English Update

 Published 27 February 2024

The English Faculty are incredibly proud of the range of opportunities we are able to provide for students, both in lessons and beyond the classroom. So far this year, we have particularly focused on integrating technology into lessons – Chromebooks in Years 7-9 and students’ own devices in Year 12.  We have been impressed by students’ enthusiasm for these and their determination to ensure they are being used to enhance their learning. Students across all years seem to appreciate well-organised Google Classrooms and the increased independence that comes from being able to access resources at their own pace, both in lessons and at home.

For the past few years, we have made efforts to ensure our curriculum is diverse and inclusive, so students can see literature both as a ‘window’ and a ‘mirror’. Good stories, whatever their form, should allow us to see other people’s experiences and lives, but should also allow us to reflect our own understanding of the world around us.  As a faculty, this year we have been continuing to integrate short stories from the English and Media Centre’s ‘Diverse Shorts’ collection into our lessons across the school, in addition to teaching the ‘Worlds and Lives’ Cluster to some students in Year 10. In both cases, we have been impressed by how students have engaged and enjoyed the stories and texts.

Once again, there have been lots of opportunities for students beyond lessons. The touring theatre company ‘Box Clever’ has visited the school twice this year, performing and leading workshops on ‘A Christmas Carol’ for Year 8 and ‘Macbeth’ for Year 11.  They will come in twice more this term, performing ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for Year 9 and ‘Macbeth’ for Year 10.  We took the whole of Year 11 to Stratford-Upon-Avon to see ‘Macbeth’ at the RSC in September. Some of them also went to ‘Poetry Live!’ in Oxford last month – students in Evers and Patterson will do the same in Reading later this month.  We brought you news in the last issue of the Year 10 trip to OUP and the Bodleian Library. Some Sixth Form English Language students spent a day in London in October at the British Library and Dr Johnson’s House, and others went to a workshop at the Globe in November to support their English Literature studies.

Our Patron of Reading – Peter Murray – has visited the school twice so far this year. He has spoken to students in Year 8 about his new short story collection ‘The Darker Side of Wight’ and to Year 9 students about his World War One-inspired novel ‘Poppy Warrior’. He will visit the school again in March when we celebrate World Book Day.

Whilst impossible to measure, we are confident that these experiences bring so much to students’ learning and memories of school – these are the things that stick in our minds many years and decades later! It is because we recognise their value that so many members of staff give up their time to make these opportunities possible. If you have a child studying ‘An Inspector Calls’ in Year 10, you will already know that we have plans to take that year group to see the play in Southampton in January 2025.