Art is the nearest thing to life; it is a mode of amplifying experience and extending our contact with fellow men beyond the bounds of our personal lot.

George Eliot

…--that outreach of imagination, to feel your heart beat in someone else’s life

Sebastian Faulks

Our Values

Writing in different times and circumstances, the philosophies of Eliot and Faulks nevertheless cohere and sum up what we as teachers of English aim to achieve at Leweston. We strive not only to equip our students with essential skills in reading and writing but to engage their imaginations and truly inspire in them a love of literature that will stay with them for life.

Years 7, 8 and 9

Pupils study a wide range of texts including novels, modern plays, poetry, non-fiction and films. They are taught to respond critically and imaginatively and helped to develop their skills in both analytical and creative writing. With the help of the School Librarian they are also encouraged to read widely and to develop their personal tastes in literature. Each year pupils study a Shakespeare play but the emphasis is practical as we want our students to enjoy and be excited by plays that were written to be acted and seen.

Years 10 and 11

All students are prepared for GCSEs in English Language and English Literature. Students study both modern and heritage literature and are encouraged to read widely. They also learn to analyse the effects of language in a variety of non-fiction texts and develop their own skills in writing for different purposes and contexts. We place a high value on developing our students’ skills in speaking, including formal public speaking and debating. All girls are required to give a formal presentation to an audience as part of their GCSE.

Results in English have been consistently excellent.   We ensure that students are fully prepared for the demands of the assessments.  Equally important is our determination that students retain a sense of excitement and discovery in learning. Since September 2015 the GCSE courses have changed significantly. Our aim remains to address these changes with imagination and commitment to providing our students with inspirational and confidence-building experiences of language and literature.

Sixth Form

Students who choose to continue their studies of English at Leweston follow the Cambridge Pre-U Literature in English syllabus, an alternative to A Level. The scope of this course is wide with a combination of set text examinations and a critical analysis paper on ‘unseen’ extracts. Students are also required to write an extended essay or ‘Personal Investigation’ on four texts of their own choice. This aspect of the course in particular enables students to explore their own interests and they gain valuable experience of working truly independently at an advanced level in preparation for university. Results have been excellent and from our first cohort in 2011, each year at least one of our students has gained a place at Oxford or Cambridge.

Enrichment

Naturally, our aim of inspiring students with a life-long love of reading and appreciation of literature could not be achieved through academic work alone. Throughout their time at Leweston, students are offered a variety of activities which encourage them to develop their experiences of English. These include theatre and cinema visits, entering various local and national writing, public speaking and poetry recital competitions, and participating in Shakespeare workshops.

At the recent Sherborne Literary Festival prize-giving, the author, Ian Whybrow, who judged the children’s competitions, commented on our students’ evident and genuine engagement with narrative and language:- a huge compliment and further inspiration to continue our journey.

Suzanne Evans, Head of English