English is at the centre of any school curriculum – the ability to communicate effectively through the spoken word and in writing is fundamental to success, academically and in the wider world. At St Edward’s, the English Department places emphasis on reading as a lifelong activity – classic texts, recent fiction, newspapers and a wide range of non-fiction – to encourage our pupils to engage wholeheartedly with the world, appreciating, criticising and questioning what they read, in an independent and confident way.
English classes are set by ability, and the Department has had a record of very good ‘value-added’ in our exam grades. But exam results are only part of what we do. We offer a rich variety of activities within the classroom and in the extra-curricular life of the school:
– Each year, we organise a poetry competition, in which pupils of all ages are invited to submit their original work to a panel of judges (English teachers and Sixth Form students), with generous prizes for the winners.
– On National Poetry Day, in October, there is an exuberant ‘Poetry Slam’ in the Main Hall, where pupils stand up and perform poetry of their choice in a variety of styles.
– A Spelling competition, the Readathon, an English Magazine, a Sixth Form Writing group, a Literary Society and the Debating society are all thriving.
– There are regular theatre trips, and A Level and GCSE students participate in academic workshops and after school ‘clinics’ to improve their understanding of the set texts.
Drama is a flourishing and popular subject area at St Edward’s and production work, whether directly related to the teaching programme or not, is a vital part of the life of the school.
The emphasis in the St Edward’s Drama programme is on the personal development of the individual student. Drama seeks to cater for all student abilities and talents, considers their individuality and personality and values their feelings and responses. Students engage directly with issues as individuals and as a part of a group and explore the practical, creative and technical nature of the subject.
Drama is taught in all year groups; Year 7, 8 and 9 pupils have lessons every week, and it is a flourishing option subject at both GCSE and A Level. The department currently follows the AQA syllabus at both GCSE and A Level.
The Drama Studios, opened in the autumn of 2008, are an outstanding and purpose-built resource, and house all our formal curriculum work as well as providing a flexible and dynamic performance space for examination work and visiting theatre companies. The Drama Studio is equipped with two full lighting rigs and sound systems so it can either be used as one large working area or be divided into two smaller ones.
The Director of Drama is Mr Jerry Strachan.
The EAL Department is the school’s newest department and is growing year on year as our provision for our international students increases. Our aim is quite simply to improve the level of English, study skills and cultural awareness of all students who have need of this additional input. This make take the form of a level of assistance needed to aid access to the curriculum or may be more significant for students who require preparation for IGCSE English as a Second Language or IELTS for university entrance.
We test all entrants into the school, whose interview or academic background suggests they might need to be on the EAL Register. Not all students on the EAL Register may require EAL lessons, but the majority do and the positive impact on their levels of progress in their academic subjects as well as the extra confidence that they gain in the interactions with their peers, makes this very worthwhile, and for many, absolutely essential. We set targets and monitor progress so that we can provide the appropriate intervention. This is usually in the form of individual lessons to enable a tailored programme to be provided, although group lessons may also be possible. We now have three experienced specialist teachers who are able to deliver these courses and EAL lessons are normally charged for, in addition to the normal school fees.
We use a range of resources, including IT, audio and written sources and the material we use links in with many different cultures from all over the world, which facilitates many interesting discussions!