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    ‘A word after a word after a word is power’

    Margaret Atwood

    English offers the opportunity to explore other worlds, times, experiences and ideas through the study of great works of literature.


    Mr M Thomas (Subject Leader)
    Mrs N Graham (2nd in Dept.)
    Mrs B James
    Mr A Coventon
    Mrs A Simmonds
    Ms R Widdup (Assistant Head)
    Mrs K Harrison
    Mr J Sear
    Mr O Chipchase


    We strive for students to become compassionate, creative thinkers capable of critical interpretation, whilst fostering a lifelong passion for the power of language and literature in its myriad forms.


    English at DGGS is currently taught in mixed ability form groups. All lessons follow the aims of the National Curriculum to develop competence, creativity, cultural understanding and critical interpretation, achieved through the study of a wide variety of texts, themes and ideas. English lessons are designed to be academically rigorous and to increase students’ cultural capital. With this aim in mind, students study a range of extracts and full texts by authors, both modern and canonical, from Homer to Shakespeare, Dickens to Duffy.

    Students are encouraged to read widely and the English curriculum across all Key Stages offers plenty of opportunity for this, with the reading of great literature at the heart of all that we do. We have very strong links to the Library and students are provided with reading lists and opportunities to visit the Library throughout the year. Homework and independent study often involves students reading the set texts or reading books from the library, along with learning vocabulary, spellings, quotations, and information about key texts, with the aim of building a strong foundation for their reading and writing.

    Alongside the enriching experience of reading and discussing literature, there are several extra-curricular opportunities available to students. Students are invited to join the English Society, Debating club, and become a reporter for Optima, the school magazine. These clubs are run by our Sixth Form Subject Ambassadors and are supported by a designated English teacher. Throughout the year, the English Department also takes students on theatre visits and, in collaboration with the Drama Department, arranges for theatre companies to visit the school to perform and lead workshops.

    When planning our curriculum we consider the substantive and disciplinary knowledge students require to achieve academic success in English and then carefully consider the

    sequencing of these key skills and concepts. Below are some examples of our rigorous approach to curriculum design.

    Key Stage 3: Year 7 study The Odyssey in order to understand the concept of allusion which is integral to understanding the purpose of biblical and classical references made in Macbeth for their GCSE in English Literature. This unit also introduces an analytical writing style which is practised in every unit of work at Key Stage 3 to prepare learners for the expected academic rigour of GCSE and A Level responses. Year 7 also study Alice in Wonderland to unlock their imagination, practise their creative writing and explore the concept of the phantasmagorical, as elements of this can be found within the unit for the Gothic in Year 8 as well as The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at GCSE. Students also develop an appreciation of Drama through the study of Shakespeare’s The Tempest as well as Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.

    Year 8 study the tropes and conventions of the Gothic genre which gives students the foundations needed for the study of Macbeth and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde for their GCSE in English Literature, as well as Dracula and The Picture of Dorian Gray at A Level. British literary heritage is explored with students analysing the work of romantic poets such as Wordsworth, Brontë and Blake, whilst reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Students also study War Poetry which not only makes connections with History but develops the skill of comparative analysis. This skill is essential for the GCSE English Literature examinations for the Relationships anthology and Unseen Poetry. Disciplinary knowledge such as how to approach this type of essay feeds in to the approach needed to tackle the Forward Prize Poems of the Decade anthology component at A Level. A trip to the Globe Theatre also runs with the support of the History department to understand the Elizabethan era and the cultural significance of William Shakespeare.

    Year 9 begin by studying Romeo and Juliet which introduces the concept of tragedy which not only feeds in to their analysis of Macbeth at GCSE but also supports their exploration of A Streetcar Named Desire and Othello at A Level. Students also have the opportunity to study a wide variety of poems linked by the theme of ‘Belonging’ which supports the development of mutual respect and compassion for others as students experience poetry from diverse backgrounds. Towards the end of the year a range of extracts from canonical Victorian novels are studied and analysed to develop skills of annotation and analysis which prepares students for the challenge of their English Language GCSE and they are expected to prepare and deliver a presentation on a nineteenth-century novel of their choice.

    Key Stage 4: Students at GCSE study Edexcel English Language and English Literature courses and explore a wide range of poetry, prose and drama texts, taught in five mixed ability groups. During their study of GCSE, students are exposed to a range of texts and ideas, where the strong foundation of Key Stage 3 is built on further. At GCSE, students study a Shakespeare play (Macbeth), a nineteenth century novel (The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde), poetry (Relationships), another British play (An Inspector Calls) and non-fiction. They also write for both imaginative and transactional purposes, using their exposure to high quality writing to inspire their own. These creative skills have been developed over the course of Key Stage 3 in conjunction with the skills of annotation and analysis.

    Key Stage 5: English Literature is extremely popular, with about half the year group choosing to study the subject at A-Level. Post-18, there is a high number of students who choose to study Literature at university, often at the most prestigious universities in the country. At A-Level, students are given increased autonomy, choosing several of the texts they study for coursework, as well as being exposed to a range of critics and theoretical viewpoints to enhance their understanding of the literature they read. Lessons are designed with a strong focus on academic knowledge and critical interpretation, with students taught in both lecture and seminar style lessons to help prepare them for a university education.

    Students examine Othello which continues the study of Shakespeare from Key Stage Three and Key Stage Four and also explore Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. The Picture of Dorian Gray and Dracula are studied in conjunction with students expected to identify comparative points between the two nineteenth century Gothic texts which builds upon their earlier analysis of Victorian Literature in KS3 and their understanding of the codes and conventions of the Gothic genre developed across the Key Stages. Modernism and contemporary poetry are studied at A Level with students drawing on their knowledge of comparing poetry which has been developed throughout their study of English at the school.

    Revision Guides:

    Jekyll and Hyde Revision Booklet

    Macbeth Revision Booklet

    NEW 52 Revsion Tasks

    GCSE Poetry Revision Booklet

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