Background: A Level numbers had been dropping across the school generally, and English uptake at AS and retention into A2 had been decreasing. The department also wanted to try to develop in students a more independent and proactive approach to learning.
Year 1: A borough-wide collaborative network of English departments was created, and Gumley House hosted meetings to discuss joint targets, ways to approach the curriculum and possible collaborative opportunities.
Year 2: This year was about maintaining links with other schools and deepening collaboration. The first annual teacher/student conference was held to give students access to a range of expertise. This included an external speaker, Q&A sessions with former pupils who had studied English at university and workshops planned by teachers. 157 students from across the network attended. Teaching resources were shared and meetings held to support newly qualified teachers (NQTs) teaching AS Level English for the first time. Mock university interviews were held in the spring term.
Year 3: Teacher meetings across the network continued and ongoing NQT mentoring was planned. Teachers from schools within the network volunteered to run workshops at the annual teacher/student conference, which was attended by 109 students.
Year 4: It had become increasingly difficult to maintain the network with other schools, so the focus switched to teaching practice within the school and exposing students to the range of teaching and learning strategies that had been developed over the previous three years. Collaborative approaches to lesson planning continued, as did mentoring for a new teacher, who achieved very positive results. Students were given opportunities to attend several external conferences, exhibitions and performances. They were also encouraged to stretch themselves by delivering lectures/seminars to their peers, which have proved extremely popular.
Evidence: A Level results analysis, student evaluations and feedback, English Conference programmes, lecture handouts.
Impact: Data from student feedback showed that they enjoyed the lectures and felt challenged and stretched by both lectures and workshops. They have particularly enjoyed hearing from former students about their experiences studying English at university. In both AS and A2 there is an upward trend in results, and at AS the intake is on an upward trend.
Reflections: We are particularly interested in continuing to develop the Sixth Form talks and perhaps expanding these to include year 11s to encourage them to take English at A level. There have also been suggestions that parents who are experts in their field would be willing to come in to deliver talks, both within the discipline of English literature and on other topics.
Contact: Kathryn Nedeljkovic, firstname.lastname@example.org