English is an enormously popular subject at Fort Pitt. The department offers courses in English and English Literature up to GCSE level. Every girl is entered to higher level in each subject. At A-level, English Literature is one of the most thriving subjects in the school. All teachers are specialists; several of them are, or have been, examiners. Pupils are encouraged to enjoy literature and to read widely.
The English Department offers a number of enrichment activities to enhance pupils’ achievement and enjoyment of the subject.
- Scrabble Club – weekly. Open to all year groups and staff!
- Creative writing club – weekly. Open to all year groups. Pupils are introduced to a number of different techniques and are encouraged to experiment with their writing.
- Reading Clubs. There are three separate reading groups, one for KS3, one for KS4 and one for KS5. The groups meet approximately once a month and discuss their most recent text.
Teachers also offer classes support at lunchtimes and after school to help pupils with different assessments.
The department offers a number of theatre trips throughout the year, linked to the texts being studied. Past trips have taken students to see the National Theatre’s production of Othello at the cinema and the acclaimed performance of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House in London.
The department regularly invites theatre groups to come in and offer engaging and eventful activities.
The department also runs whole-school events to do with National Poetry Day and World Book Day.
The department offers a number of different competitions throughout the year, such as a Dickens reading competition for an annually-awarded trophy, National Poetry Day and World Book Day competitions, just to name a few.
Subject Leader: Mr A Holmes (email@example.com)
Key Stage 3
In KS3, students study a wide and enriching range of texts.
Year 7 begins with an Autobiography Unit, which capitalises on their most vivid and evocative memories and experiences. They will learn how to use more adventurous vocabulary and sentence structures, and be able to experiment with figurative language. Also, they will study how the media presents the news, which involves a reading investigation and speaking and listening challenge, whereby students create and perform their own televised news stories, via the medium of drama and role play. In the past, students have analysed Private ‘Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo, Holes by Louis Sachar, and My Swordhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick, plus many other challenging novels. Students study a class novel, features of Gothic tales and poems from other cultures. On top of all this, they enjoy an exciting introduction to the works of William Shakespeare – plus much more besides!
In Year 8, students will start by exploring how writers use imaginative language to great effect; they will learn how novelists grip and entertain the reader and complete a creative writing piece of their own. Furthermore, students will also study a wide range of poetry and study Shakespeare texts such as ‘Twelfth Night’. The aim of Year 8 is to help students work towards bridging the gap between KS3 and KS4. For example, the Non-fiction Unit and Speaking and Listening Unit require students to overcome challenges and develop the skills needed for transition to planning and writing GCSE responses in timed examination conditions
GCSE English language and literature
Exam Board: AQA
The GCSE English Literature and GCSE English Language courses at Fort Pitt are taught in a way that draws out the very best from our students. We encourage the reading of full texts and give students time to consolidate their knowledge and skills. We are aware that students need to develop into mature and confident readers and writers in order to excel in this subject. The motivation behind the three-year GCSE course is simple: to inspire and motivate students to really enjoy literature and language, and to give them the time they need to fulfil their potential.
From Year 9 – 11 your daughter will study the following:
Writer’s viewpoints and Perspectives
The aim of this unit is to develop students’ insights into how writers have particular viewpoints and perspectives on issues or themes that are important to the way we think and live our lives. We encourage students to demonstrate their skills by reading sources from different time periods and genres, in order to consider how each presents a perspective or viewpoint to influence the reader, as well as producing their own written texts to a specified audience, purpose and form in which they give their own perspective on certain themes and topics. Throughout the course there will also be opportunities to write to present a viewpoint to address the demands of Language Paper 2.
In year 9 we lay down the foundations for the literature examination, exposing students early on to poetry that they won’t have seen before. Students will read and study the AQA Power and Conflict Anthology. Skills of comparison, analysis, exploration of language, and enjoyment of poetry are fostered in this unit. Students will complete practice assignments on the poetry, and the skill of comparison will become our focus in preparation for the examination at the end of Year 11.
Students will read a full Shakespeare text selected by their teacher; popular choices are Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth. Important skills are assessed here include: independent analysis of language, independent planning, essay writing, identifying features of genre and important aspects of context. . Throughout the course there will also be opportunities to produce creative written responses, to address the demands of Language Paper 1.
Modern prose or drama
Students will be reading from a range of texts including Animal Farm and Inspector Calls, to prepare them for the literature examination. Through their detailed study of this text they will better appreciate the writer’s craft including character, theme, setting and genre. Students will also learn how to place a text in historical context and consider how writers are influenced by changes in society. Throughout the course there will also be opportunities to write to present a viewpoint, to address the demands of Language Paper 2.
