Introduction

Stretford Grammar School’s English Department is successful and highly experienced, staffed by a specialist team.  We offer AQA GCSE English Language and English Literature as well as A Levels in English Literature (AQA Spec B) and English Language (WJEC).

Meet the team:

Ms L. Yeomans        Head of English (favourite book: A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley.  Favourite book suitable for teenagers: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)

Mr. S. Howell         Second in English (favourite book: Any Human Heart by William Boyd. Favourite book suitable for teenagers: Scott’s Last Expedition by Robert Falconer)

Mr D Crowley          Teacher of English (favourite book: Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. Favourite book suitable for teenagers: Black Swan Green by David Mitchell)

Miss R. Lees            Teacher of Drama and English

Mr D Price-Uden      Teacher of English and Assistant Headteacher (favourite book: Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. Favourite book suitable for teenagers: Generation X by Douglas Coupland)

Dr. E. Quipp           Teacher of English (favourite book: American Pastoral by Philip Roth. Favourite book suitable for teenagers: The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

Ms L. Thornton       Teacher of Drama and English (favourite book: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Favourite book suitable for teenagers: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)

Miss E. Wood          Teacher of English and Deputy Headteacher (favourite book: Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. Favourite book suitable for teenagers: Kes by Barry Hines)

What will be taught?

English is a skills-based subject.  The course is designed to build on the skills established at KS2 in Primary school, and to extend and improve students’ ability to write using an increasingly wide and carefully selected variety of techniques, for a range of purposes and audiences.

Our texts are selected from a huge range of fiction and non-fiction, including plays, poems, novels, short stories, newspaper reports, magazine articles, web-pages and media texts.  Our goal is for pupils to become accomplished, critical and confident readers who can analyse and write effectively about writers’ skills.

We place great emphasis on speaking and listening skills, encouraging students to become cooperative and helpful participants in group discussions and building their confidence in more formal speaking situations as well as role plays and performance.

What happens in lessons?

English lessons are built around opportunities to discuss and share opinions and ideas with friends and peers.  There will be group work and other forms of active learning; students are expected to mark the work of other students and learn to be critical friends.  We place great value on marking, self-assessment and re-drafting of work in order to develop the necessary skills for excellence. We all believe that creativity and imagination provide the keys to success and we encourage students to bring to the classroom their own knowledge, life-experiences and beliefs.

What extra opportunities are there?

The English Department organises many theatre and cinema trips every year.  In the past three years we have been to see, amongst others: Private Peaceful, Frankenstein, The Great Gatsby, Dr Faustus, King Lear, Twelfth Night, An Inspector Calls, Of Mice and Men, Warhorse, John Hegley, Hamlet, Macbeth, Refugee Boy … and many many more.  We also organise creative writing trips and book groups for our A Level students.

Quotations from satisfied students:

“I like English because it can get you far in the real world.”

“I like reading new books with people, discussing different things and writing in different styles.”

“In English you learn about people’s lives.”

“I enjoy all of it!! I enjoy creative writing and talking about controversial subjects.”

“I really like learning about the past and social issues through text.”

“The teachers are really nice and you do really fun things.”

Organisation:

In Year 7 pupils are taught in their form groups; in years 8, 9, 10 and 11 they are mixed up into slightly smaller sets (with one top set group which is slightly bigger than the rest).  All year groups have seven periods of timetabled English a fortnight, although in Years 7, 8 and 9 one of these lessons is dedicated to Drama and will usually be with a different teacher.  Almost all classes have one dedicated English teacher and we usually aim to keep classes with the same teacher for two years at a time.

How can you help at home?

The question we are most frequently asked by parents is how they can support their child’s progress in English at home.  It’s really easy!  Below are some of our top tips:

  • Encourage and model good reading habits.  There is ample evidence that people who read regularly are happier, healthier, wealthier and wiser.  What’s not to like?  If your children see you reading, they’re more likely to read themselves.  If they can’t find a book they like, then encourage them to visit our wonderful school library, or take them to the local library yourself.
  • Buy a good newspaper at least once a week.  The weekend papers (The Sunday Times, The Saturday Guardian, The Observer, The Sunday Telegraph …) provide a week’s worth of non-fiction reading.
  • Talk to your child about what’s going on in the world.  In order to write something interesting, we first need to notice something and to have an opinion about it.
  • Encourage your child to have a hobby about which they can talk, write and be enthusiastic.  All these factors will stimulate their creativity and imagination.

What should my child be reading?

This is the second most frequently asked question!  The answer, in short, is anything at all, but if you’d like a little more guidance, then you could try www.teenreads.com which features an ‘ultimate reading list’ for teens. Encourage your child to discuss books with friends and to follow up on recommendations. A really good rule of thumb to determine if a book is suitable is to read the first page: if there are more than three words your child doesn’t understand then the book is probably going to be too hard!

All our English classrooms have ‘ideal bookshelves’ in them, which have been ‘stocked’ by KS3 students … these are another great place to get reading inspiration.