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 – on sabbatical
Ms. M. Dufty
(SEN Specific Learning Difficulties)
Ms. P. Melville
(International Dimension Coordinator)
Mr. A. Prosser
Mr. C. Waters
Ms. R. Yates
Mr. M. Yeates
Ms. D. Evans
(Additional Needs Coordinator & Assistant Headteacher)
Ms. M. Goodwin
Ms. S. Tideswell
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. We look closely at the skill-set required by the GCSE and introduce them right from the start of year 7. Using a wide variety of stimuli we practise both speaking, reading and writing skills. Students are also encouraged to increase their reading and to regularly use the library through the Accelerated Reader programme.
In year 7 we look at a broad range of literature, including gothic literature, Shakespeare, poetry and non-fiction writing. 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 ghost stories and then look at narrative poetry, including poetry from the 19th century. We also look at the dystopian novel genre and further non-fiction texts as well as looking at writing for different audiences.
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 two A-levels.
In English Literature 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-Literature gives students the opportunity to combine their love of literature, creative writing and language analysis in one A-level. The course follows two main themes of study:
Paper 1 is entitled ‘Telling Stories’ and involves the study of the AQA Paris Anthology, a selection of varied and interesting extracts; a modern novel such as ‘The Lovely Bones’ and the poetry of Seamus Heaney.
Paper 2 is ‘Exploring Conflict’. Students will study a modern novel such as ‘The Kite Runner’ and write a creative response which is a fantastic opportunity for students to develop their own writing skills. Students will also study a drama set text, such as ‘Streetcar Named Desire’.
Finally, students will complete a coursework assignment where they carry out a language investigation on a theme and idea of their choice.