The Faculty of English at Wath Comprehensive School is focused on ensuring that all students, regardless of ability, achieve their full potential in English. The skills of reading, writing and spoken communication are each given full consideration in order to develop students into competent and analytical users of English. Furthermore, the Faculty hopes to inspire a love of language and literature and, where necessary, prepare students for university-level study.
Students receive five lessons of English a week (four in Year 8), rising to six at A Level. Classes in Key Stage 3 and 4 are usually organised broadly by ability, though the exact structure varies depending on the year group and needs of the students.
Key Stage 3
The Key Stage 3 curriculum strikes a balance between encountering engaging content and enhancing skills. The units studied ensure that students have a wide-ranging experience of English. Reading is encouraged, with a range awards available to those who read and engage with a range of books independently through the Accelerated Reading scheme.
English in Year 7 is magical! Students begin with an exciting writing project. They then discover the magic of reading and writing through the studying of a novel, a play, poetry and creative writing. Throughout the year, students go from exploring William Shakespeare’s world in Hamlet to writing persuasive texts. During the festive season, students brave the ghosts of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
Year 8 English is full of mystery. Students study a further novel and a play (the classic and gripping Dracula), along with war poetry. Creative writing skills are developed through an ever-popular unit based around the sinking of the Titanic. In addition, students become Arctic explorers reporting back to base camp in a non-fiction unit and visit the magical island of Shakespeare’s Tempest, where their spoken language skills are developed.
Selected students in Year 8 attend an additional weekly lesson that focuses on developing their literacy skills.
Key Stage 4
All students study separate GCSEs in English Language and English Literature, following the AQA specifications. Year 9 is focused on securing students’ skills for the GCSEs, before moving onto completing the examined content in Years 10 and 11. We take an integrated approach to the course, with linguistic and literary skills being taught side-by-side.
In GCSE English Language, students analyse a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Students also refine their writing skills, both for creative purposes (including writing descriptions and narratives) and to give their views for different audiences. Finally, spoken language is enhanced, with a separate grade being awarded for presentation skills.
GCSE English Literature exposes students to the full range of the literary canon. As expected, Shakespeare is an important part of the course, with a play (typically Romeo and Juliet) being considered in detail. In addition, students analyse a nineteenth-century novel (such as Great Expectations or Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde) and a modern text (such as An Inspector Calls). A range of poetry (consisting of set works published since 1789 and contemporary unseen poems) completes the course.
At A Level, both English Language (following the AQA specification) and English Literature (with WJEC Eduqas) are offered. To make full use of the Faculty’s expertise, each class’s lessons are split equally between two teachers.
Students opting to study A Level English Language look at how language is used in everyday life and how it reflects the world around us. Year 12 students are introduced to the concepts and skills needed to analyse both written and oral language and apply them to a range of texts. The diversity of language – including differences between genders, social groups and regions – is also studied, along with some expressive writing skills. In Year 13, children’s language development and language change are introduced. Non-exam assessment (coursework) consists of a piece of original writing and a language investigation into an area of the student’s own interest. In 2016, students’ progress in A Level English Language was in the top 10% of the country.
The A Level English Literature course develops students’ analytical skills through a range of prose, poetry and drama. Plays taught include Shakespeare (normally King Lear), a further pre-1900 play (such as The Duchess of Malfi) and a post-1900 play (usually A Streetcar Named Desire). One collection of pre-1900 poetry (typically John Donne) and two post-1914 poets (for example, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath) are studied. Prose is assessed through non-exam assessment, with students having a guided choice in the pre-1900 and post-1900 texts analysed. Further prose and poetry (this time unseen) comprise the final exam.
Regardless of other subject choices, any sixth former who does not have a good grade in GCSE English Language is given the opportunity to resit this vital qualification. Success rates are considerably above national averages.
Students can choose from a number of English clubs, including Wath Witty Reviewers, an inter-school mock trial competition and the editorial team for the school newspaper, The Torch.
Each year, the Faculty organises a number of trips, such as visits to theatres, the Harry Potter tour at the Warner Bros Studios, Grimm and Co. (Rotherham's only apothecary), the Rotherham Children’s Book Awards, Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon and, for sixth form students, study days at local universities.
World Book Day, held every March, is a huge event on the English calendar, with the entire Faculty dressing up and a number of activities for students taking place in and out of lessons. Many students also take part in the annual Readathon (sponsored read) and a number have also entered writing competitions, with many enjoying success.
In the run up to exams, the Faculty holds a number of targeted revision sessions, both after school and during holidays.
The Faculty of English is housed in thirteen classrooms, mostly on the first floor of the main school building. Each classroom contains an interactive whiteboard and visualiser, along with a class set of dictionaries. Two of the classrooms are dedicated ICT suites. In addition, the Faculty has its own set of iPads as well as a number of video cameras. The large collection of novels, novellas, short stories, plays, poetry collections, textbooks, DVDs and specialist computer software used for teaching is continually refreshed. The Faculty enjoys good links with the library.