English & Media
Words are things: and a small drop of ink, falling like dew upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.
Students are taught in mixed-ability groups throughout their time at Hitchin Girls’ School.
The teaching of English, like all other subjects, requires the creation of a safe and disciplined environment within the classroom if effective learning is to take place.
The English department adopts a variety of approaches, including whole-class discussion, open and closed questioning, drama and using Information and Communications Technology.
Come along and join one of our lunchtime clubs!
Creative Writing Club - open to all year groups
GCSE Poetry Club – help with the unseen poetry and anthologies
KS3 Poetry Club - for students who love reading and writing poetry
Homework Club – open to Key Stages 3 and 4. Bring along the homework you need help with or an area you want to work on
A Level Literature Discussion Groups
English trips and competitions
Keep an eye on the English noticeboard in the Lower Block for details of our current trips, competitions and events.
Key Stage 3
Aims and rationale:
Building from the students' experiences at Key Stage 2, we aim to develop analytical and writing skills, progressing year-on-year as students are introduced to a growing range of texts and contexts. As students develop, both socially and experientially, we aim to provide lessons which deliver challenging and interesting texts and stimuli, fostering a love of learning, reading and language. We want our students to be real readers and real writers.
We aim to inspire our students with a rich and diverse experience of English at Key Stage 3, studying texts from our literary heritage including Shakespeare, as well as pre-and post-1900 poetry and prose. Through a challenging and motivating programme of study, our students are encouraged to become confident speakers, creative writers and active readers.
Our schemes of work allow students to explore different genres of literature, including fantasy and gothic fiction, and experiment with their own creative writing. Non-fiction texts are investigated through reading and writing skills, which allow students to develop the confidence to match their writing to an audience and a purpose. Students expand their experience of poetry each year to investigate form, language and cultural understanding, and to offer a critical analysis which prepares them for further study at GCSE. Topics are also introduced which are studied in Year 10, such as 19th-century literature, Shakespeare and persuasive opinion writing.
Finally, we aim to motivate independent reading through our active library lessons and through a range of class-shared novels in each year, from David Almond and Michael Morpurgo to Celia Rees and Phillip Pullman. Our aim is to encourage students to continue to read widely throughout their study of English at Hitchin Girls’ School.
Key Stage 4
At Key Stage 4, all students study English Language and English Literature GCSE. We follow the AQA specification. Pupils will study a range of texts, including a Shakespeare play (either 'Macbeth' or 'Romeo and Juliet'), a modern text (generally ‘Animal Farm’ or ‘An Inspector Calls’), a nineteenth-century novel (‘A Christmas Carol’ or ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’) and a selection of poetry. They also study a range of other texts in extract, both fiction and non-fiction, in preparation for the 'unseen' elements of their exams.
English develops the skills of reading, writing and spoken language. In their writing, students learn how to write creatively to describe and narrate, and to give viewpoints and opinions persuasively. They will also advance their use of grammar, vocabulary and punctuation.
All aspects of GCSE English Language and English Literature are assessed through examination at the end of the course, with the exception of the Spoken Language Non-Examined Assessment, where students will deliver a presentation that is assessed by teachers.
Students also have the option to take Media Studies GCSE. They study a range of media genres, including action-adventure films, situation comedies, newspapers, BBC news and advertising. The course is assessed through two written examinations and one piece of creative Non-Exam Assessment (NEA), which requires students to research, plan and produce their own media production in accordance with a brief set by the exam board. The Media NEA comprises 30% of the overall GCSE grade. This can lead on to Media A Level, which we also offer. The course offers considerable IT and creative content as well as developing the skill of writing analytical essays. We follow the WJEC EDUQAS specification for Media Studies.
Results at GCSE are consistently high in all three subjects. Many students choose to continue their studies to A Level.
In addition to the academic studies, there is a range of extra-curricular opportunities offered at Key Stage 4. These include Creative Writing Club, theatre trips, the Poetry Live! conference, revision clubs and writing competitions.
GCSE English Language:
GCSE English Literature:
GCSE Media Studies
Key Stage 5
At Key Stage 5, we offer three A Level subjects: English Literature, English Language, and Literature and Media Studies. All three are very popular subjects and all obtain very good results. Classes are taught between two teachers, who provide a pathway through the specification. The department chooses set texts and units depending on their experience, preferences and suitability for the group. Full details of the courses offered by the Hitchin Schools Sixth Form Consortium can be found here.
Results at A Level are consistently high in all three subjects. Many students choose to continue their studies to degree level.
In addition to the academic studies, there is a range of extra-curricular opportunities offered at Key Stage 5. These include theatre trips, supporting the Lower School English lessons, the Ambassadors scheme, and writing and media competitions.
A Level English Literature
Building on the skills learnt at GCSE in English Literature, students will study a range of texts through the ages at A Level. We use the AQA A specification, which is a historicist approach to Literature and consists of two exam papers and 20% NEA (coursework). Students will encounter a variety of stimulating, challenging and interesting texts and contexts, which will provoke much thought and discussion. Through close, contextualised analysis of poetry, prose and drama from the Medieval period through to the 21st century, students will gain confidence in making links and connections, and in writing critically and sensitively about the ways meanings are shaped in the texts. We aim to support students in developing their own critical voice and, of course, to nurture a lifelong love of reading.
A Level English Language and Literature
Building on the skills learnt at GCSE in English Language and English Literature, we aim for students to become confident in their literary and linguistic analysis of a range of spoken, written and multi-modal texts on a variety of interesting themes and issues. These include topics such as Writing About Society and Imagined Worlds. We focus on integrating literature and language, and students are assessed through a range of different styles, including re-creative writing and discursive essays. We encourage discussion, group work and independent study, and teach students to read critically, analyse, evaluate and undertake independent research, which are invaluable skills. We use the AQA specification.
A Level Media Studies
Media Studies at A Level aims to equip students with the skills to read and understand the role of the media in the world we live in. Through studying established and evolving media forms, our students will draw on their existing knowledge of the media but extend and develop their critical appreciation and understanding. Through close analysis of existing media products and study of media contexts and theories, they will also have exciting opportunities to create their own cross-media productions. We provide students with an understanding of the industry and audience issues in the media today and in the past, and encourage inquiry, debate and independent investigation of a rich variety of products and forms of the media.
Meet the team
The English and Media department teaching staff are:
Mrs Sarah Batchelor (Head of Department)
Mrs Sarah Sinclair (Second in Department)
Mr Kieran Balfe (also Drama)
Mrs Naomi Bunker
Mrs Rebecca Coe (also Classics)
Mrs Sohalla Kiani
Mrs Simi Labinjo
Ms Sangeetha Mani
Ms Olivia Marsh
Mrs Deborah Pearce
Miss Ellie de Wild
Mr Richard Cave (Assistant Headteacher)