- Director of English and Media: Mrs T Wrycraft
- Second in English (KS5): Mr G Kay
- Second in English (KS3): Mr W Bulteel
- Literacy Co-ordinator: Ms S Siggins
- Ms Siggins (FT)
- Ms McIntosh (FT)
- Mr Bulteel (FT)
- Ms R Manocha (PT)
- Ms R Gakhal (PT)
- Ms A Kazi
- Ms C Dovey (PT)
English at Burnham Grammar School
Our Department Mission Statement : The vision of Burnham Grammar School’s English department is to enable students to become better readers, writers, speakers and listeners today, and for the rest of their lives.
- To provide a comprehensive experience of the literary world, including that of multimedia environments and literature from other cultures.
- To equip students with discursive skills that allow them to present arguments and counter arguments with articulate and creative use of vocabulary.
- To provide a chance to develop the key communication skills of speaking and listening.
- To encourage curiosity and interest in writing, promoting well expressed responses that evaluate concepts with critical detachment.
- To equip students with literacy and media literacy competency that allows for success in their chosen courses at GCSE, post 16, post 18 and into adult life.
- To encourage students to become interested, life-long readers and proficient communicators.
- Through a varied and diverse curriculum plan for each year which explicitly references reading skills throughout.
- Through engaging classroom practice and innovative teaching techniques.
- By encouraging responsible learning, curiosity and resilience.
- By encouraging ‘good’ risk taking and helping students build resilience.
- Through effective assessment and feedback, allowing students to improve work in a supportive environment.
- Using modes of memory/cognitive load theory to consolidate learning.
- Through modelling good reading habits and encouraging discourse about literature
- Students will have improved literacy skills and be able to apply that literacy successfully.
- Students will feel confident in taking calculated risks, embracing challenge and being responsible learners.
- Students will appreciate the pleasure of becoming life-long readers and have the opportunity to see the benefits of this.
- These outcomes lead to students understanding how to meet their targets, access support and enables them to use these skills successfully in that lesson, scheme of work, the wider curriculum and further into their adult life.
Wider Curriculum Opportunities:
- Cross curricular links are built with RS, Drama ADT and History in KS3 and 4
- Cross curricular links with Drama in KS4 and 5.
- Cross curricular links with Careers education and PSCHE throughout
- KS5 links with Psychology, Sociology and Philosophy
- Media and English skills are integrated at KS3
- Media whole school projects in Y12
- World book day activities/Library links in form time
- Y12 reading mentors for Y7 and Primary visits
- Reading for pleasure in form time.
- ‘BGS Bookworms’ Reading groups for KS3
- Scrabble club
- Poetry Club
- Writing competitions
BGS staff are proud of the personalised nature of their teaching and the English department is no different. Everyone brings their own enthusiasm and skill set to create a heady mixture of academic rigor and heartfelt care for students, we really are more than the sum of our parts!
There are ten members of the English Department, all of whom are subject specialists with a range of experiences away from the classroom that vary from Corporate Event Management to Law. We are very lucky to have such enthusiastic and committed teachers, who provide innovative teaching to all age groups. The Drama department works within our team, bringing their own perspective and experience to our teaching, allowing for an even deeper understanding of the texts. It’s an exciting, multi-skilled department.
Through our teaching we aim to provide a rich experience of the practical elements of English, as well as developing key critical skills and theoretical understanding. You can peruse our curriculum map HERE and see how we develop the links between current, future and past learning. We know that learning is a cumulative and ongoing process, so we strive to ensure that every lesson enables students to explore, extend and enhance their skills.
Undoubtedly, the study of English provides the gateway to future success. We believe that success at the higher levels is underpinned by breadth and depth of knowledge at key stage 3, so our sharp focus on literature and language is underpinned with multimedia skills making lessons relevant for today’s students. This focus is further developed during the GCSE course, where students study for discreet qualifications in English Language and English Literature (EDEXCEL 1-9). There is no longer any coursework, but students work toward a stand-alone certificate in spoken communication (SLE), the groundwork for which is laid in KS3 with presentation skills being at the heart of dedicated units. We know that you rarely get a second chance at a first impression, so we aim to ensure our students leave BGS ready to share their ideas in an erudite, confident and cogent manner.
