English & Media
"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader"
The English and Media Studies Department St George's constantly strives to offer high quality teaching within a systematic approach to resource-rich schemes of work and an ethos of professional commitment, where pupils are inspired to be passionately interested in learning about English and achieving better.
In Media Studies we endeavour to make pupils more aware of the increasing role of the media in today's society.
We consistently achieve outstanding results, way above the national average, at both GCSE and A-Level. We believe that every student has the capacity to do well at English and encourage students to be keen readers, creative writers and insightful analysts.
The topics for year 7 and 8 are designed to be engaging but also stretching. We have revamped them in recent years to make sure that they are in line with the harder GCSEs so students will leave key stage 3 already familiar with the skills and types of texts they will see at GCSE.
Students start the year with an autobiographical writing project. Not only does this allow the students to introduce themselves in detail, but it lays the groundwork of accurate and ambitious writing. We then move onto a project called ‘Dickensian London’ where students read a range of challenging 19th century texts including the majority of the GCSE level text ‘A Christmas Carol’. In the spring term, students start with a novel study. We have a wide range of challenging and engaging class sets, ranging from Martyn Pig to Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Following this is a persuasive writing and speaking project, honing the skills required in the GCSE Language paper 2 exam. Romeo and Juliet is the subject of the first half term of summer which includes an in school performance from a troupe of actors. The final term is spent preparing for a GCSE style assessment followed by a short poetry scheme of work to finish off.
Students start with reading the Sherlock Holmes ‘The Speckled Band’ getting them used to 19th century fiction writing. Students then move onto a Science Fiction topic which will help to develop their own creative writing. In spring, students will study an old GCSE poetry cluster called Poetry from Other Cultures and Traditions. The poems are accessible yet challenging and students will have to analyse and compare them to a GCSE level standard. Students then read the eternally popular ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck. For many years this was taught at GCSE and will help push students to look at themes, context and characterisation. The summer starts with reading another challenging yet engaging text, Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. As in year 7, the year ends with a GCSE style assessment followed by an opinion writing scheme of work.
KS4 now starts in year 9 to make sure that the students are very well prepared for their GCSEs. All students will be entered for both English Language and English Literature and so will receive two grades for English. Both subjects have two exams. The exams are difficult but easy to predict. There are always the same questions in the English Language exams so students can prepare well for them by completing past papers and reading lots of source material. The hardest thing about the language exam is the timing so students should practise a lot of timed questions at home. The literature exam involves studying three full texts and a number of poems. Students must know the texts very well and also learn quotes since all the exams are closed book.
For the whole first term, year 9 students study the skills they will need for the English Language papers 1 and 2. They learn how to read different types of fiction and non-fiction texts and begin to analyse how the writers use language and structure to achieve their purpose and reach their audience. They will also work on creative writing and opinion writing in their first term. In the spring term we will read the excellent ‘A View from the Bridge’ by Arthur Miller. This used to be on the GCSE specification so is a challenging text and will help the students practise how to approach modern drama texts which they will have to in the real GCSE. Spring finishes with an opinion writing scheme of work which will also use 19th century texts. In the summer students will look at poetry again, including some of the poems that will be seen in the GCSE exam. The final, short scheme of work will involve reading Gothic literature extracts.
Students will start by studying the GCSE examined text, An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley. Students will be assessed by answering model GCSE questions that will test knowledge of characters, themes, context and author’s craft. As with every other literature text, students will have to learn quotes since they will not be allowed the text in the exam. Students will then move onto Language Paper 2 practice, analysing non-fiction texts and writing to argue, persuade and explain. In spring, students will move onto Language Paper 1 practice, analysing fiction texts and writing creatively. For the summer term, students will study Macbeth which is another literature examined text.
The year starts with students reading Jekyll and Hyde (an examined literature text). This is a short but complex 19th century novel. The language can be difficult but the themes and characters are engaging. Students will have to learn quotes. In the second half of term, students will practice Language paper 1 and 2 skills. In spring, students will study the final literature text – the conflict poetry anthology. This involves the study of 12 poems and unseen poetry. Like all other literature texts, students will have to learn quotes and will tested on their ability to analyse author’s craft, context and themes. The rest of the year will be dedicated to revision of language skills and literature tests, ready for the exams in late May / early June.
English Literature is offered as an option at A-Level. It is a difficult A level but is hugely well respected by top universities since it is so challenging. Students will be required to read a range of texts and will be assessed by coursework and exams. It is imperative that students who choose to take up English Literature A level are avid readers and can write fluently and coherently. We require students to have a grade 6 in both GCSE Language and Literature.
