In the English and Drama Department, we strive for each student to leave us as confident, creative and original thinkers, writers and speakers. Through reading a variety of challenging and stimulating texts, we aim to offer an inclusive and diverse curriculum that broadens each student’s perspective of the world. We want to instil a love of literature and language across all key stages, developing confident, independent students, who are empathetic and aware of their social conscience. We recognise the immense benefits of reading, both for good mental health, and also for academic performance across the board; to this end we have designated library lessons using Accelerated Reader, and also a Discovery Reader curriculum in Year 7. The English and Drama teachers at RGS are passionate about reading, writing, speaking and performing; this is plain to see in our lessons, and through the rapport with our students. We want your son to take with him from RGS a deep-seated confidence in his ability to use language precisely and creatively, and we want to foster a love of reading that goes far beyond his academic goals.
English and Drama Years 7 to 9
In Years 7-9 boys study a wide range of literature: novels, poems, plays and modern media pieces. Students will read authors such as Dickens, Steinbeck, Sherriff, Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Shelley, to name a few. They are also guided to find their voices as writers, and as public speakers. In Key Stage 3 boys start to develop the analytical skills needed for success at GCSE: the knowledge of literary concepts required to fully understand the domain of Literature; and a confidence with the nuances of how language works, which enables them to read and write with expertise. The Key Stage 3 curriculum builds important foundational knowledge, such as an acquaintance with Romantic poetry, without pursuing an overly exam-based curriculum. We have found that the wider the knowledge base the students have, the more sensitive they can be to a writer’s choices and intentions. Key Stage 3 Drama is delivered to Year 8 and Year 9 as a practical subject. In Year 8, we focus on an introduction to drama skills, and Shakespeare. In Year 9, we study Willy Russell’s play Blood Brothers, with a focus on dramaturgical elements including overall design concepts, lighting and sound, as well as the performers’ use of vocal and physical skill to improve communication. The experience of Drama is also foundational for GCSE, as well as improving confidence, interpersonal and evaluative skills, and being creative.
In Year 10 students begin their formal GCSE course, leading to separate GCSEs in English Language and English Literature at the end of Year 11. We allow students to see drama texts in performance, ideally live in the theatre, when opportunities allow. Students study a range of literature, which currently includes an anthology of poetry entitled Power and Conflict (involving writing comparatively), Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Priestley’s play An Inspector Calls, and the nineteenth century novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The Language GCSE course involves reading and responding to unseen extracts (fiction, non-fiction, and nineteenth century literary fiction). Teachers help students develop confidence analysing a writer’s choices and intentions, even on previously ‘unseen’ extracts. Lastly, your son will develop his skill as a writer of fiction and non-fiction.
A Level (OCR)
In the Sixth Form, we offer A Level English Literature. Students currently study Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (in translation), Chaucer, and the Gothic genre for their exams, and 20th and 21st century texts for their coursework. Applying relevant contextual knowledge becomes even more important at A Level, along with an appreciation of different critical interpretations. We run a co-curricular opportunity called Vulture Society, where students can sign up to attend live theatre performances, broadening their cultural knowledge. This is open to all Sixth Form students (not just those on the A Level Literature course), and we hope to be able to restart this club as soon as government guidance allows.