We do not set or stream students, we understand that working alongside others of all different ability levels mirrors life and challenges all; with inspiring thought processes coming from varied levels of understanding and academic approaches, a mixed class ensures everybody is encouraged to stretch themselves further. Setting students can lead to the perception of an upper limit to achievement or elitism, we aim to inspire not impede. To ensure everyone has the best chance to succeed we also offer support through a teacher dedicated to small group tutoring, so that everyone meets their potential and has the tools for success. As all our English staff are trained subject specialists, they are skilled in differentiating even the simplest of task so that all students learn in the way that suits them best and make sustained progress.
Building Links with other subjects
Everyone knows that good reading and writing skills enhance a student’s performance in all subjects, but here at BGS we go a little further than that. We build opportunities into our curriculum that enable us to support the work of other departments and, most importantly, allow students to see the impact that their learning would have in a multi-disciplinary world.
We regularly give students opportunities to become more involved in extra-curricular activities with: student librarians; school performances (see Drama for more about this); a scrabble club; a poetry society; board games; debate clubs (see Religion and Ethics for more about this) and film making experiences across all key stages. The department also joins the History team on the Battlefields experience with Y8, building on the War Poetry unit and the study of the period in History lessons.
We run communication workshop days with Y7 and work with our very successful Young Enterprise team to develop pitching skills in our Dragon’s Den unit in Y8. We are planning for more trips abroad next year and two collapsed timetable days working with the PSCHE department to focus on key issues explored in our chosen texts at GCSE. Alongside this we work closely with the ADT department to show the beauty of the spoken work and the power of persuasion with the Poppies Project, Operation Snackalicious and The Dragon’s Den.
We regularly run writing and design competitions, giving students a number of opportunities to become more involved in the wider life of the school. We organise visits to the theatre, many of which are to shows requested by pupils.
Obviously, the main aim of any school is to deliver the highest possible standard of teaching culminating in excellence in results. Of course we aim to achieve that, we do so first and foremost through an enjoyment of learning. At BGS, we know that success at higher levels is underpinned by a breadth and depth of knowledge at Key Stage three and our sharp focus on both literature and language reflects this. All students have one hour guided reading and one hour of literacy a week in addition to the topics you’ll see in the curriculum outline, this allows them to take control of their own learning and develop their personal style ready for key stage four.
This focus is further developed during GCSE, where students study for discreet qualifications in English Language and English Literature (EDEXCEL 1-9). With the emphasis on skills, rather than rote learning, we recognise that the structure and pace of the curriculum is vital to success. The range of skills required at GCSE is varied, however our curriculum is designed to begin development of these in Year 7, so by the time students get to Year 9, formally beginning their GCSE study, they are already well prepared to meet the challenges offered. Again, the curriculum outline shows how topics build year upon year to present students with the best opportunity for success.
A Level English Literature is a popular choice at BGS, and we have spent time carefully developing our course to provide the most exciting and challenging opportunities for our sixth form cohort, offering theatre trips and enrichment experiences. We don’t just go on visits, we look to immerse students in a text. Recently, Y12 shared a Persian meal to appreciate the significance of food and mealtimes when studying A Thousand Splendid Sun. All of these are designed to allow our students to inhabit the world of the texts they study. We have recently altered our studied prose and coursework texts to reflect a more inclusive and diverse world, the aim of this is to ensure our students can see the relevancy of studying English at a higher level. Around 25% of our students go on to study English Literature at University and around 20% go into Law, whilst others go into Medicine, Ethics and political studies. English Literature and History, sociology, Psychology or Politics are indeed popular combinations, but there are also several students each year who successfully study English Literature alongside Maths, MFL or Science. It is a facilitating subject and therefore highly valued by universities because of its emphasis on independent learning, sophisticated writing and close analysis.
