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English

Head of Department: W Burn.
Email: william.burn@epsomcollege.org.uk

The English Department offers the Edexcel IGCSE, believing firmly that this highly regarded course offers the very best foundation for University study in all disciplines and life beyond formal education.

In the M4 year, students engage with an extensive range of literature, studying all genres and being introduced to some of the main literary movements. They undertake written work of all varieties - creative, analytical, journalistic - some project work and an exciting range of oral activities. The M4 English classroom is always an energetic and exciting place to be. This prepares students very effectively for their IGCSE course as well as ensuring that we exploit and enjoy this year in which no public examination demands are made of them.

The U4 sees the start of the IGSCE literature and language courses, an exciting programme which suits our students excellently. Its rigorous nature and wide variety of set texts mean that a genuinely full grounding in English Literature can be gained. Alongside this, the English Language course provides truly practical training in reading and writing skills, preparing students effectively for life beyond the classroom.

The English Department staff's specialisms are wide-ranging, allowing students access to the very best guidance in their preparatory work.

The English Department also believes very strongly in engaging the cultural appetites of the Epsom College student body. It runs theatre trips, organises visits to author forums and literary seminars and encourages students to value their literary and cultural heritage by engaging actively with it.

Follow the links below to learn more about English at Epsom College.

Courses

Lower School

In the Third Form and Lower Fourth students immerse themselves in writing from across history, seeking to emulate the styles and methods of the greatest writers. From Simon Armitage's Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, students will read texts which have shaped the world we inhabit and then learn to write like those masters of their craft. Through re-drafting, exhaustive attention to detail and a belief that writing well matters deeply, our students will produce polished, substantial work of which they can be proud.

Grammar is taught through the study of writing and we place great emphasis on the importance of learning poetry so that our students build up a rich store of language on which to draw throughout their lives.

The final component of the Lower School English course is the ‘Trivium' lesson, which serves two important functions. Firstly, students spend time reading quietly, immersing themselves in the printed word, away from screens and distractions. Reading peacefully, being alone with one's thoughts is not only a pleasure, but essential to help students make sense of the world they inhabit. Secondly, they learn to be confident, articulate public speakers through a range of activities, including debating, discussion and talks.

M4 English Course

This is a crucial year for our pupils as they lay down the academic foundations on which they will build at IGCSE and beyond. Although the Department revels in the freedom of opportunity afforded by the M4 year, before the exigencies of examinations commence, we are keenly aware of the need to respect the major requirements of the National Curriculum in order to prepare pupils effectively for the two-year IGCSE course. To this end, we endeavour to make sure that specific language skills are covered and that all our pupils have experience of texts that are substantial and challenging in terms of ideas and use of language.

All students begin the year by studying prose fiction from different genres and periods, before moving on to poetry and drama (including Shakespeare) in the Lent term. The M4 poetry project is an exciting programme of independent study which exploits the Library's outstanding poetry collection. The project takes poetry out of the classroom and affirms the joy of reading it for pleasure; students respond creatively and critically, each finding their own inspiration and areas of interest.

The summer term builds on this by working on skills in unseen analysis. All students have the opportunity to take part in the Dodd Public Speaking Competition.

Assessment is carried out at regular intervals during the M4 year upon completion of each unit. The results of these assessments will be used in conjunction with the final Summer Examination to determine a final year end mark.

As a complement to the literature explored in class, the English Department strives to ensure that all members of M4 are reading independently and ambitiously. Teachers will help pupils to choose suitable books from a wide range of challenging fiction - classics and contemporary texts, fiction and non-fiction - and will allow time in class for pupils to read and discuss their chosen book.

IGCSE

From September 2016, we will offer the Edexcel IGCSE courses in English (A) and English Literature.

Edexcel English (A) is a wide-ranging, exciting course which teaches students to become critical readers and effective writers. The course combines study of literary non-fiction, such as travel writing by Benjamin Zephania and George Alagiah, as well as literary fiction and poetry by writers as diverse as Shakespeare and Susan Hill. Students also learn to write in different forms and for different audiences: one week they may be crafting an eerie piece ghost story; the next, polishing up a fiery political speech.

The Edexcel Literature IGCSE follows the pattern of the Language course, by inviting students to engage with the best literature written in English in the past 500 years. In addition to studying a Shakespeare play, students will also read modern drama, such as Miller's A View from the Bridge, as well as poetry from different centuries and continents. The course includes the study of unseen poetry, which helps students become confident readers of literature from all periods.

