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In essence, English aims to elevate pupils’ confidence in the use of words, be they spoken or written, to articulate thoughts, emotions and to make meaning.
Ultimately it is the power to express ourselves which makes us human and connects us to others, enabling us to develop social bonds and relationships. Studying English develops the knowledge of self, others and the world. Universities and employers alike value those with strong English skills as such people are likely to have higher level thinking, communication and problem solving skills.
We share our love of literature, ranging from contemporary writing to the classics in the hope that pupils will also engage in life-long independent reading. Younger pupils are given regular library lessons to foster good reading habits.
A range of teaching methods, groupings and resources are employed to engage pupils. We have good facilities with the full range of audio-visual equipment, including Smart Boards. All pupils have iPads which provide opportunities for collaborative learning, presentations and research tasks.
In F1-3 pupils are encouraged to study the full range of literary genres: poetry, prose and drama. They also engage enthusiastically in the study of media texts. Pupils also produce a range of writing to cover: short stories, personal reflective writing and discursive or persuasive texts. Through engaging in individual and group talks, presentations and role-plays, pupils develop their ability to speak articulately.
The vast majority of pupils study English up until the end of F5. At both National 5 and Higher levels, pupils are expected to write a folio, consisting of two pieces of work from different genres; (one broadly creative, the other discursive). They will also be presented for two external exams. The first exam, Reading for Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation, tests close reading and comprehension skills. The second exam involves textual analysis of Scottish texts and a critical essay. Texts are chosen which are appropriate to the level of study and reflect the individual teacher’s interests.
Some pupils will then choose to study English at Advanced Higher level involving coursework (in the form of a dissertation and a folio) and an exam (consisting of unseen textual analysis and a challenging literary study essay question).
Some members of the English team also mark for the SQA Exam Board at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher levels which is useful in providing extra training and professional development opportunities.
"Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity.”
Beyond the classroom, members of the English Department enjoy making a significant contribution ranging from rugby coaching, to back stage support with school productions, to providing a 'Young Speakers' club. We seek to develop pupils’ self-expression by encouraging them to write for 'The Columns' (our monthly pupil-led newsletter), 'The Review' (our Annual Magazine) and 'The Kwyll' (our collection of pupils’ creative work). Pupils also enter various nationwide writing competitions such as Scottish Writer of the Year and the Pushkin Prize and are often highly successful.
We run two internal competitions: a Speaking Competition, in which pupils select a topic of their own choice to present to their peers, and a Burns Recitation Competition, in which pupils learn a Burns’ poem and recite it in memory of Tom Durrheim, who previously taught with us at the High School.
Theatre visits also feature regularly with pupils having had the opportunity to see: 'A Street Car Named Desire', 'As You Like It', 'Wicked', and 'A Christmas Carol' in recent times.
We seek to make the study of English a full and enjoyable experience for all pupils at The High School of Dundee.