Age 11-14

The fundamental aim of the English Department is to foster a life-long love of literature in every St James girl.  We want every pupil to go out into the world as an individual who appreciates the nuances of language and expresses themselves with confidence.  Care is taken to present inspiring material to the girls and all pupils are encouraged to analyse and evaluate what they read. They learn to develop the skills of accurate writing and find their own creative voice.  We recognise that each girl will have a unique relationship with the written word and we encourage them to explore this through exposure to great literature and the ideas which define English Literature and Language as disciplines.

The English Department consists of three members of staff.  Each year, pupils study a range of texts from the three major literary genres of poetry, prose and drama.  Close reading, contextual awareness and analytical thinking are all skills at the core of the Key Stage Three curriculum.  The pupils are also given a foundation in English grammar and the opportunity to engage with non-fiction texts.  The department is keen to foster independent reading and study.  For Years 7 and 8 there is project work in the Summer Term with Year 7 producing a project on the life and work of William Shakespeare and Year 8 undertaking a study of literary heritage. Strong emphasis is always placed on handwriting, spelling and the presentation of the girls’ work.

We work closely with the Library on events that celebrate literature in the daily life of the school.  Creative writing is developed both within the curriculum and beyond it as pupils are entered for a number of competitions, including the Independent Schools Association Annual Essay Competition in which several girls have been successful.  The English Department is also passionate about opportunities for debate and public speaking. There is an annual School Debating Competition, and either a Public Speaking or Poetry Competition which take place on a rotational basis.  These events are an opportunity to celebrate clarity of thought and the creative exploration of ideas which the English Department uphold as essential to learning.  The department also organises theatre trips, visits and workshops during the year.