In English Literature we always study whole texts, reading novels, poetry and plays in their entirety as a whole class. As we read texts together we regularly pause to reflect on and discuss the language and ideas expressed. This is then followed by a detailed analysis and discussion of the key themes, context, characters and historical / cultural settings. Our fundamental aims are to expand pupil’s outlook and minds and help to foster a love of literature in each child.
Central to our study of English Literature and to the school’s educational approach is the development of self-awareness in each student. We believe this is the key to knowledge and development. When studying novels, plays and poems we are given a unique insight into the inner world of the characters and writers. And what does this reveal? It helps students to see that the inner experiences of humans are universal and always relatable to us as individuals. In every character we find an element of ourselves and we realise that we are not alone. Each text holds up an array of different mirrors and develops our self-awareness. Moreover the story shows us how to navigate our way through life’s journey, paths to avoid or follow. English Literature furnishes students with lessons in life.
'We read to know we are not alone.'
Expanding Perspectives and Thinking
We try to treat every text we study as a multi-layered web of ideas and perspectives that are deeply connected to each individual as well as the human collective. A novel is so much more than just a novel. When studying a text, particular emphasis is therefore given to the key themes expressed, incorporating philosophical, psychological and sociological ideas into our discussions and study. This introduces students to a whole new world of perspectives and concepts. Pupils are then encouraged to develop their thinking and critical analysis through in depth discussions where every pupil has a voice.
'It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.' S.I. Hayakawa
Appreciating Cultural Differences
Literature also gives us insights into other cultures, both geographical and historical. Students are encouraged to appreciate differences whilst at the same time realising that even the most remote culture and time contains characters and events that have their counterparts in our time and place. Texts are also often taught to compliment the History syllabus. So for example, students study some of the great 19th century novels by Dickens, Conrad and Wells when studying the 19th century history, or poets such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon when studying WW1.
English Literature and Drama
After studying some of the texts we have gone on to perform them as a school play. This has included productions of Animal Farm, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Birthday Party, An Inspector Calls as well as comic adaptations of fairy tales such as The Firebird and Rumplestiltskin. We also take the pupils on school trips to see theatre productions such as Romeo & Juliet, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, A Christmas Carol, An Inspector Calls etc…
English Literature Curriculum Outline
Here is a general outline of the type of texts studied at our school. Please note that this is principally a guide and is subject to change.