- ENGLISH Language and Literature
- 50% grade A* or A in the recent English Language and English Literature A Levels.
- 57% grade A* and A in the recent English GCSEs.
- 73% grade B and above in the recent English Literature GCSEs.
- Successful, lively and innovative department.
- Out-of-school visits to theatres, such as The Globe in London and Newcastle's Theatre Royal.
- Visits to places of interest, such as Wordsworth's houses in the Lake District.
- Popular Reading Clubs for older and younger girls.
Our curriculum is designed to help every pupil to develop her life-skills of reading, writing and speaking and listening to the best of her ability, whilst instilling in her a love and understanding of literature. To do this, the staff in the Department work closely together to ensure that there are a wide variety of texts and teaching strategies offered.
Girls have opportunities to visit the Globe Theatre in London, to see performances and to particpate in tours and drama workshops, and to go to the Theatre Royal whenever the RSC are in Newcastle. Recent RSC productions include Romeo and Juliet and Antony and Cleopatra, plays that are directly relevant to the "Love Through the Ages" topic studied at A Level. Pupils are also taken on trips to familiarise them with the background of English authors. For example, Upper Four visit Wordsworth's two homes in the Lake District, and have a guided lecture tour along the Coffin Walk, which links both sites.
In Upper Three and Lower Four, pupils study a Shakespeare play that may complement a visit to the Globe Theatre. Girls also enjoy the opportunity to write their own autobiography and to undertake a range of other creative, discursive and expository writing activities. They study such engaging contemporary fiction as David Almond's Skellig, John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and Frank Cottrell Boyce's Millions:The Play. Work on these texts typically combines literary analysis with creative opportunities for group work and role play, independent, ICT-based research into such important contexts as the Second World War, and engagement with stimulating film version of the books.
All pupils sit for both Literature and Language at GCSE and they begin studying their set texts in Upper Four. We follow the AQA syllabus, which encompasses written and Speaking and Listening controlled assessment coursework and a range of examination papers. In English Language for example, girls might typically have the chance to write an opinion piece for a newspaper, a film review, or the 'voiceover' script for a documentary subject of their choice. They also research and write up a Spoken Language Study in which they might reflect on their own idiolect or investigate a type of public talk, such as the rhetoric of political speeches. Speaking and Listening are examined as an integral part of English Language coursework and girls are assessed in three aspects of these skills: Presenting; Discussing and Listening; and Role playing.
In GCSE English Literature,girls study the modern play, An Inspector Calls, and have the opportunity to explore cultures outside the United Kingdom, by working on John Steinbeck's novel, Of Mice and Men. It is compulsory for girls to write a major coursework essay that examines the signficance of a Shakespeare play, typically Macbeth or Romeo and Juliet, and another classic text from the English Literary Heritage.
A particularly appealing feature of the AQA GCSE in English Literature is its online Poetry Anthology, called The Moon on the Tides. Girls have the opportunity to engage with poems which encompass such topics as "Character and Voice", or "Relationships", through a range of stimulating online activities which fully integrate the teaching of poetry with ICT.
At AS and A level, the Department has also chosen the AQA syllabus. AS Level students study Victorian Literature, focusing on the poetry of Thomas Hardy and a choice of such compelling texts as Ibsen's "A Doll's House", Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre" and Robert Louis Stevenson's "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde". The exam focuses on Hardy's poetry and the analysis of unseen Victorian prose texts, whilst the coursework component of the AS Level involves the writing of traditional literary criticism on prose and drama. There is also the attractive option of producing a piece of creative, transformational writing, such as Mr Rochester's version of events in "Jane Eyre"!
The A2 course topic is "Love Through the Ages". Girls are encouraged to read widely around this topic, before writing an Extended Essay and Shakespeare Study. This major piece of coursework involves the comparison of a Shakespeare play, such as Othello, with two other substantial texts that share the common theme of "Love Through the Ages", such as the novels of Ian McEwan or Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire". Girls are encouraged to show iniative by choosing some of the texts they write about in their Extended Essay.
The final A2 exam paper is based on the analysis of unseen poems and extracts from prose and drama. It tests girls' ability to compare and contrast a wide range of texts about "Love Through the Ages", by demonstrating their skills of formal literary analysis as well as their understanding of the enduring literary tradition of writing about "Love Through the Ages".
The Department ensures that candidates are prepared to the highest degree for their examinations, so that all achieve their potential. We expect to get a large number of A*, A and B grades at GCSE, AS and A Levels. However, we also aim to equip all our students with the reading, writing and speaking and listening skills that they need for success in the world of work. Above all, we hope to inspire in them a lifelong love of literature and a life-enhancing enjoyment of all forms of literary creativity.