Head of Department: Mrs C J Henshaw email@example.com
The English Department
English is central to the curriculum at Sevenoaks; every pupil studies English for the duration of their time here, and many proceed to read English at University. Whilst the Department seeks excellence in the delivery of the curriculum we also have a profound belief that the subject should stand at the centre of our pupils’ intellectual and imaginative development. Consequently, we aim to create a culture where it is normal to speak and write with confidence about ideas and to enjoy a wide range of literature.
The English department is a large and dynamic department consisting of twelve full-time and four part-time teachers. Every member of the Department is passionate about their subject and we have a diverse range of expertise in particular areas of Literature. The Department takes seriously the need to engage the especially talented and motivated but also provides support for some pupils through close links with the Learning Support Unit. Many of our pupils come from overseas and the provision of EAL provides effective support for these students. Ultimately, our aim is to make every pupil articulate and highly literate.
Years 7 to 8
In Years 7 to 8, the Department seeks to fulfil the National Curriculum needs and requirements for Key Stage 3. As such, we develop key skills of Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing in a manner that demands increasing sophistication and grammatical accuracy from our pupils. In addition, we have developed schemes of work that go far beyond national prescription. We are aware that English stands at the centre of our pupils’ ability to marshal and express their ideas; we are particularly keen to foster enthusiasm for the subject and thus place a high value on creativity. In Years 7 and 8 we run a guided reading scheme and make extensive use of the library and its staff. In Year 7, there is a Shakespeare Day, in Year 8 all pupils attend a study day at the Globe Theatre.
Year 9 is a continuation of Years 7 and 8 in the sense that we continue to focus on the demands of the National Curriculum. However, this year also marks a transition as we start to focus on the skills that will be needed for Key Stage 4, specifically in terms of formal essay writing and literary analysis. The guided reading scheme remains in place but we are particularly aware of the need to extend the range and ambition of students' reading as they move towards IGCSE and our own literature course. All Year 9 pupils attend a performance of a text specifically linked to a text that they are studying, and participate in a Shakespeare project along with the Drama Department.
Years 10 and 11
Students in Years 10 and 11 study two interwoven courses in English, which result in the award of two separate grades. At Sevenoaks we follow the Edexcel IGCSE course in English Language and pursue our own School Certificate in English Literature.
The literature course is designed as a stimulating and enjoyable exploration of a variety of literary works; it represents a rigorous examination of texts from different genres, traditions, places and periods, with significant emphasis on the students’ ability to respond independently both to content and features of style.
In addition, the course develops skills that prepare students effectively for the IB Diploma in the Sixth Form and for university study. Critical thinking, research skills and a sense of enquiry, as well as a focus on international awareness are some of the important characteristics that inform the way the course is taught, and we encourage the use of a journal as a means to support independent reading.
The course is fully recognised by UCAS and will appear on the formal ‘drop down’ menu alongside GCSE and IGCSE options, as Sevenoaks School Certificate: English Literature.
Students study a range of different literary works, including pre and post-1914 novels and poetry, as well as Shakespeare and non-fiction. There are also texts in translation and a number of ‘elective’ opportunities that allow teachers and students some freedom to explore works in which they have a particular interest.
The mark awarded to students combines 50% final examination and 50% coursework portfolio, comprising analytical essays, creative responses and an oral presentation mark. The final grade awarded will be on the A* - E system. All elements of the course are marked internally and then moderated externally. The external moderator is a former Head of English from a leading UK independent school and Principal Examiner for the IB, with many years of marking experience. A representative sample of examination essays and coursework portfolios from each teacher will be sent and marks scrutinised for fairness and consistency.
In addition, there are a significant number of theatre trips, a creative writing group, a Literary Society and poetry groups for Key Stage 4 pupils.
The Sixth Form
In the Sixth Form, all pupils pursue one of the dynamic, international courses offered by the IB. Pupils can opt to study English at either Higher or Standard Level. The course is examined through oral assessment, coursework and terminal examination. As an alternative, Literature and Performance is also available, a synthesis of English and Theatre arts, at Standard Level. HL students are taught by two teachers and SL by one. A wide range of texts, including a substantial number of world literature texts, are taught. All students study the key genres across a wide range of historical periods. The teaching of Literary Criticism is also a key component of the course. Many of our students continue on to University to read English, and a series of classes are held to further their interests and skills including lectures from outside speakers.
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