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Overview of our English Department

Ten dedicated and talented teachers make up our libraryEnglish department. They hail from a variety of backgrounds and interests, and will gladly tell you how rewarding and exciting it is to work with the students at Dame Alice Owen’s.

Moreover, students will freely tell any visitors to the school how much they enjoy their English lessons and respect their teachers. The teachers bring passion and energy to the subject, and the English office will often be a place of lively debate about literature and the arts.

Our department is lucky enough to have co-ordinators of Key Stage 3, Key Stages 4 and Key Stage 5, but the team works collaboratively to share ideas, contemporary material and dynamic teaching methods.

So what is English?

Pupils will have been taught “Literacy” as a discrete subject at primary school. English, however, is a broader subject than “Literacy”. The development of your literacy skills is a significant portion of the English curriculum; however, we aim to expand:

  • An appreciation and understanding of the English language
  • A love of literature (poetry, plays and novels)
  • Communication skills (both speaking and listening)
  • Reading comprehension
  • Technical Accuracy (spelling, punctuation and grammar)
  • Writing skills (creative, letter, empathetic, argument, persuasion and so on)

Key Stage 3

Year 7

The first year at Owen’s is exciting, enjoyable and varied, which is much like the English curriculum. Pupils are taught English 3 periods a week. At least one lesson per fortnight is spent at the library where they carry out a variety of different activities (such as research, presentations, private reading, shared reading). Pupils will study a number of different units throughout the year such as autobiography, myths and legends, a novel, poetry anthology and Much Ado About Nothing.

Year 8

The second year at Owen’s will be just as exciting, enjoyable and varied as Year 7. Pupils will develop and expand upon the skills they have already started to learn. They will study a number of different units throughout the year designed to encourage an appreciation of both the English Language and the wealth of literature available. The main units of study are: ballads, a novel, Romeo and Juliet and detective fiction

Year 9

Pupils will now develop and expand upon the skills they require in preparation for GCSE. Students will begin to develop some of the key skills required for GCSE and experience challenging and interesting texts. They study a number of different units throughout the year. The main units of study are: Gothic writing, Macbeth, A Christmas Carol and conflict poetry.

Key Stage 4

English is one of the most important subjects and it is more than a means to an end. English can broaden your outlook and introduce you to many new areas, not just in literature, but in public speaking and presentation. English is about creative thinking and then being able to articulate successfully and translate those ideas into an understandable form.

In Years 10 and 11 pupils embark on two GCSEs: GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature. The examination board we use is OCR. The Literature course is designed to foster a love of reading and to develop analytical and evaluative skills. The course is assessed by final examination. We study a range of interesting set texts, including: “The Merchant of Venice”, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde”, “An Inspector Calls”, and “Conflict Poetry”. The Language course helps pupils to develop their communication skills in writing and speaking and to enhance reading and listening skills in preparation for entering further education or the world of work. The course is assessed by final examination. We study two units: “Communicating Information and Ideas” and “Exploring Effects and Impacts”.

Key Stage 5

English Literature is a very popular subject choice at A Level. We follow the OCR English Literature specification which offers the pupils a broad, engaging and challenging passage through the study of English Literature. We have a team of excellent teachers who deliver the course.

During the A-level course we study a range of texts. We explore American Literature through “The Great Gatsby” and “The Age of Innocence”, poetry and plays through “The Merchant’s Tale” and “The Duchess of Malfi”, Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus”, and a range of texts for coursework including “A Streetcar Named Desire” and’ “Birthday Letters” by Ted Hughes. Pupils are encouraged to read widely and independently throughout the two years.

The course is rigorous and challenging; pupils will be expected to write essays or reports every week. Pupils are expected to tackle the course with enthusiasm and dedication. A passion for reading, debate and discussion is vital.

Mr A Jones (Head of English)