Our vibrant and dynamic English Department aspires to engender a love for the written and spoken word and fundamentally believes in the power of literature to engage young minds. English is taught in a relaxed, friendly, open-classroom atmosphere based on the foundations of good discipline, high expectations and hard work.
The department provides something for everyone. From etymology to exegesis, we offer the full range of linguistic and literary opportunities.
AIMS OF ENGLISH DEPARTMENT
- To develop pupils’ written and verbal communication skills
- To encourage pupils to read texts with an enquiring mind, enabling them to analyse in detail and with sensitivity
- To enthuse and inspire pupils, fostering a love of reading
How English is taught at Hampton
In the First to Third Years, English teaching takes place in ‘mixed ability’ form groups. In the Fourth and Fifth Year, boys are setted into smaller teaching groups of around 16 based on ability. Pupils are offered every opportunity to stretch and challenge themselves in the smaller groups under the guidance of their teacher.
English Language IGCSE focuses on pupils’ reading and writing skills, developing their ability to understand, collate and explain explicit and implicit meanings, as well as helping them to articulate opinions and feelings using language and register appropriate to audience and context. There are both analytical and creative elements to the CIE IGCSE specification, assessed entirely through external exams. English Literature IGCSE offers the opportunity to study a variety of literature in English, including contemporary texts and global literature. The literary heritage is also well represented, with both Shakespeare and pre 1914 poetry featuring in the curriculum.
A Level English Literature, alongside the A Level English Language course, retains its high prestige among universities and is well served by the highly qualified teachers at Hampton. There is a real focus on the importance of the essay as a means to explore texts and we offer writing clinics on a weekly basis to help Hamptonians hone their skills. We are also keen to further reading and scrutiny beyond the syllabus and pupils are encouraged to participate in discussion groups at A Level. Whilst English Literature A Level allows boys to acquire a more nuanced appreciation of literary texts, their contexts and others’ interpretations of them, English Language A Level seeks to broaden the pupils’ knowledge of the nature and effectiveness of communication in English, focusing on linguistics and therefore introducing boys to an entirely new field of study. Boys learn about issues relating to gender and power, as well as studying children’s acquisition of language and the history of the English language. Both courses provide excellent opportunities for pupils to hone their interpretative and analytical skills, as well as developing their spoken and written communication.
There is no setting at A Level and we tend to limit the size of each group to a maximum of fourteen students, in order to ensure that discussion work and preparation are as efficient as possible. Extension lessons are provided for those with the intention of studying English beyond A Level.
In the First to Third Year, pupils have a reading lesson every week where they are given the opportunity to read independently. Each half term, they choose a text to read from a given genre and then complete a written task to demonstrate their understanding of, and engagement with, their chosen book. Genres include science fiction, dystopia, world literature and humour, with activities including writing an imaginary interview with the author, a persuasive website article and a poem from the perspective of a character. We end the year with oracy-based tasks, such as balloon debates and producing a short film promoting a particular genre.
In the First and Second Year, Booster Lessons run concurrently with Reading Lessons, providing extra help with topics such as written accuracy, synonyms, embedding quotations and structuring paragraphs. Those Hamptonians who attend these sessions benefit greatly, improving their understanding and writing, and gaining confidence. A Spelling Enhancement Programme is also offered to First Year pupils selected through the School’s screening procedures. At GCSE level, four new classes are created to enable us to teach pupils in smaller classes and to focus more closely on the needs of the individual pupils.
The English Department offers weekly lunchtime enrichment sessions on critical theory, topics and texts beyond the syllabus for pupils who are studying English Literature in the Sixth Form and is aimed specifically at those who are thinking of applying for Oxbridge or English at university, or just extending their knowledge. The session is also hugely useful for work done throughout the A Level course and so all boys are encouraged to attend. The sessions cover a whole range of literary topics; for example, we engage with a wide range of critical theories, such as Marxism, Feminism, Psychoanalysis and Socio-historicism – subsequently applying them to various texts – and also develop an understanding of the history of literature, practise unseen skills, work on interview technique and explore many other areas of interest.