Students currently work towards Edexcel A-Level qualification in English Literature in year 12 and 13. We have chosen a two-year linear A Level course, with a 20% coursework element; this means that there is one examination of three papers at the end of Year 13.
I hope you can see from this just how much the BGS English department cares about students, not only seeing them as individuals with their own voice and identity, but also supporting them to become successful adults through the way the curriculum is structured to provide challenge at all levels. We feel passionately about our subject, and those that study it so if I were to put it simply, we strive to make each year, topic and lesson count.
Mrs T Wrycraft
Director of English & Media Studies
Please find links below to guide you to the English specifications that we offer
EDEXCEL GCSE 1-9 English Literature: http://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/edexcel-gcses/english-literature-2015.html
EDEXCEL GCSE 1-9 English Language: httpshttps://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/edexcel-gcses/english-language-2015.html
EDEXCEL GCE (A-Level) English Literature: https://qualifications.pearson.com/content/dam/pdf/A%20Level/English%20Literature/2015/Specification%20and%20sample%20assessments/A-level-Literature-spec.pdf
Texts studied in KS3 : (All of these will be provided by the school)
A Wide selection of Shakespeare
A whole novel – chosen by the teacher to suit the interests of the class
Poetry anthologies – cultural and identity poetry and War poetry
Non-fiction writing – food writing and writing for business/media projects
Texts studied at GCSE : (Students are expected to provide their own texts for in class study)
THESE EXAMS ARE CLOSED BOOK –SECOND HAND COPIES ARE ACCEPTABLE FOR IN CLASS STUDY
Macbeth or The Merchant of Venice
Boys don't Cry by Malorie Backman
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The Conflict section of the EDEXCEL anthology of poetry ( This is provided by the exam board)
Texts studied at A Level : (Students are expected to provide their own texts for some exams and in class study)
THESE EXAMS ARE OPEN BOOK AND CLEAN COPIES MUST BE BOUGHT INTO THE EXAM ROOM
Othello by William Shakespeare (Exam text provided by the school)
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams (Exam text provided by the school)
The Color Purple by Alice Walker (Exam text provided by the school)
Hard Times by Charles Dickens (Students must provide their own clean copy for exams)
The forward book of modern Poetry (post 2000) – poems examined are reprinted on the exam paper.
The Poetry of Christina Rossetti (An anthology is available from school for study but students must provide their own clean copy for exams)
Year 7 Reading Lists
At BGS we value reading and our younger students have library lessons once a fortnight where they focus on their reading skills and complete activities linked to their chosen books. However, we recognise that it’s not easy to keep up with the latest trends in texts and keeping students interested in reading for pleasure is a significant challenge when there are so many other distractions available. Becoming a life long reader will have a significant impact on students success. Mrs Wrycraft has done some research and here’s her advice :
School Reading List.co.uk offers a lot of engaging material, the reading lists are broken down by age group and interest, they also list graphic novels, newspapers and magazines that the more reluctant reader might find less daunting. Education research shows us that students who read regularly not only have a better command of English grammar and vocabulary but also have an excellent idea of what makes entertaining writing work, with imaginative writing being a whopping 25% of the Language GCSE grade it really worth developing a lifelong reading habit.
Another way to access good quality literature is through audio books. Quite often they are dramatised, which makes the listening experience quite engaging. Amazon run an app service called Audible, during Lockdown they have been offering a lot of children and young adult’s titles for free, it’s worth a look. You can also find some free audio books and excellent podcasts on the BBC Sounds app, I-Tunes and YouTube. Many local authorities run an audio book loans service through the Library system, it’s either free or very cheap to borrow a book for a couple of weeks. There are online options for many of these services, check out your local council website for more details.
Penguin’s list of Podcasts for Literature – an excellent place to begin for in the car or when public transport becomes safe once more. You could also listen when exercising, but please remember that it is dangerous to use headphones when cycling on the road.
A full map of our curriculum for Year 7 to 13 can be found below.