English

Ethos of the English Department:

At The Royal School we recognize that English is a core subject within the Northern Ireland Curriculum and that a central concern of all our teaching is to develop pupils’ abilities to use language in order to achieve his/her potential and develop self-esteem. We also recognize the importance language plays in the social, emotional and imaginative development of pupils.

Aims of the English Department:

  • To stimulate and maintain pupil interest and enjoyment of English.

  • To create an atmosphere where pupils wish to learn and enjoy English, where pupils are active participants in the learning process and where teachers enjoy teaching and, thus, give of their best.

  • To nurture confidence and bring a sense of achievement, by extending pupils to realize their full potential and strive towards the highest possible standards in all aspects of English.

  • To enable pupils to be familiar with a body of knowledge, principles and vocabulary in standard English.

  • To enable pupils to work independently and as part of a team in a variety of activities and to encourage them to see English as the major contributor to other skills, such as ICT.

  • To develop a love of literature through presentation of a wide range of stimulating texts and to foster each pupil’s ability to enable him/her to become an enthusiastic, confident and independent learner.

  • To encourage the development of critical appreciation of a full range of different reading material in relation to genre, purpose and audience and to encourage a lasting enjoyment of literature from a variety of cultures and traditions.

The Staff

Head of Department:

Mrs Lynn Montgomery – Teacher of English and English Literature to A Level

Other responsibilities: Literacy Coordinator, Communication Coordinator, SENCo, Adviser on Pastoral Care, Designated Teacher for Child Protection

Extra-curricular responsibilities: Production of the annual school musical, Scripture Union, CCF – Teacher in Charge of BTec

Assistant teachers:

Mrs Carol Day- Teacher of English and English Literature to A Level

Other responsibilities in the English Department: Adviser GCSE English Language (Mrs Day is a Senior Examiner for CCEA GCSE English Language)

Other responsibilities: Key Skills Coordinator, Careers Teacher

Extra-curricular responsibilities: Teacher in Charge of Debating and Public Speaking, Teacher in Charge of War Hammer Club

Mr John Jennings – Teacher of English to GCSE Level and French to A Level

Other responsibilities: Year Head, Teacher in Charge of External Examinations

Extra-curricular responsibilities: Rugby

Mrs Ross Miotti – Teacher of English and English Literature to A Level

Extra-curricular responsibilities: School play, Drama Club

Mrs Fiona Millar- Teacher of English to GCSE and Sociology to A Level

Other responsibilities in the English department: Teacher in Charge of the VLE, Teacher in Charge of the Book Club

Other responsibilities: Year Head, Senior Year Head, Editor of School magazine

Extra-curricular responsibilities: Debating, Scripture Union

An Overview of the English Department

In the first three years at The Royal School all pupils have six English periods of thirty five minutes each. During this time pupils are given a range of experiences; to read a variety of texts, to write in a range of styles and forms, to research, to use I.C.T. where appropriate, to draft and edit work and to develop critical skills. Each unit of work incorporates coursework and talking and listening activities which contribute to external examinations. Pupils gain confidence in expressing their views and from peer and self-evaluation of their work.

Good language and oral skills, as well as the development of more independent learning, are emphasized from Year 8. Regular home assignments are set along with class practice in oral and writing skills – see homework policy

Pupil tracking in KS3 was introduced in September 2012. Using CAT data, pupils receive a target grade for English in September of Year 8. Four common assessments are set, marking is standardized and progress monitored. Action plans are drawn up for pupils who fall two grades below their target grade or are consistently below their target grade.

Pupils also evaluate their own work and use Learning Logs to record areas for improvement before the next assessment. The Year Head and SENCo also have responsibility for monitoring grades.

At Key Stage 4 all pupils study English Language following the CCEA specification. There are usually four GCSE classes which are streamed very roughly using end of year examinations in Year 10. There is one GCSE English Literature class, following the CCEA syllabus (This is a change in 2010 – results were monitored and are well above the Northern Ireland average). This GCSE choice is becoming increasingly popular particularly among boys – this has been a departmental target over the last 3 years. The aim of the GCSE course is to enable pupils to develop both critical and creative skills as well as to enrich them culturally. Results in both English and English Literature are excellent well above the Northern Ireland grammar school average – results have been monitored closely after the change in specification)

At Key Stage 5 English Literature is a popular choice (numbers have doubled from an average of 10 per year to 21 in 2011). The English Department teaches the CCEA specification and there is one English Literature class in Year 13 and one class in Year 14.