Students will study four texts which will all be examined. They will take the AS exam at the end of the year which does not involve coursework. There are two exams, both focussing on engaging texts through the lens of tragedy. The class will be split between two teachers (Mr Morgan and Mr Bohan). In the autumn term, students will study Othello with Mr Bohan and A selection of John Keats’s longer poetry with Mr Morgan. In the second term, students will study the play Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller with Mr Bohan and the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald with Mr Morgan.
Students who choose to move onto the full A-Level will study three texts through the lens of ‘Political and Social Protest Writing’ for the exam and produce two coursework essays. The coursework essays are allowed to be on any books the students have read but they must be examined through ideas presented in a critical anthology. They will be given guidance and the option of reading poetry by W.H. Auden and The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter which will be taught by Mr Morgan. The texts they will study for the exam will be The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen and Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake. The AS mark does not count towards the A level so students who carry on to A level will also be examined on the year 12 texts, Othello, Death of a Salesman and The Keats poetry. There will be class time given over to revision of these texts.
Competence in literacy is essential if all students are to achieve their full potential in every subject they study. This underpins the school aim of 'Raising Achievement'.
It is the mutual benefit of all students, and all subjects, if literacy skills are explicitly taught as part of the student's experience of learning at our school.
At St. George’s we want to ensure that every pupil is a 'Literate Pupil'. We aim for all pupils to be able to:
- read and write with confidence, fluency and understanding, orchestrating a range of independent strategies to self-monitor and correct.
- have an interest in books and read for enjoyment.
- have an interest in words, their meanings; developing a growing vocabulary in spoken and written forms.
- understand a range of text types and genres; be able to write in a variety of styles and forms appropriate to different situations.
- be developing the powers of imagination, inventiveness and critical awareness.
- have a suitable technical vocabulary to articulate their responses.
This school strongly believes that literacy competence, and thus higher achievement, can only be achieved if all subjects work together to explicitly teach literacy skills.
To support and further the literacy of our pupils, we also provide a broad and rich range of activities and opportunities:
- Drop Everything and Read: KS3 students spend one lesson a week reading a novel aloud with their class.
- Weekly reading in tutor time.
- Weekly reading of current affair articles in tutor time.
- Book club every Wednesday lunchtime.
- The Student View journalism scheme for year 10 students.
- National and internal writing competitions, with prizes awarded.
- The opportunity to write and share their own blog posts on the school blog, (accessible from the school website’s homepage).
- A wide and regularly updated variety of resources at the school library.
Information For Parents To Encourage Reading
At St. George’s we want to encourage all pupils to improve their literacy through reading. In tutor times, pupils are encouraged to read for enjoyment, however we would also like to inspire pupils to read outside of school as well.
Reading really is a skill for life: books give pleasure, solace, information and opportunity! Yes, opportunity - young people with good reading skills have access to the world of words, access to the whole curriculum and so many more choices as they move into adult life.
How do children get these reading skills? By reading! And the more that children enjoy reading, the more they will want to read. The more they read, the more their minds and imaginations will grow
and their vocabulary develop. Soon they will have the stamina to read the long and sometimes difficult texts they will come across in all areas of life.
Here are some tips for encouraging reading in your home:
- Ensure that your children see you reading. It doesn't matter if it's the newspaper, a cookery book, a romantic novel, a detective mystery, short stories, a computer manual... anything! Encourage children to join in - ask a child to read out a recipe for you as you cook, or the TV listings when you are watching TV.
- Give, and encourage others to give, books and book tokens as presents.
- Encourage children to carry a book at all times - do this yourself too!
- Read with your children - many books are enjoyed by adults and young people alike - the Harry Potter books, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon to mention just a couple. It's great to read books you can all talk about, but make the talk light-hearted, not testing and over-questioning.
- Your child can join your local library for free. You'll also be able to get other reading recommendations for your child as well as advice on how you can help your child read for pleasure.
- Go to libraries or bookshops when authors are visiting. Children love meeting their favourite writers!
- Don't panic if your child reads the same book over and over again – they may spot elements of the novel that they didn’t before!
- However much you want to, don't nag when you don't like the books they choose - all reading is to be celebrated!
- Encourage your children and their friends to swap books with each other. This will encourage them to talk and think about the books they are reading.
The main message is MAKE IT FUN!