Statement of Intent:
The English Department at St Gregory’s aims to provide the opportunity for every student to grow in confidence in their critical and creative expression. In our classes, they should develop respect and tolerance for others, whether encountered across the table or in texts. We want students to develop a passion for literature and an awareness of language, expanding their range of expression consciously and in so doing enhance their critical acuity.
They will encounter a range of texts selected from the literary canon and we want them to appreciate their literary heritage. Our choices reflect our wish for students to encounter texts and themes that challenge myths and prejudices, e.g. Shakespeare and Dickens, but also ‘Animal Farm’, ‘An Inspector Calls’ or ‘Small Island’. Through a variety of prose, poetry and drama each year, our intention is to offer increasing challenge from Year 7 to GCSE. They will meet whole texts that will broaden their understanding of other cultures and add to their cultural capital. The poetry selection offers cultural diversity and complements the openness of St Gregory’s to this.
Our intention is to promote their increasing literacy and to offer chances for exercising their speaking skills. This is with a view to developing their self-confidence, creativity and employability. We will continue to provide opportunities for excursions such as theatre trips. These complement our teaching of drama and plays; they help students to understand theatre and visual performance. Shakespeare features in every year’s study.
After GCSE, we look forward to welcoming many students interested in studying English Language and Literature A Levels. GCSE skills lead towards English Language and English Literature; good foundations of writing cogently and critically underlie the greater independence in A Level study.
In Years 7-8, students study a range of modern and historical poetry and prose, Shakespearean and modern drama, with literary forms interspersed across the two years. The aim is for students to secure a wide range of comprehension, analytical, oracy and written skills. This will prepare students for their two-year GCSE course in both the explorations of creative reading and writing, understanding writers’ viewpoints and perspectives, and literary approaches to seen and unseen texts. Each year should build upon skills, technical vocabulary and thematic complexity developed in the previous years.
Year 9 is viewed as a transition to KS4 and its skills (though not texts) begin to be taught more purposefully and explicitly. We continue to use the AQA syllabus as it is the largest and best-resourced exam board for English. Our priorities remain the encouragement of reading, the attention to culture and current affairs, and the acquisition of better self-expression and a mature vocabulary. These remain crucial at A Level, too. We choose Edexcel Pearson A Level courses because they continue to provide opportunity for coursework and open texts in examinations; for Literature we select texts to give breadth to and to cultivate critical and cultural thought, and we allow the students considerable freedom in choosing coursework texts. In Language, we prize the opportunity for the individual investigation which hones evaluative thinking and research skills.