All pupils are encouraged to read widely and to write for the school magazine and for literary competitions. A number of extra-curricular activities are linked to the teaching of English including Debating, Public Speaking, Book Club and Drama (includes a Year 8 tour of the Market Place Theatre). School trips are organized on a regular basis to the theatre which included a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon in 2010, a trip to the grand Opera House in Belfast to see Derek Jacobi in King Lear in 2011 and a trip to the Abbey Theatre in Dublin to see Juno and the Paycock in 2011; regular performances are attended at The Market Place Theatre including a performance of Juno and the Paycock in 2015 and we receive annual visits from two touring companies to perform Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth.

The Library

Reading for Enjoyment has been a departmental target for the academic year 2009/2010 and will be considered an area for ongoing development.

One period each week pupils are taken to the school library where they are encouraged to read a broad range of texts. This allocated period has a clear focus including devising Library projects and writing book reviews. Patterns of borrowing are monitored through data provided by the school librarian and parents receive regular communication on the reading habits of their children.

Pupils are provided with a book list which has been devised by the school librarian to advise pupils on reading material suitable for their age. In the academic year 2010/2011 reading lists will be added to the school diary.

Other schemes such as Readathon, World Poetry Day and World Book Day celebrations were introduced to encourage reading. In 2011 Mrs Millar set up a book club which includes regular visits to Waterstones’ Book Club in Belfast. Our pupils have been commended for their regular attendance and participation and have been afforded the honour of choosing books for the following month.

Careers Advice

Mrs Day has particular responsibility for careers in the department and is working on a careers’ display for the L corridor. Teachers in the department, however, work to promote skills which are important in the world of work and careers units have been incorporated into schemes – see Year 10 careers unit which includes job interview skills and letter of application.

Differentiation

Differentiation happens when there is planned intervention by the teacher, with the aim of helping individuals to reach their maximum potential based on their individual needs. This has been a whole school focus in 2014-2015 and it is the intention of the department to revisit schemes to ensure that difference is a focus.

Identifying pupils who need extra help – intervention

At the beginning of Year 8 baseline tests are used to identify pupils who are underachieving (have spelling/reading difficulties) –CAT tests were introduced for the academic year 2012/2013. From the beginning of the academic year 2012/2013 P.I.E. and NFER reading test were moved to the end of the year and repeated for each year group to ensure careful monitoring of progression. (This is a decision taken at SMT level). Parents in Year 8 receive a formal letter from the department reporting on NFER results and reading sytrageies.

A number of strategies have been put in place to ensure that pupils identified as underachievers are progressing and reach their full potential:

  • Monitoring by classroom teacher (Pupils who have 85-95 in baseline tests) From the beginning of the academic year 2012-2013 a specific action plan will be drawn up for pupils in Years 9 and 10)

  • Peer tutor scheme which has, since the academic year 2009/2010, placed a particular focus on reading. (pupils achieving 85-95 in baseline tests)

  • Reading Partnership Programme (pupils with below 85 in baseline tests)

  • From 2012-2013 other data accumulated throughout the key stages by the newly appointed data analyst was available to all staff and is compared against baseline results

  • Cat tests will be repeated in Year 11 and progress will be monitored by classroom teachers.

  • SIMs will be used as a tracking tool and 4 marks will be entered for each year to show progression.

Pupils at Key Stage 4 and 5 are encouraged to attend the school homework club or coursework clinics provided by the classroom teacher. Support is provided to individual pupils on demand. Easter classes have been introduced for pupils who require extra support in year 12 – these classes operate when required.

Extra-curricular activities linked to the English Department:

  • The school musical

  • The debating society

  • Book Club

  • The school magazine

Events linked to the English department

  • Theatre visits

  • A celebration of National Poetry Day

  • Book Buzz

  • A celebration of World Book Day

  • Year 8 prize winners’ trip to the QFT