The recent television adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ was hugely successful at this week’s Emmy Awards ceremony in the USA. It won a slew of awards, including Best Drama and Best Actress for its lead, Elizabeth Moss. The author joined the cast onstage at the ceremony and received a standing ovation.
The TV series is an outstanding (though disturbing) piece of work; perhaps unsurprising, since it is based on an outstanding (though disturbing) novel. We are too often disappointed, though, by inferior film or television adaptations of excellent novels (‘Northern Lights’/’The Golden Compass’ can be your starter for ten) so should revel in this one – unless, of course, you are currently studying the novel in our Advanced Higher class, in which case, you are forbidden from watching the TV series!
This creative writing competition seeks a piece of between 800 and 2000 words, inspired by any aspect of the past – an actual historical event, place or person. The piece can be in any genre (prose, poetry or drama) – it just needs to be set in a time before you were born. There are two age categories – 11 to 15 and 16 to 19 – and the winners receive a travel and research grant to further explore historical places (with runners-up prizes of £100 book tokens). The closing date is 31st October 2017 and full details can be found on the website http://www.walterscottprize.co.uk/young-walter-scott-prize/
If you would like advice or feedback on a piece of writing for the competition then please see Mr Corbett in the English Department.
The ‘For Parents’ section of the Blog has now been updated with refreshed information on Course Outlines and Timelines. This is particularly important for National 5 as there are changes to the course which come into force for the first time this academic year.
Whilst the school as a whole has managed to maintain very high standards in terms of examination results, the English Department itself has had an exceptional year:
in Advanced Higher we have had our highest ever number of A grades (56% of candidates presented);
at Higher, too, we have had our best ever number of A grades (47% of candidates presented);
and at National 5 our proportion of A grades has risen to its highest ever level (56% of the S4 cohort).
Well done to all of our successful candidates from the 2016/17 Senior Phase.
Right, here is my list of books read this summer – what were yours?
Particular favourites were The Long Drop (a gripping recreation of a real murder case from 1950s Glasgow), A Man in Love (where professional miseryguts Karl Ove Knausgaard continues to write beautifully about his only occasionally beautiful life) and The Power (which is not quite the new Handmaid’s Tale, as some suggest, but is clever, funny and hard to put down).
As our new S5 and S6 pupils get ready to return to school following Study Leave, the English Department says ‘Welcome Back’; but also ‘Get Ready’.
It may be June and the sun may be shining (I said ‘may’!) but, whichever English course you are about to start, there is significant work to be done before the end of term. Whether it’s preparing for an Advanced Higher Dissertation or researching for a Higher or National 5 Folio essay, work done now will directly impact on your final award next year. Let’s see you get stuck in for the next three weeks!
Good luck to all of our candidates sitting the English Higher or Advanced Higher examination tomorrow and to National 5 candidates who have their examination on Friday. No fancy pep talks at this stage, just the wise words of Nelson Mandela: ‘It always seems impossible until it is done.’
You can do it!
All senior English classes are now working to finalise Folio pieces for submission to the SQA. Each pupil must have two pieces of the appropriate genre submitted to their English teacher by the following deadline:
National 5 – Friday 17th March
Higher – Friday 24th March
Advanced Higher – Friday 28th April
Folios will be despatched to the SQA shortly after each of these dates.
All senior pupils have now gone through a target-setting exercise where they have focused on their Prelim performance and identified key areas for revision and improvement in the final examination. Each pupil has taken home a sheet with these targets which can be shared with parents/carers.
Kirsty Logan, an award-winning Scottish writer, recently visited Bearsden Academy to help develop our creative thoughts, especially in relation to magical-realism.
As pupils who have already studied her short story, ‘Una and Coll are Not Friends,’ her unique methods of creative writing brought a new perspective to most Advanced Higher English pupils. Her knowledge and history of magical-realism helped us develop ideas which we will later use for creative pieces. According to one pupil she, “brought new ideas to the challenging topic of creative writing.”
Her main technique was to take an object or abstract idea and picture a world where there was either an abundance of this said item, or a lack of it. From there, we wrote short stories or introductions about worlds where this happened, which resulted in obscure and interesting ideas.
Overall, it was an enjoyable experience which most pupils benefited from. Many thanks to Mr Corbett and the rest of the English Department for arranging this creative writing workshop.
Lara Loh, Advanced Higher English