Aim: To increase the number of students studying English Literature at A Level and beyond, and to offer a range of opportunities to support them in developing the skills and expertise to transition to these higher levels.
Background: Numbers taking A Level English Literature were low, and many pupils struggled with the transitions between Key Stage 4 and 5, and KS5 to degree level English.
Year 1: Schemes of work were planned to help students with the transition to A Level and to develop their skills from GCSE. Weekly focused writing skills sessions were introduced and seminar-style revision sessions were highly successful. Trips were planned to see The Prince’s Teaching Institute Annual Lecture and university lectures, and pupils were encouraged to post on existing online blogs and participate in online lectures. A number of displays and example lessons were given to introduce Year 11 students to A Level Literature.
Year 2: University-style teaching was integrated into Year 13, and the number of teachers per class was increased to allow teachers to teach to their specialisms. Classes were taught as lecture and seminar sessions, expecting reading to be completed outside class. A former Year 13 student who is re-sitting the year attended classes and acted as a teaching assistant. This has been highly successful for him and also benefits the class. Initial links were made with universities, and school alumni came in to discuss studying English at university. Students continued to have opportunities to go on trips to the theatre.
Year 3: A lecture series was offered to make use of and develop staff expertise, and a book club was started to promote wider reading among A Level students. Links with universities were consolidated and students attended a trip to Northampton University. Students were encouraged to develop their online blogs and a trial of Google Classroom was planned for the following year.
Evidence: Pupil focus groups, questionnaires and feedback, revision notes from seminars.
Impact: Year 11 students appreciated being able to look ahead to A Level and Year 12 students commented that the transition to Year 13 was now much less daunting. Seminar-style revision sessions were received very positively and students found the new style of teaching useful in bridging the gap to university. There has been a noticeable improvement in independent study skills and more students are now going on to study English at prestigious institutions.
Reflections: We are really proud of the progress the department has made and we feel that we offer wide-ranging, enriching opportunities that go beyond the classroom and take students into libraries, theatres and universities. Challenges have been gathering solid numerical data effectively, and keeping track of the project as it has been so wide ranging.