Both courses are assessed through terminal examinations at the end of the 5th Form.

Pre-U

The English Department offers the Cambridge Pre-U course in English Literature. This two-year course is a prestigious alternative to conventional A-levels, giving students chance to study the best writing in English without the pressure of exams after only one year of study. The two-year format allows students time to develop, acquiring the knowledge and skills they will need to be successful in the exams at the end of the Upper Sixth. Having this time means teachers can work with students as individuals, helping them overcome weaknesses and build on their strengths.

The Lower-Sixth year begins with the study of texts chosen to help students make the transition from IGCSE to Pre-U. We introduce new ways of reading, placing texts in their historical and literary contexts, as well as honing skills in close reading and analysis. There is an exam in January, testing skills in analysis of an unseen poem. Thereafter we introduce set texts, which range from Chaucer to Margaret Atwood, and begin preparing students for the Personal Investigation.

The Personal Investigation is a 3,000 word piece of original research which compares two texts by different writers. Students are free to choose their own topics, and teachers guide them in developing lines of inquiry and the skills needed to manage the task. Students relish the freedom to explore their own interests, and produce work on topics as diverse as modern reinterpretations of fairy tales and identity in post-colonial Indian writing. The unique freedoms and challenges of the Personal Investigation are an outstanding preparation for university study.

Students sit three examinations at the end of the Upper Sixth: a drama paper on two plays, one by Shakespeare; a poetry and prose paper, where one of the two texts must have been written before 1900; and an unseen paper, testing skills in critical appreciation and analysis.

The exam board's brochure for parents can be found here

Core Curriculum

For students who want to develop advanced skills in writing and spoken English, the department offers Core Curriculum English in the Sixth Form. This develops skills in persuasive and argumentative writing to a level far beyond IGCSE. Students analyse how writers seek to manipulate their readers, understanding the rhetorical devices employed to sway a reader to their point of view.

The department follows the Advanced Placement course in English Language and Composition, which is the equivalent of an AS-level. This course is unique in its focus on helping students become better writers, and is quite distinct from AS English Language courses, whose focus is on the study of language in wider contexts. It is a natural progression from IGCSE and is suitable as well for scientists as humanities specialists, and makes excellent preparation for university study.

In addition to this, students prepare for the English Speaking Board Level 3 certificate in spoken English. This is the equivalent of a Grade 8 music exam, and demonstrates students' ability to speak fluently and confidently in different contexts. The English Speaking Board is a widely respected body whose qualifications are highly regarded by universities and businesses.


 

Department Staff

Head of Department
W Burn BA (Lond)

Department Teaching Staff

Miss N G Bubbear BA (Newcastle)

Mrs C E Jeens MA (Soton)

Ms T St Clair-Ford BA (Cantab), MA (Chichester)

Dr E Eliott Lockhart BA (Texas), MPhil (Cantab), MPhil (Columbia), PhD (Columbia)

J Piggot BA (Cardiff), MA (Liverpool)

N Russell MA (Liverpool)

Miss S H Wilson BA (Nottingham)

R M Wycherley, BA (Leeds)

Theatre Trips

The proximity of London and several repertory theatres - Orange Tree, Richmond, Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford, etc - makes it possible to introduce English sets to live theatre. This is an essential element of the English students' experience and should be encouraged. It is also a crucial element of the students' overall cultural experience and education and the Department hopes that trips will cause as little disruption as possible but that, where disruption to other activities is unavoidable, members of the school will be understanding.

IGCSE and 6th Form pupils should attend, where feasible, performances of set texts - Shakespeare in particular - though the educational benefits of seeing any play should be borne in mind.

Academic Prizes

Dodd Speech Prizes
Dodd Speech Prizes are awarded separately, one to each year group, for best performance in a formal debate. This is currently organised by the Head of Department and volunteers as an event to which parents are invited.

Claude Calthrop Essay Prize
This is awarded to a member of the Lower School. The prize is awarded to a pupil who has achieved an exceptionally high standard in their coursework.

Barford Essay Prize
This is awarded to a member of the English Sixth form for an essay on a topic set in second half of the Lent Term and handed in at the start of the Summer Term.

Rosebery Literature Prize
This is awarded to a member of the English Sixth Form for academic excellence and achievement during the Upper Sixth year, on the basis of recommendations by members of the Department.

John Ingram Poetry Prizes
Awarded to:
• A member of the Sixth Form.
• A member of the Fifth Form.
• A member of the Upper Fourth Form.
• A member of the Middle Fourth Form.