spoken and written forms is crucial to virtually any future study or career.
- Written coursework (two assignments, 40% of final grade): personal and imaginative writing and one analytical essay exploring a topic of their choice in two texts with a commentary.
- Exam (60%): responses to non-fiction / media pieces; transactional writing, e.g. article or speech.
- Written coursework (two assignments, 40% of final grade): one piece on modern drama; one piece on a text from the literary heritage set list.
- Exam (60%): written responses on poetry and prose set texts.
A Level (OCR)
During the two years, pupils will work with two teachers at a time, thus ensuring a great variety in approach and teaching style. The class sets are small, allowing plenty of time for discussion. We study a whole range of literature, of different styles and genres, in the context of when and where it was written. Written and oral skills will also be developed, standing pupils in very good stead in whatever they do in the future.
The A Level is formed of two papers. The first examines Drama and Poetry and the second is based on a close reading of an unseen text. This will account for 80% of the final marks.
Two coursework essays will be written on modern texts: one close textual analysis essay of 1000 words on one text; and one comparative essay of 2000 words on two texts. We will study three post-1900 texts; one of these will be post-2000. This will account for 20% of the marks.