In Years 7, 8 and 9 we are committed to encouraging enjoyable creativity with language while focusing on the development of every student so that they may achieve the highest standards.
The novel is, of course, very important to us. At present we read texts as diverse as Julie Hearn’s The Merrybegot – fiction that is steeped in the history of witchcraft – through to novels that deal with modern concerns such as The Freedom Writers’ Diaries. Julie Hearn is a visitor to Finborough providing insight into the creative process for our students while Erin Gruwell’s Freedom Writers’ Project has provided a great deal of inspiration to our current Year 9 who have combined traditional study methods with the formulation of their own “free writing” project.
We believe that the earlier students read as writers and write as readers, the greater success they have when they sit GCSEs and beyond. We use a wide range of fictional stimulus texts ranging from 19th century classics through to contemporary works. As well as this, all Key Stage 3 students experience poetry, media and creative writing throughout the year.
Performance poetry has been a recent feature of what we offer our students. This year, we introduce our students to the “Verbalism” of Adisa and his “edutainment” approach to poetry and a belief that we share – that the word can open doors and make connections. We also fully support the drive to make drama at Finborough an excellent experience studying the History of Drama from Ancient Greece through to the modern day with a particular focus on Shakespeare in Years 8 and 9. On the whole, the Key Stage 3 experience prepares all students for the treats in store at GCSE.
At GCSE, we follow the AQA syllabi for English Language and English Literature, allowing all students to participate and experience the full range of texts available. Combining coursework tasks ranging from spoken language analysis to the more traditional examination texts, the course provides a framework for an enjoyable and fruitful two years.
We begin with an introduction to the course followed by a creative writing unit before moving on to war poetry. By now, the expressive writing and analytical reading of Key Stage 3, have prepared our students well. Shakespeare, in the Spring term of the first year, is followed by the second creative writing piece and further poetry study. The Shakespeare examination texts include Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night and Julius Caesar. These texts are studied in conjunction with one of the following texts from the literary heritage: Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, The Withered Arm and other Wessex Tales and Animal Farm.
Speaking and Listening activities are assessed throughout the year while we also look at the specifics of the language and literature examinations. In the second year we begin with the analysis of a literature drama text. Last year, it was Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, this year it will be DNA by Dennis Kelly. This will be followed by an extended reading piece that has the dual purpose of being a piece for English Language coursework and English Literature examination text. Choices range from Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones, Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and Rabbit-proof Fence by Doris Pilkington.
As well as this we have the opportunity to analyse spoken language. This is a wonderfully creative and enriching unit that enables students to explore the psychology of linguistic habits.
In summation we aim to provide a rich and diverse experience in the classroom that, while offering experience of the classics and traditional forms of English study, also allows for imaginative and enjoyable experiences. Beyond the classroom, we are increasing our involvement with educational visits. Our extra-curricular newspaper group are set to visit the offices of a broadsheet newspaper later this year after establishing the FSN (Finborough Student News), – an online, student operated, newspaper. Possible trips also include The Globe, Stratford-upon Avon and tie in workshop events suggested by AQA.
The English Department has created its own website which can be viewed by clicking here.