19th Century Novel
Students will read a 19th Century text for their literature examination; popular choices include: Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein and Great Expectations. Through their detailed study of the text they will better appreciate the writer’s craft including character, theme, setting and genre. Students will learn how to place a text in historical context and consider how writers are influenced by changes in society. The 19th Century novel is read in Year 10 and revisited and revised in Year 11. Throughout the course there will also be opportunities to produce creative written responses, to address the demands of Language Paper 1.
The anthology is revisited and revised in Year 10 with increased confidence and maturity, building upon the introduction to it in Year 9. Students will also prepare responses to unseen poetry, which they will also be required to compare in the examination. Literary terms and their effects will be revised and student will build a useful resource for Poetry Revision
A range of ‘unseen’ 20th – 21st century literary prose fiction is explored In preparation for Paper 1 of the examination. Specifically: key sections of novels or short stories, openings, descriptions of characters and places will be explored, enabling students to feel more comfortable with texts from different eras and honing their skills of analysis and comparison for examination.
The Shakespeare text is revisited and revised in Year 10 with increased insight and understanding, building upon the introduction to it in Year 9. Students will complete practice assignments on the Shakespeare text, and the student’s knowledge and understanding of the text as a whole will become our focus in preparation for the examination at the end of Year 11.
By Year 11 students will have read all the texts, plays and poetry they will need for their closed-book examination. The aim for this year is for teachers to revise and prepare for both English Literature and Language examinations.
Shakespeare and the 19th Century Novel
- Shakespeare plays
- The 19th-century novel
Modern texts and Poetry
- Modern prose or drama texts
- The poetry anthology/ preparing to analyse unseen poetry
Paper 1 – Exploring Creative Reading and Writing
- Reading and responding to one literature fiction text.
- Producing descriptive or narrative writing from a given stimulus.
Paper 2 – Writer’s viewpoints and Perspectives
- Responding to and comparing one non-fiction text and one literary non-fiction text
- Writing to present a viewpoint.
Key Stage 5
Exam Board: AQA
Students are entered for AQA English Literature Specification A and will study a range of poetry, prose and drama throughout the course. English Literature at A-Level is a very popular subject taught by an experienced team of teachers. Candidates are expected to read widely and will at times need to work independently
AS English Literature
In Year 12 pupils will study Victorian literature.
Pupils will complete two pieces of coursework, which in total will amount to 2000-2500 words, equating to 40% of their total AS grade. One piece of coursework is focused on comparing two drama texts, e.g. A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen and Mrs. Warren’s Profession by George Bernard Shaw. The other piece focuses on a novel, e.g. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.
The examination makes up the remaining 60% of a student’s AS grade, is two hours long, and again focuses on Victorian literature. The paper is split up into two sections and candidates will be required to answer one question in each section only.
Section A has the heading “Contextual Linking” and makes up half the marks of the paper. Pupils will be given a short extract related to the area of study (e.g. from a work of criticism, diary, letter, biography, cultural commentary). Pupils will then have to draw upon their wider reading from the Victorian era and their knowledge of the time period to respond to the extract. Pupils will study a range of Victorian literature throughout the year, such as Dickens, Hardy and Oscar Wilde.
Section B is focused on poetry. Pupils will have studied one of the following poets:
Selected Poems, John Clare (Everyman)
Selected Poems, The Brontës, ed. Norris (Everyman)
Selected Poems, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, ed. Baron (Everyman)
There will be a choice of two questions on each set poetry text. Pupils answer one question. One of the two questions will foreground one particular poem and its relation to the whole text; the other will provide a view about the poems for pupils to discuss. Pupils are allowed to take an unannotated copy of the poems into the examination.
A2 English Literature
In year 13 pupils will study love in literature from Chaucer to modern day texts.
Pupils will write an extended comparative essay on three different texts. One text must be Shakespeare, e.g. Othello, while the other two texts will be wider reading texts of any genre. Pupils will study two texts with their teacher: Shakespeare’s Othello and Dickens’s Great Expectations or Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights; they will select the third text themselves. The third text can be of any genre or time period (not before Chaucer). Popular choices have included The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Colour Purple by Alice Walker, Enduring Love and Atonement by Ian McEwan, the plays All my Sons and A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller, A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, and Sylvia Plath and Carol Ann Duffy’s poetry.
The topic for this examination is ‘Love through the Ages’. The examination will take the form of a two-and-a-half-hour written examination. The paper will contain four unseen items. There will be two compulsory questions to answer. Each question will be marked out of 40. Question 1 will require pupils to compare two items of the same genre. This question will require the close reading of the texts as well as reference to wider reading on the theme of love within the same genre as the items. Question 2 will invite candidates to compare two items (of the remaining two genres). Pupils will use their wider reading on the theme of love through literature to inform their interpretations.
For their wider reading pupils will study a range of prose, poetry and drama, such as Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Chaucer, Rossetti, Carol Ann Duffy and many others.