Students of English at Stratford Girls’ Grammar School are creative, reflective, curious communicators. The English Department aim to spark students’ curiosity about the written word and empower them to become confident and adept readers, speakers and writers. Our inspirational Stratford-upon-Avon setting expands beyond our historic grounds, as we provide opportunities for local and national theatre visits, reading and writing groups, competitions and workshops; all contributing to a unique and enriching wider provision.
Key Stage 3 Curriculum
Each teacher’s distinctive enthusiasm for an author or genre is brought into the classroom where students are encouraged to be critical consumers of the texts they are studying. Careful attention is paid to the National Curriculum, but SGGS use this as a springboard rather than a constraint. Subject specialists have the freedom to be creative as a means of tapping into girls’ enjoyment of reading and writing.
Students learn to see novels, plays and poetry as a social document reflecting the cultural values of the time in which they were produced. Girls are encouraged to see their English lessons as an opportunity to engage with a rich and varied range of literary and non-fiction texts. The distinct ethos of the SGGS classroom transports them into the worlds of both canonical writers such as Shakespeare and Bronte as those of modern writers representative of all cultures and backgrounds.
Students in Year 7 focus on the mechanics of English. The Department advocates a strong emphasis on equipping girls with the tools to communicate accurately and critically. Through a diverse range of literary and non-fiction extracts girls will explore the wonders of ‘Myths and Villains.’ They will tackle a range of diverse ‘Animal’ poetry from different cultures and centuries. Students will explore ‘The Magic of Shakespeare’ as well as critically engaging with a range of openings to different novels. We also immerse our girls in the study of semantics and etymology as we explore what makes the English Language. The ‘Hathaway Reading Project’ fosters good independent reading habits. We aim to transform the reluctant reader into an impassioned reader of habit by the end of Year 7.
In Year 8 girls continue to develop the critical skills of analysis nurtured in Year 7. This academic year is characterised by a broad range of diverse fiction and non-fiction. A ‘Journeys’ project will introduce girls to news reportage, memoir and travel writing. Our Shakespeare study will focus on the literary history, culture and context of the play as well as a detailed exploration of language and theme. A challenging reading project enables girls to widen their reading habits with authors such as Sylvia Plath, Seamus Heaney, Chinua Achebe among those being studied. An anthology of poetry from other cultures is offered allowing students to compare themes. Finally, the dark world of the Gothic is taught inspiring students to respond creatively to stimulus material from Bronte, Stoker and Shelley.
In Year 9 SGGS students focus on exploring and comparing perspective and viewpoint focusing especially within pre and post nineteenth century non-fiction. Students’ speaking and listening skills are nurtured through an extended project where girls research, prepare and present their own individual speeches. Writing skills are targeted through extended critical essays as well as leaflet, news reportage and letter writing. Girls will study a complete Shakespeare play; nineteenth century fiction and poetry from across the ages. This year provides an exciting foundation to GCSE study.
Key Stage 4 Curriculum
All students in Year 11 take GCSEs in both English Language and English Literature. Most of our students are voracious readers and many are gifted writers. We encourage them to share their ideas and continue to expand their fiction and non-fiction reading tastes.
Our unique setting and historic links to the life and heritage of William Shakespeare provides SGGS students with an inspirational environment that is unlike any other. Through invigorating and challenging discussion, group work and independent research, students examine English as a defining force whilst simultaneously developing their own voice. Studying English allows young women of the future to test drive their critical views and voices about the here and now.
Studying English Language allows students to demonstrate skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing. These transferable qualities are necessary to communicate with others confidently, effectively, precisely and appropriately. Expressing themselves creatively and imaginatively, students learn to understand the patterns, structures and conventions of both written and spoken English, adapting speech and writing to different situations and audiences. English Literature teaches students to understand and respond to literary texts in different forms and from different periods and cultures, as well as exploring the contribution of literature to an understanding of areas of human concern.
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