English teaches precision of communication and analytical thinking. We create students who are cogent, articulate and well-read.
The English Department instils a love of literature, of analytical thought, writing and skilful speaking - strengths which will serve pupils throughout their lives. It is important to us that girls enjoy their studies and pay rigorous attention to the practical skills necessary to read, write, and speak well.
We want pupils to read broadly and deeply in classic and modern novels, non-fiction, drama and poetry. Lower School and Middle School reading groups meet weekly. The Sixth Form IB Reading Group meets half-termly to discuss English, American and international literature in translation.
The Department has strong links with the Agenda Poetry journal and initiated the Agenda and Mayfield School Poetry Festival in 2012. Launched by the National Poet for Wales, Gillian Clarke, the Poetry Festival in October has become an important part of the Department’s unique offer giving students a rich understanding of live poets and contemporary poetry.
A Creative Writing Group meets to discuss ideas and experiment with writing in various forms. Creative Writing is highly valued and students enter a range of external competitions during the year.
Public Speaking and Debating takes place both within the classroom, but also formally and competitively in conjunction with the English Speaking Union.
Visits to London and Stratford to see major productions enrich the pupils’ experience.
Each summer Year 7 visit The Globe and watch a whole production of a Shakespeare play. The annual ‘Shakespeare off by heart…’ competition for girls in Years 7-10 is a highlight of the school year.
A level students attend conferences, talks and lectures on literary topics, ranging from ‘Understanding Narrative’, to ‘Rudyard Kipling’, ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Othello’.
In conjunction with the Library, authors visit to discuss their writing with students. Recent guests have included Sophia Bennett, Lucy Christopher and Linda Newberry.
Both English Language and English Literature are compulsory core subjects of the GCSE curriculum. At A level we offer English Literature – covering the period from 1300 to the present day.
After A levels, our students have gone on to study English Literature, Law or journalism-related subjects at universities including Oxford, Kings College, Bristol, UCL, Warwick, Durham, York and Exeter.