Head of Department: Mrs Joanne West
Our overriding aims for Key Stage 3 are to foster a love of reading and to develop expertise in writing; throughout the year groups, girls are taught to read critically and to write precisely.
All pupils in Remove to Upper Fourth are taught in mixed ability classes. Each unit has two formally assessed common tasks that allow us to track progress and aid learning.
Removes study a unit on autobiography, detective and mystery fiction, poetry and an introduction to Shakespeare. In Remove, Shakespeare’s plays are presented by genre and here girls are introduced to tenets of Shakespearean comedy, tragedy, history plays and romances. They all have Microsoft Surfaces to use as a tool in lessons alongside their exercise books and folders.
The Lower Fourth study a unit on Language skills, Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ or ‘Oliver Twist’ play version, followed by ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. Students have two terms of study in place of the usual three as they spend a term in Veyrines, France.
The Upper Fourth (Year 9) is used to develop many of the skills that are essential for GCSE. Students study ‘Of Mice and Men’ followed by a play such as ‘Educating Rita’ or ‘Death of A Salesman’ in term one. Language practice is achieved by the study of non-fiction texts such as Mrs Beeton’s ‘Household management’ alongside a Michelle O’Bama’s speech. ‘Romeo and Juliet’ or ‘The Merchant of Venice’ is our Shakespeare text studied in full as a rehearsal for GCSE Literature. The summer term is dedicated to poetry and oral work with a colloborative project with the Religious Studies department.
In the Lower Fifth and Upper Fifth (Years 10 and 11), girls are prepared for AQA GCSE English Language (8700) and AQA GCSE English Literature (8702). For the literature course, we currently study ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Pride and Prejudice’, ‘An Inspector Calls’ and a selection of verse.
Our Sixth Formers follow AQA English Literature syllabus A. The set texts studied for examination at the end of the two year course are ‘Othello’; ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’; ‘Wuthering Heights’ or ‘A Room with a View’; ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ or ‘Top Girls’; ‘Skirrid Hill’ (Sheers) or ‘Feminine Gospels’ (Duffy); a selection of love poetry. There is also scope for a range of other texts to be taught as part of the girls’ studies: for the coursework (non exam assessment) which is assessed via a comparative academic essay of 3,000 words, girls read widely in a shared area of study; the area that will be studied is dystopian literature.
We also prepare girls for entrance to Oxford and Cambridge. As well as offering individual tutorial support for this, we offer a term-long series of seminars, which are run mainly by members of the department; girls also attend events and open days at Oxford and Cambridge.
Girls from every year group are encouraged to make the most of a range of opportunities including author talks, debating and the creative writing club as well as to enter both school and national creative writing and essay competitions.
Full details of the curriculum are available in the GCSE and Sixth Form options publications. Further information about the teaching and learning of English may be obtained by contacting the Head of Department, Mrs Joanne West email@example.com.
Mrs West has been teaching for twenty-two years in a variety of contexts and is a former AQA examiner. She is a keen advocator of the school’s ethos of encouraging each girl to develop and make the most of her individual strengths. She also drives the department philosophy of promoting all forms of literacy; reading, writing and speaking and listening. The department aims to give the girls the tools to flourish in later life and become lifelong independent learners.
Mr Bartholomew has also taught for twenty-two years and has plenty of teaching experience both in the UK and abroad. He is a qualified EAL teacher and current AQA examiner. Mr Bartholomew is a keen proponent of literacy throughout the school curriculum and he is currently looking at strategies to promote this further.
Dr Atherton is Head of Oxbridge and the Elective Programme. He currently runs sessions with Sixth Form on English at University and mentors our Oxbridge applicants for English.
Former Head of Department, Mrs Harrington has many years of experience working as a teacher. Wuthering Heights is her favourite novel and she is a keen champion of reading fiction at all ages.
Mr Owen has over forty years of classroom experience. He has a wealth of knowledge and expertise that students and staff are able to draw from!
Miss McLachlan is the newest member of the department, joining the English team full time from September 2019. She graduated from the University of Nottingham with a First Class Honours degree. Her favourite book is The Deep Blue Sea by Terence Rattigan.
Rev’d Platt is a part-time teacher alongside her role as Chaplain. She taught for many years before becoming a chaplain fifteen years ago. She is keen for students to enjoy English and develop a joy of reading for pleasure.
Mrs Masters is a part-time teacher alongside her role as Housemistress of Aisholt. She joined us very recently after a long period teaching in the United Arab Emirates. She is very keen to start teaching in September 2019 and be creative with learning.
Mrs Boswell is currently on maternity leave, but due to return this December as a full-time teacher of English. Terry Pratchett is her favourite author.
Mrs Mears-Smith is also on maternity and due to return in late October to teach part-time as well as take up her role as a Housemistress. Birdsong and Alice in Wonderland are among her favourite reads.
The best way to find out more about Downe House, is to come and experience it for yourself – arrange a visit or join us for one of our Open Mornings?Discover