Head of Department
Ruth Robinson (Head of Department)
Ruth has taught in a wide variety of schools: secondary moderns; comprehensive state schools; an independent girls’ school and most recently for 12 years at d’Overbroeck’s. She studied English Literature at Hull University (when Philip Larkin was the Librarian) and completed a PGCE at Cardiff University. She has also served as a magistrate for over twenty years; arguably the skills of chairing a court have helped in teaching a class, and possibly vice versa. (You would need to ask the students about this....)
About the English Department at Leckford Place
Jo Humphreys (Second in Department)
Jo read English Literature at Exeter College Oxford before studying for her PGCE at the Institute of Education in London and then going on to complete an MA in Education at the University of London. She has tutored on the Masters in Teaching qualification at the Institute of Education. She spent two years working at Tiffin Boys School in Kingston, and this is her fourth year at d’Overbroeck’s. Jo is a driving force in the school in helping students to improve their study skills and develop independent learning.
Emma read English at St Hilda’s college Oxford, before going on to UCL where she took an MA in Modern Literature and Culture, writing a PhD on Representations of Identity in alternative comic books. Emma is the mastermind behind the School magazine “d’Over the Moon” which is a marvellous celebration of many aspects of College life.
James is a graduate in English Literature from Edinburgh University, and has been teaching at d’Overbroeck’s for five years. James has enjoyed considerable success as an academic mentor, working with individual students to improve their confidence and ultimately their grades.
Our aim is to encourage a love of English in all of its manifestations, be it through reading and enjoying a wide range of literature, writing creatively and analytically, or communicating effectively in debate, discussion and individual presentations.
In Years 7, 8 and 9 we study at least one text each half term. The choice of text will range from Shakespeare to modern drama; from traditional poetry to modern work and short stories to novels. Language work will usually arise from the study of Literature; this is an area we are focussed on especially with the renewed emphasis on literacy at GCSE in all subjects.
A flavour of the texts that we might study in the early years:
Year 7: Shakespeare - Julius Caesar, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream; modern play scripts; poetry from The Dragon Book of Verse; Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. We also actively encourage wide individual reading for pleasure.
Year 8: Shakespeare - Othello, Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew; Dracula –a play script; A Christmas Carol; Animal Farm; Short Stories, modern poetry and poetry from the Literary Heritage.
Year 9: Shakespeare - Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing; Huxley’s Brave New World; Dickens’ Hard Times; Fleming’s Goldfinger; Sherriff’s Journey’s End; Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest; Shaw’s Pygmalion; Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black; a selection of poetry.
This list is neither exhaustive nor prescriptive and we are always adding texts.
Years 10 and 11: We are of course bound to follow the GCSE syllabus, but even so, we manage to include a wide range of Literature. Last year, texts studied included Othello, Richard 111, Twelfth Night; A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mr Pip, To Kill A Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, Under Milk Wood and An Inspector Calls.
We prepare pupils well for the exam and give weekly “mock” exams in the lead up to the real thing. This helps them to time answers and cope with writing under exam conditions. Students actually appreciated this approach and found it took away much of the anxiety of the Summer exam.
Small groups allow us to hear many debates, improvisations and presentations, all of which are assessed in the GCSE. The opportunity to participate in these frequently leads to high standards and a remarkable level of confidence – a skill that is key in life after School.
In the English Department, we run a variety of competitions - poetry recitations, debates, presentations, and a drama competition. We also encourage pupils to enter outside competitions - The Rotary Public Speaking Competitions, The English Speaking Union Competition, and the Oxford Union Debating Competition. Over the years we have achieved varying degrees of success but the actual process of competing in these School events and public events is wonderful formative experience.
Theatre trips are an important part of what we have to offer. Last year for example we took students to see a production of Under Milk Wood, Romeo and Juliet at the Globe; The Taming of the Shrew at the Globe; private showings of Much Ado About Nothing and Great Expectations at the Phoenix Cinema, and Poetry Live, where poets read and discussed their poetry to GCSE Literature students.There are also English-related lunch-time activities: Debating Club; Creative Writing Club and Boot Camp for those who want to improve literacy skills.