English at Chigwell is taught in a way that combines academic rigour with an enthusiastic and flexible approach. The department’s teachers, each different in style, are united in the aim of offering a lively experience of English for the students within the clear framework provided by the Scheme of Work. A good deal of emphasis is placed on literature throughout our teaching, as we believe that engagement with a wide variety of good writing is at the heart of developing both imagination and style. We also give appropriate attention to the full range of skills, both written and oral, that will equip our pupils to succeed in the world around them.
At this stage of their studies, the focus is on both literature and literacy. Students develop their creative and analytical skills through classroom study, theatre trips and visiting speakers. We develop a love of independent reading by dedicating time within the English curriculum to reading and we use Accelerated Reader as a means to incentivize the students to read widely and for pleasure.
Pupils study a range of set texts spanning prose, poetry and plays and explore concepts such as identity, crime and punishment. Set texts form the core of the work covered in the classroom. Prose might include Susan Hill, Arthur Conan Doyle, Michael Morpurgo or Robert Louis Stevenson; poetry might involve Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Simon Armitage, DH Lawrence or Tennyson; and drama will include one Shakespeare play per year and other playwrights such as Rose, Wilde, Sherriff or Priestley. Reading lists exist to encourage further independent reading.
In Years 10 and 11, students build on the work started in Years 7 to 9, and commence the IGCSE courses in English language and English literature.
The courses include both examination and coursework and cover a wide range of skills including creative and persuasive writing, close analysis of texts and an appreciation of literary genres.
English literature is one of the most established, rigorous and widely-recognised A level courses. It allows students to engage in a stimulating and demanding way with a wide range of texts ranging from the fourteenth century English poet Chaucer to the contemporary novelist Moshin Hamid.
Studying English literature at Chigwell is lively and interactive, and relies on students participating fully in group work and student-led seminar presentations. Discussing complex ideas and challenging themes in a lively and supportive environment is integral to our working methods, and students grow in skill and confidence as they explore texts in detail.
The course is popular and has an outstanding record of success. The qualification is admired by universities and enables students to go on to study a wide range of courses at the highest level and subsequently embark on a variety of prestigious careers.
Students develop their interest in and enjoyment of literature and literary studies as they:
- Read widely and independently both set texts and others that they have selected for themselves
- Engage creatively with a substantial body of texts and ways of responding to them
- Develop and effectively apply their knowledge of literary analysis and evaluation in speech and writing
- Explore the contexts of the texts they are reading and others’ interpretations of them
There is always something going on in the English department! We mark events such as Book Week, World Book Day and National Poetry Day every year.
Students wishing to take their learning further can carry out optional HPQ qualifications connected to the subject or learn some poetry for the Poetry by Heart competition which we enter on an annual basis.
We run an exciting programme of trips to the theatre – in Cambridge, the West End and elsewhere in London, Stratford-upon-Avon and beyond – and a thriving range of extra-curricular activities.
There is a whole host of different activities to get involved in, from debating and public speaking events, trips to the theatre, cultural events and more.
We run a mix of lunchtime and after-school clubs that cover creative writing, poetry appreciation, and debating and discussion, as well as book clubs and public speaking clubs.
Our in-house public speaking and debating competitions include the both the formal inter-house public speaking and debating competitions but also the annual Festival of the Spoken Word.
We also prepare and enter students for external public speaking and debating events such as the Rotary Youth Speaks competition (three age categories) and the Oxford Union. In 2017, our senior team reached the Oxford final and our intermediate team reached the regional final of the Rotary Youth Speaks competition.
We encourage students to submit essays to the Connell Essay competition and the Peterhouse competition. In addition, we regularly have students submit poetry and creative writing to national competitions, such as the Tower competition. We also encourage pupils to submit their writing to the School’s student magazine, The Pilot.