The English Department is one of the biggest, busiest and most lively in the school.
The department staff are passionate about and committed to all aspects of their subject, believing absolutely that our core business is to teach pupils to read intelligently and widely, and to learn to write and speak in a variety of styles and voices. Our senior pupils are challenged to read extensively and seriously, and the teachers do not make the easy choices when it comes to selecting curriculum texts; we pay much attention to making sure our texts are diverse in every sense of the word. We put a great deal of emphasis on our pupils knowing about language – both grammar, particularly in the younger years and, developing into in the later stages of school life, literary language and how it works. Our pupils do exceptionally well in exams, but their teachers never forget that education is about much more than what happens in the exam hall or even in the classroom.
The department is successful in the classroom to judge from the results – but just as important to its teachers is the culture of English in the school, which is encouraged in all sorts of different ways. Each class from Year 7 to Year 10 has a weekly library lesson and teachers actively promote good literary reading. The department organizes a range of publications of creative and critical material by individuals and groups, including ‘Outlook’ (a creative writing magazine) and the annual collaborative novel written by the Year 10 pupils. Publications including The Broadie and the termly arts magazine have their base in the English Department, while English teachers run optional courses at Sixth Form level such as AS Film Studies and Creative Writing (within the EPQ). It has practising writers coming to speak regularly and organizes visits to literary events and theatre shows; it encourages its pupils to enter writing and performing competitions; and works together with other departments, like history or classics, to explore the contexts of the pupils’ reading. It prepares its prospective pupils for university in extension classes and in recent years a steady stream of pupils have gone on to study English at the best universities in the country, including Oxbridge.