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English & Media

Faculty Vision

Our Key Aims for Students

We aim to ensure that learning experiences in the Faculty help students to develop the following:

  1. A love of reading, and of exploring media texts, and a thirst for knowledge
  2. A scholarly understanding of language, literature and media texts as readers and as communicators
  3. Cultural awareness and critical literacy
  4. A growth mindset and intellectual bravery

Useful links and resources

Key Stage 3

At Key Stage 3, we aim to give students a strong and shared foundation of key knowledge that will enable them to flourish throughout their study of English. Students are introduced to key figures, movements and periods from literary history, including classical mythology, Shakespeare, Romanticism, the Gothic tradition, prose writing of the 19th century and the work of contemporary writers from around the world. We also devote time to the explicit teaching of grammar and spelling strategies in the context of honing students’ written communication across a range of genres. In Years 7, 8 and 9 students complete Snapshot Tasks that allow us to assess and monitor their developing skills as readers and writers: the focus, however, is on nurturing an informed enthusiasm for language and literature, and not on ‘teaching to the test’ in any narrow sense. Key Stage 3 English also provides students with exposure to aspects of Media Studies, including analysing images and studying film adaptions of texts. The English Department offers a wealth of challenging learning opportunities both within and outside the school curriculum, with the following being just some of the activities and competitions available to our students: the Never Such Innocence Poetry Competition, the Royal Commonwealth Essay competition, and the Year 8 Shakespeare Festival.

Key Stage 4

English in Key Stage 4 builds on the rich learning experiences of Key Stage 3 as students learn to approach language and literature with increasing independence and sophistication. Students will study the following areas as they work towards two Cambridge IGCSEs, one in English Language and one in English Literature:

  • Writing: for a range of different purposes and a variety of different audiences e.g. narrative, descriptive and persuasive writing, and writing in response to arguments put forward in non-fiction texts.
  • Reading: to select key pieces of information and to analyse how writers convey meaning in both non-fiction and fiction texts.
  • Speaking and Listening: termly speaking and listening events see students delivering speeches, telling stories, reciting poems and learning to address a substantial audience.
  • Literature: a variety of modern and pre-20th century poetry, prose and drama texts from around the world, ranging from Shakespeare and the American playwright Arthur Miller to contemporary writers such as Gillian Clarke, the National Poet of Wales from 2008-2016.

Opportunities for learning beyond the classroom include theatre performances, film trips and opportunities to enter a range of local and international competitions.

Key Stage 5: English Literature

Studying English is about learning to read. Many students are attracted to A Level English Literature by a love of language or storytelling; learning to read also means learning to ask searching questions about the culture you live in. What sorts of stories and ideas shape the way we think today? Only by answering this question can we learn to think and act differently.

The course encourages students to read widely, responding both to set texts and to those of their own choosing. Building on the rich diet of literature students enjoy in Key Stages 3 and 4, skills of analysis will be developed and applied to texts from the medieval period to those written in recent years by living authors.

Students follow the revised ‘AQA English Literature A’ specification, studying ‘Love through the Ages’ and literature from ‘Modern Times’ (post 1945), in addition to an independent non-examination assessment. The specification’s ‘historicist approach’ means that the historical contexts that have nurtured literary creativity are seen as particularly important: ‘working from the belief that no text exists in isolation but is the product of the time in which it was produced, Specification A encourages students to explore the relationships that exist between texts and the contexts within which they are written, received and understood.’
As in earlier Key Stages, English at A Level is not confined to the classroom. Students are encouraged to visit the theatre and they also attend lectures or workshops delivered by speakers from leading universities or by professional writers. Off-island opportunities include A level study days in London, which have recently given students the chance to hear Carol Ann Duffy read and discuss some of her work.

Key Stage 5: Media Studies

We live in a time in which the most powerful form of communication, education and social influence are the media. Our perception of the world is profoundly influenced by the various forms of media that we all consume on a daily, or even hourly, basis. In Media Studies, we aim to give our students the tools and skills to decipher a variety of media texts and understand the vast influence that these have on society. The approach we take to this theoretical study is to embed it in a full range of creative, practical elements so that students are able to create, as well as to interpret, their own professional media products.
The Eduqas specification, which we follow, gives students a foundation in practical production work as well as theoretical knowledge. The creative industries are the fastest growing area of the UK economy. Jobs in advertising, architecture, arts and culture, craft, design, fashion, games, music, publishing, technology, television and film can all begin with Media Studies.

Further Reading

Key Stage 3 Reading List
Author Title

Sarah Crossan One

Kevin Brooks The Bunker Diary (Year 9)

Patrick Ness A Monster Calls

Terry Pratchett The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents

Sharon Creech Ruby Holler

Beverley Naidoo The Other Side of the Truth

Melvin Burgess Junk (Year 9)

Anne Fine Flour Babies

Joseph Jacobs English Fairy Tales

Elle Strauss Clockwise

Kimberly James Waterborn

M. U. Riyadad Vermilion Witch

John P. Logsdon & Christopher P. Young Gappy’s Gadgets (Year 9)

Becca C. Smith Riser

Rebecca Clark Deceit (Year 9)

John P. Logsdon & Christopher P. Young Bob the Zombie

A.E. Davis Forks

C. S. Lewis The Last Battle

John L McLaughlin Trash Heap at the End of the World: Haunted Shores

Please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected] should you require further recommendations.

Key Stage 4 English Reading List

Year 10

Author Title

Markus Zusak The Book Thief

Charles Dickens Great Expectations

JD Salinger Catcher in the Rye

Alice Sebold Lovely Bones

Kathryn Stockett The Help

James Joyce Dubliners

Kashuo Ishiguro The Remains of the Day

Monica Ali Brick Lane

Jonathan Safran Foer Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Iam McEwen Enduring Love

Year 11

Author Title

Jane Austin Pride and Prejudice

Jenny Downham Before I Die

L P Hartley The Go Between

Audrey Niffenegger Time Traveller’s Wife

Andrea Ashworth Once in a House on Fire

Henry James The Turn of the Screw

Emma Donaghue Room

Salmon Rushdie Midnight’s Children

Kingsley Amis The Rachel Papers

Zadie Smith White Teeth
A Level English Wider Reading

This list should not be seen as prescriptive or exhaustive. Any reading - if it is carried out thoughtfully and attentively – is valuable for an English student and the most important thing is to read literature that interests and excites you. Below are some suggestions of works of criticism and theory – as well as studies of context - that will help extend and enrich your learning at A Level.

The English Faculty Blog

https://jcgenglishblog.wordpress.com/ 

Works of general interest 

  • Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
  • Terry Eagleton, How to Read a Poem
  • Jonathan Culler, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction
  • Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle, Literature, Criticism and Theory
  • Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle, This Thing Called Literature

Wider reading for all aspects of ‘love through the ages’:

  • Stephen Siddall and Mary Ward (ed.), The Truth About Love Julia Geddes and Helen Ince (ed.), Love Through the Ages

Wider reading for all aspects of ‘modern times’:

  • Steve Padley, Key Concepts in Contemporary Literature
  • Caroline Merz, Post-War Literature: 1945 to the Present Day

Wider reading for all aspects of Gothic literature (NEA)

  • Nick Groom, The Gothic: A Very Short Introduction
  • Sue Chaplin, Gothic Literature

A useful website

  • The website of the Norton Anthology of English Literature contains a wealth of textual extracts, contextual information and introductory critical material on the historical sweep of English literature.