When asked by Polonius what he is reading, Hamlet responds: ‘Words, words, words’. Framing Hamlet’s utterance within grief-stricken Elsinore we suspect words have become meaningless for the heartbroken Prince. Alternatively, is it the case that Hamlet wishes to withhold the revelation of any personal truth from the newly crowned king he suspects of killing his father. Here, we are quickly in the realms of what it is to study language and literature.
It is to infer, to assign and to debate meaning and motivation. It is to become intimately acquainted with the power of nuance. It is to study the human condition and all its complexities and contradictions. It is to become more literate in our emotional DNA as ‘fellow travellers to the grave’. It is to learn to see a ‘world in a grain of sand’ and a ‘heaven in a wildflower’. In awakening a love of words and meaning, we hope it is to study what our young people ‘most affect’.
Like Hamlet, we know what it is to live through the ‘most lamentable’ of days. We know what it is to experience the failure of language. We know what it is to grasp for the right words and for our lexicon to prove inadequate and to feel glib. However, we also know that words are our gift to one another and to ourselves. We assert that words have medicinal properties and are capable of going so far as to quite literally saving lives. Our jester, Stephano, reminds us that ‘thought is free’ and so are words. They are our birth right and they are for everyone.
Our capacity for language is a facet of what makes each of us human. We embrace our responsibility to nourish and to nurture the tools of self-expression and articulation in all our young people and know that we impact their existing and lifelong equilibrium in doing so. In short, our young people will be happier and healthier because of ‘words, words, words’.
It is words that lie at the heart of our curriculum and fuel and fire our faculty to imagine – the very source of our humanity. Here, we stand with John Keats, Alan Turin, Edward Bond and countless other proponents of the imagination’s power and potential. We find maxim and efficacy in Touchstone’s wisdom that there is ‘much virtue in if’. As critics: ‘What happens if we consider the inherent subtext of a line or the magnitude of an irretractable confession once told?’ As writers in our own right: ‘What happens if I repeat this phrase or if I omit this word?’
Rightly and assuredly our attention and preoccupation is with words. ‘Words, words, words’. Words that have been bequeathed from our ancestors from book to book and lip to lip. Words that ‘eyes not yet created’ will forever read and vest value in. Words that are our vehicles to tell tales and that have always sat amongst our basic requirements for survival. As logophiles, we perform the privileged and multiple roles of custodians, conjurers and conduits in our quest to share our subject’s riches and deliver our young people’s entitlement as students and as human beings.
Key Stage 3
- Greek Mythology
- Oliver Twist
- Introduction to Shakespeare
- Norse Mythology
- ‘Animal Farm’
- Writing to Inspire
- Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’
- Short stories
- ‘Pink Mist’
- Unseen Poetry
- Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’
Key Stage 4
- Power and Conflict poetry
- Reading and Creative Writing
- Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’
- J.B. Priestley’s ‘An Inspector Calls’
- Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’
- Power and Conflict poetry
- Reading and Rhetoric
Year 10: National Theatre – ‘New Views’ Playwriting Group
‘The play’s the thing’ – Theatre trips
Recent theatre trips have included the New Theatre in Cardiff to see ‘An Inspector Calls’ and the Brewhouse Theatre in Taunton to see ‘The Sign of Four’. Plans to visit Shakespeare’s Globe are afoot for the future.
Many of our students have recently entered the Tacchi Morris Arts Centre’s annual writing competition: ‘The Page Is Printed’.
Recent one-off workshops have included poetry writing inspired by Kate Clanchy’s ‘How to Grow Your Own Poem’ and a session on investigative journalism.
Year 11: English Period 6
A space for all Year 11 students to revise for English exams with their class teacher/s. Sessions are bespoke to the needs of individual classes.