‘for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’
- William Shakespeare
‘He leading swiftly rolled
In tangles, and made intricate seem straight,
To mischief swift.’
- John Milton
The study of English in today’s world is one of particular importance as it is with increasing pace that young people are faced with the ‘cheapening of discourse’, as Peter Thomas recently wrote.
The English Department at St Mary’s delivers a rich and stimulating programme of study across all year groups, encouraging girls to find their own voices in the classroom and on the page. The study of Language and Literature enables a wonderfully diverse range of activities and academic opportunities to be made accessible to our students. The fundamental skills of reading, carefully and closely; writing, concisely and precisely, form the basis of everything we do. Enriching lessons are complemented by a number of book clubs, competitions and trips to the theatre. In the Sixth Form, A Level students are encouraged to attend the English Society meetings and this provides the opportunity to enjoy further lively discussion and debate. The Department relishes collaborating with other subject areas and each year produces a creative writing magazine, Literalily, with the Art Department. Winning entries to the school’s annual writing competition are published here, enabling many girls to see their words in print for the first time.
The Department facilitates engaging activities outside of the classroom too by attending A Level conferences, workshops and imaginative writing sessions as well as inviting poets, authors and other subject specialists into school. The girls are encouraged to nurture a love of Literature and an appreciation of the English language in order to achieve their optimum potential.
All students follow the Edexcel GCSE (9-1) Language course (1EN0). This requires students to analyse and respond to a wide variety of texts, both fiction and non-fiction, across centuries. They also need to manipulate and plan their writing, under timed conditions, and read for implicit meaning, amongst other skills. The Edexcel GCSE (9-1) Literature course (1 ET0) is also diverse in its range. Set texts currently include the ‘Relationships’ anthology, as put together by the exam board, An Inspector Calls by JB Priestley, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by RL Stevenson and Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare.
English Literature A level
This popular option combines beautifully with an extensive range of other A Level choices. We follow the OCR specification (H472) and texts explored include: Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Shakespeare’s Hamlet and An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde. Prose fiction, published post-2000, and a variety of poets are also studied, alongside an introduction to literary theory to inspire and prompt girls into their own lines of academic enquiry.
Ms Sophie Dunkin (Head of Department)