Ms. K. Cunningham
Members of the department
Ms. K. Barham
(2nd in Department, KS5 coordinator)
Mr. J. Bishop
Ms. J. Jordan
Ms. R. Stevens
Ms. J. Baum
Ms. P. Melville
(International Dimension Coordinator)
Mr. A. Prosser
(ITT Co-ordinator, Assistant DoS – Brunel)
Mr. C. Waters
Mr. M. Yeates
(PGCE Subject Mentor)
Ms. D. Evans
(Inclusion Manager & Assistant Headteacher)
Ms. M. Goodwin
About Our Subject
The English Department at Christopher Whitehead has a passion for English. First and foremost we wish to encourage the students to take pleasure in reading a wide range of literature and in their own writing. As a team of committed English specialists, with an enviably wide range of experience, we are acutely aware that ours is a subject that is regarded as vital in the wider world and we work hard to ensure that every student is able to maximise their potential.
However English should be, and is, more than this; it is a subject that broadens our horizons. We live in a world of mass communication and we aim to teach our students the complex tools of being able to read critically and to be able to develop their ability to question the world and the way it is portrayed. We also value oracy and promote its confident use throughout our curriculum.
At the end of their time with us we look to have a cohort of students who have developed into imaginative and critical thinkers and are able to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively through the spoken and written word.
Our two year Key Stage 3 curriculum is an important stepping stone that prepares the students for the rigors of the GCSE curriculum and begins our journey through literature. We look closely at the skill-set required by the GCSE and introduce them right from the start of year 7 while also providing broad exposure to great works and genres of writing from across the ages and cultures. Using a wide variety of stimuli we practise speaking, reading and both analytical and creative writing skills. Students are also encouraged to develop their reading ability and to regularly use the library through the Accelerated Reader programme.
In year 7 we look at a broad range of literature, including myths and legends, Shakespeare and narrative poetry. Students will develop different writing styles and develop their powers of observation and description, both of people and places, and will become more equipped at understanding and analysing characters.
In year 8 we begin with a unit on the Gothic genre before completing close reading and analysis of Animal Farm by George Orwell. The year finishes with a unit based on texts from other cultures. Students build on the skills introduced in Y7 and explore a diverse range of fiction and non-fiction texts connected to each unit. The deliberate choices made by writers and the influence of writing for a specific audience and purpose is explored in greater detail.
Our Key Stage 4 begins in year 9, students follow the GCSE AQA English Language and English Literature courses. These courses seek to develop and assess students’ skills in reading and writing across a wide variety of genres from the 19th – 21st centuries. Speaking and Listening remains an important part of the curriculum but is now declared as a separate grade on GCSE certificates.
We use year 9 as a stepping stone into the GCSE, developing the skills and the confidence of the students. We begin the year with a much loved classic, Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’, which allows us to explore the skills that students already possess and the areas in which we need to develop. After Christmas of year 9 we begin the GCSE course, allowing us to fully understand the literature the students are required to learn about.
Students are taught through the literature texts which will always include a 19the century novel, a Shakespeare play and a modern text as well as an anthology of poetry on the broad themes of power and conflict. We use these texts as well as a variety of literary non-fiction to practise the skills required for both English Language and English Literature.
Students also study the craft of writing for a variety of purposes. Technical accuracy in students’ work now has greater emphasis and is 20% of the final GCSE English Language grade, so it is vital that students are able to correctly use a range of sentence structures, punctuation and vocabulary for effect in a range of different texts.
At KS5 we offer three A-levels.
In English Literature (AQA) the course follows two themes of study.
Paper 1 is entitled ‘Love through the Ages’ and involves the study of a Shakespeare play; ‘Othello’; an anthology of poems, with love and relationships as their theme, and ‘The Great Gatsby’.
Paper 2 has a uniting theme of World War One and we study texts that explore the effect of that war. Some of the texts, like the poetry of Wilfred Owen, were written during the war itself, whilst others are more modern interpretations of the war and its events.
Finally, students complete a coursework assignment based on choices of texts, dependant on their areas of interest.
English Language and Literature
English Language and Literature (OCR) gives students the opportunity to combine their love of literature, creative writing and language analysis in one A-level. The course follows these main themes of study:
Component 1 focuses on an OCR anthology of 20 non-fiction spoken and written texts across different time periods and contexts. It involves comparative and contextual study based on the anthology and unseen texts.
Component 2 focuses on one poetry collection from William Blake and one drama text (A Streetcar Named Desire’ by Tennessee Williams). This will involve the exploration of the texts through stylistic and dramatic analysis.
Component 3 Part A (Reading as a Writer) of Component 3 focuses on exploring the nature of narrative in one prose fiction text (‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald). Part B (Writing as a Reader) develops the understanding of narrative technique through a creative writing task and a commentary analysing your choices.
Component 4 is the coursework element is split into two tasks – both offer opportunities for independent study allowing learners to pursue particular interests and develop their expertise. The first part is an analytical comparative essay on a set text from a list of 12 non-fiction texts and a second free choice text. The second element is a piece of original non-fiction writing. The original writing could take the form of travel writing, memoir, speeches, articles, digital texts, multi-modal texts or any other text in a non-fiction genre. The range of text types studied for component 1 is likely to offer models for some of the kinds of non-fiction forms you could produce.
A Level Film Studies (WJEC Eduqas) covers a wide variety of films for students to broaden their knowledge and understanding. We offer opportunities to study mainstream American films from the past and the present as well as a range of recent and contemporary British films, American independent films and global films, both non-English language and English language.
There are 2 Components covered in 2 exams and 1 Non-Exam Assessment:
Component 1 explores Old and New Hollywood with the films Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958) and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Forman, 1975). We also examine the difference between Mainstream Hollywood films and Independent films.
Component 2 moves us into global films, with two non-English language films, Pan’s Labyrinth (Del Toro, 2006) and City of God (Meirelles & Lund, 2002), the study of the documentary Amy (Kapadia, 2015) and we also explore the era of Silent Films with a collection of Buster Keaton short films. Finally, Component 2 finishes with the study of experimental film, which is captured by Pulp Fiction (Tarantino, 1994), providing a bookend for a wide variety of films across history.
Production work is 1/3 of the A-Level and is a chance for students to demonstrate all they have learnt through their own film or script. Studying a diverse range of films from several different contexts is designed to give learners the opportunity to apply their knowledge and understanding of how films are constructed to their own filmmaking and screenwriting. This is intended to enable learners to create high-quality film and screenplay work as well as provide an informed filmmaker’s perspective on their own study of film with the addition of the accompanying evaluative analysis.