Director of English and Media: Mrs T Wrycraft
Second in English (KS5): Mr G Kay
Second in English (KS3): Ms A Hussain
Literacy co-ordinator: Ms S Clube
Ms R Youens
Ms R Manocha (PT)
Ms R Gakhal (PT)
Ms A Kazi
Ms C Dovey (PT)
At BGS we pride ourselves in the personalised nature of our teaching and the English department is no different. Each teacher brings their own enthusiasm and skill set to make a heady mixture of academic rigor and heartfelt care for the students, and we really are more than the sum of our parts! There are nine dedicated members of the English Department, all of whom are subject specialists. We are very lucky to have such enthusiastic and committed teachers, which allows us provide innovative teaching methods to all age groups.
The vision of Burnham Grammar School’s English department is to foster students’ love of reading and writing through creativity and pursuing new ideas. Obviously the main aim is to achieve the highest possible standards for all of our pupils culminating in excellence in results. But we aim to achieve that through an enjoyment of learning. Therefore, we strive to ensure that our curriculum is rich and diverse through topic choices and delivered with a range of learning experiences both within and outside of the classroom, I am proud to say we offer that, and if you look at the topic outlines for each year you’ll clearly how each year builds upon prior learning.
We regularly run writing competitions and attend visits to the theatre both in and out of London, giving students a number of opportunities to become more involved in the literary life of the school. In February, we take 40 students on a literary excursion to New York City. In addition, we have had talks from visiting authors, including Simon Mayo and Charlie Higson; the yearly entry into the BBC school’s news report is very popular, we take part in the Rotary Club ‘Youth Speaks’ competition. For those who like to work independently there are always poetry and short story writing competitions to enter via the Department Competition Board.
The study of English at Burnham Grammar School provides the gateway to future success; it is a subject which fosters creativity and debate and leads to excellence in communication of ideas. Wider reading is essential, both to enrich vocabulary and extend experience. In key stage three, the study of English literature provides a wealth of novels, plays and poetry whist the broad range of writing activities develops students sophisticated literacy skills. At BGS, we firmly believe that success at the higher levels is underpinned by a breadth and depth of knowledge and practice 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 further developed during GCSE, where students study for discreet qualifications in English Language and English Literature (EDEXCEL 1-9). There is no longer any coursework at GCSE level but students work toward a stand-alone Diploma in spoken communication, giving them a potential total of three qualifications. With the renewed emphasis on skills, rather than rote learning, we firmly believe that the structure and pace of the curriculum is vital to success. The range of skills required by the new examination is wide and varied, however our curriculum is designed to begin development of these in Year 7, so by the time students get to Year 9, and formally begin their GCSE study, they are already well prepared to meet the challenges offered. You can see from the curriculum outline just 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. 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. The subject is highly valued by universities because of its emphasis on independent learning, sophisticated writing and close analysis.
At BGS we do not stream or set students in English classes. We believe 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. To extend this we offer support through small group tutoring and high-level extension through our Aspire group, so that everyone meets their potential and has the tools for success. As all our English staff are subject specialists they are skilled in differentiating even the simplest task so that all students learn in the way that suits them best and make sustained progress.
As you can see the English department cares deeply about our students, not only seeing them as individuals with their own voice, but also supporting them through the way the curriculum is structured to provide challenge for students 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.
Tracy Wrycraft, Director of English
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 – Animal poetry and War poetry
Non-fiction writing – travel 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
An Inspector Calls
A Christmas Carol
The relationship 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 (Exam text provided by the school)
A Streetcar Named Desire (Exam text provided by the school)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Exam text provided by the school)
Dracula (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.
Don’t forget to check out the Book Clube – a google classroom run by Ms Clube offering advice and reviews on termly titles, all BGS students are entitled to join.
A full map of our curriculum for Year 7 to 13 can be found below.