Welcome to the English Department

Our Pittville School English and Film Studies Faculty is a dynamic team with a considerable breadth of knowledge and experience. We are committed to a collaborative approach to teaching and learning, and to the principle that we are all learners for life.

We firmly believe that programmes of study should be continually revisited and improved in response to current research and our students’ needs. As a result, we are at present engaged in a review of our Key Stage Three curriculum. Fundamental to this process is our conviction that students make the most progress when expectations are high. After all, children self-identify with the level of work anticipated of them. We want our young people to be challenged to go beyond their comfort zone in all aspects of their work. Of particular importance is reading, which research suggests has a crucial role to play in closing attainment gaps post-lockdown, so we are increasing the amount of curriculum time devoted to the enjoyment and exploration of a diverse range of full-length texts, classic and modern. We are also building our schemes of learning at Key Stage Three around challenging books: a stimulating, varied diet of novels, plays, poetry and non-fiction writing, which ensure that our students can meet the challenges of Key Stage Four and beyond with confidence.

Setting a high bar for all does not mean ignoring students’ varied needs. We regularly model successful responses in our lessons, providing scaffolds which are then gradually removed as students become increasingly confident and independent. In this way, all students are given opportunities to experience success.

Throughout Key Stages Three and Four, we adopt a holistic approach to teaching English so that oracy, reading, and writing are frequently taught side by side. At GCSE, our chosen exam board is AQA in both English Language and English Literature, and Eduqas for Film Studies.

As an illustration of our desire to set high expectations, texts which have recently been added to our schemes of learning include ‘The Odyssey’ in Year 7, ‘The War of the Worlds’ and ‘Lord of the Flies’ in Year 8, and ‘Dracula’ in Year 9. We expect all students to be in the habit of reading an additional book of their choice and, in this, students are supported by a well-stocked library and the knowledge and expertise of our school librarian.

We also believe that students’ understanding, and knowledge retention are improved when they are encouraged to make links in their learning. For instance, in Term 1, our Year 7 students will begin with a study of Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’, exploring the way character is created, and learning vocabulary such as hubris and hamartia. Later, they will build on this when they encounter Greek tragedy in a unit which lays the foundations for further work on Elizabethan, Jacobean, and then modern tragedy before the end of Year 9. In this way, Key Stage Three is used to broaden students’ horizons whilst building a strong platform for sustained progress.

Although patterns of assessment at GCSE prioritise reading and writing over speaking and listening, we are convinced that oracy skills are essential to students’ academic progress and success later in life. For this reason, regular opportunities are provided for collaborative work and students are taught to value talk, and to express themselves fluently and confidently. Our goal is to encourage the sort of rich dialogue that prompts further reflection beyond the classroom.

How can parents help?

Please encourage your child to read fiction texts regularly, and ideally, to read at the edge of their comfort zone. Encourage them to talk about their reading, with prompt questions such as:

  • How has the writer engaged you at the beginning of the text?
  • What is your favourite moment so far, and why?
  • How would you describe the style of the writing?
  • Can you identify any links with other books you have read?
  • Would you recommend the book to others? Why?

Encourage your child to be interested in the big issues of the day. Invite them to read sections of a quality weekend newspaper to keep in touch with current affairs including stories relating to the environment, society, and culture. This will help to prepare them for GCSE English Language Paper 2.

Please also encourage your child to talk to you about the texts they are studying in school. Students are strongly advised to explore alternative interpretations of the texts they read and develop their own views. Discussing the texts is a crucial step on the journey towards being able to write about them convincingly.

Please do not hesitate to contact staff directly if we can be of further help, for example with effective revision strategies.

Film Studies

“Cinema will make us all comprehend the things of this world as well as force us to recognise ourselves.” Louis Delluc 1890-1924

Pittville School is proud to offer the very popular option of GCSE Film Studies, which provides a solid and challenging academic foundation in Film alongside practical coursework projects.

Film dominates our media today, shaping many of our opinions about politics, gender and conflict. Film Studies encourages a critical, questioning approach to film, audiences, contexts and cultural influences.

The two-year course develops visual literacy through a variety of film texts. Students study a wide range of films, from Hollywood blockbusters to world cinema, from the ‘Golden Age’ to modern times. We also explore the film industry, marketing, and history. A significant practical component of creating a screenplay or movie extract underpins this knowledge and understanding.

Assessment is 70% examination and 30% coursework. We study six films in depth, and for coursework we create either a film extract or a screenplay together with an evaluation.

As a rigorous academic subject, GCSE Film Studies is an excellent basis for study post-16. The UK has now become the global centre of film production; especially here in the West of England, there are exciting opportunities in the industry, whether that be acting, film, TV, set design, sound, camera, lighting, screenplay, marketing, or business.

GCSE Film Studies is taught by Mrs McGee, who is the Curriculum Leader, and Mrs Wiggall. The department is well-resourced, with a dedicated Film Studies classroom and Mac suite so students can edit their own movies using iMovie and other tools.

How can parents support their child in Film Studies?

Talk to your child about films and encourage them to watch as wide a range of films as possible.

Encourage your child to keep their Film Journal, where they record the films they’ve watched, up to date.

Help your child keep up to date with their extended, individual projects and to manage their time effectively.

Having access to streaming platforms, such as Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Netflix would be very beneficial, although not essential.

Help your child to learn key film language and important, chronological industry events.