English at the Abbey
All students have to study English up to Year 11; our aim is to make it accessible, relevant and enjoyable for all. Enabling students to see the how they can apply the skills they learn in English to subjects such as Art and Biology is an important part of the curriculum. The study of English is not just functional, however, and we are continually adapting the curriculum to reflect the exciting changes in both literature and language that occur almost daily. We have mapped the Key Stage Three curriculum to the GCSE courses in Literature and Language. This means that students are continually building on and refining the skills they will need for both the Literature and Language GCSE, as well as developing a knowledge of a wealth of literary texts from across the centuries.
The subject is taught by four specialists, each of whom bring their own interests and specialism to the curriculum, be this War Literature, 19th century fiction, modern drama or creative writing. We invite poets and authors, such as Nigel Hinton, to talk to students about the process of writing. Students have enjoyed performances such as the Box Clever version of Macbeth in the Abbot’s Hall, as well as trips to the theatre to see novels brought to life, such as Frankenstein and Of Mice and Men. We run short story competitions and encourage students to develop their own voice in the creative writing club. Each year we enter teams for the Youth Speaks public speaking competition and opportunities for debate are built into lessons.
English continues to be a popular subject at A level. We follow the AQA Specification A syllabus. In Year 12 students explore how aspects of love are explored in literature across the centuries. In Year 13, the focus is on literature from 1940 onwards, evaluating how writers reflect issues such as conflict, identity and gender in their work. In previous years students have gone on to complete degrees in the subject at Cambridge as well as at universities such as Kings College and Exeter. Students often study the subject alongside History or Psychology and find that, in exploring the connections across these disciplines, their understanding of each is strengthened.