Year 9 (Block 3)
English is approached primarily through the reading of novels, stories, poems and plays. Students are encouraged to think, write and talk lucidly and critically about what they have read. As well as providing stimulus for the imagination and for discussion of social, ethical and personal questions, we hope that the study of literature will increase awareness of the potential of language as a medium of expression. This is developed through detailed examination of how language is being used to precise effect in particular contexts and it is hoped that a growing critical awareness will filter into students' creative use of language.
The study of the language spreads beyond its specifically literary uses and any examples of English in use are potential grist to the English teacher's mill. Journalism, diaries, letters, biography and travel writing, for example, provide a wide range of writing for study. Over the year students will build up a portfolio of written work which will form part of their end of year assessment.
As students develop their own writing their work is regularly corrected to improve basic accuracy. We would like to think that most will be familiar with a vocabulary of essential grammatical and literary terms before they reach us, but inevitably some will not be, and therefore some time is spent in Block 3 reinforcing this.
Years 10 & 11
English Language IGCSE
All students in Block 5 take English language IGCSE. Everyone receives a copy of the Edexcel anthology of non-fiction writing, short stories and poems. The non-fiction section forms part of the preparation for the exam, while the stories and poems form the basis for one of the two coursework pieces. Although this is an English language course, we choose to deliver much of it through the study of whole literary texts, including a Shakespeare play. This ensures that those not opting for the BAC in English literature still have exposure to literature throughout Blocks 4 and 5. Assessment is by exam (70%), written coursework (20%) and speaking (10%). Block 4 are beginning a new specification with Edexcel this year; assessment is by exam (60%) and written coursework (40%) and there is a separate speaking and listening accreditation. Students in Block 4 will be awarded using the new 1-9 grading.
A Level students at Bedales follow Edexcel’s English Literature course which we feel offers us the greatest breadth of prose, poetry and drama from across different time periods and genres. We also feel that this course maintains the ability for staff and students at Bedales to have a degree of choice in the texts studied that other boards were unable to match. Edexcel is a very well established board and we are very pleased to be teaching a course which can establish rigour whilst enabling a passion for literature to flourish in our students.
The subject is assessed through three terminal examinations at the end of the second year and a piece of comparative coursework work worth 20% of the final mark. The exams papers are divided into Drama, Prose and Poetry. Drama and Poetry require two questions to be answered while Prose has only one as the prose is further studied through the coursework. The coursework is the product of a mixture of taught lessons and independent research carried out over the summer holiday between the 6.1 and 6.2 years and we would hope that a student completing this piece of work would have the opportunity to choose their own text and analytical focus for the final essay. Coursework is always a stimulating process that will form a major part of a student’s preparation for further study at university.
A Level English Literature is both challenging and rewarding; our students need to read widely and with variety, they learn how to be critical, analytical and cogent in their formal essay writing and they learn to talk about literature with confidence. Students will read Shakespeare, poetry and prose published both before and after 1900 giving them exposure to the literary canon and they will have the opportunity to study contemporary texts.
For those intending to read English at university there is an extension course in 6.2 looking at a range of demanding texts; this takes an extra two periods a week in the autumn term. We also endeavor to run theatre and lecture trips and expose students to readings and literary events when appropriate as this becomes an essential part of enabling students to feel fully rounded in their approach to literature as a discipline and as a pleasure.
Although creative writing is no longer part of the formal A Level assessment the English department offer students the chance to attend creative writing enrichment, to discuss their work with a professional writer and to enter their work into prestigious external competitions. We also produce the Poet’s Stone which is an anthology of creative work produced over the course of the year; students take a leading role editing and producing this.
View a short overview of English at all three Bedales Schools:
Head of Department: David Anson
Examining board: Edexcel