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
Here it is, then: the pile from this summer which, whilst higher than last year’s, was still not good enough to surpass that of an English teacher from a rival school. Curses. Anyway, I particularly enjoyed The Vegetarian (not just because I am one), Submission (which is shocking, at times, but hugely engaging if you have any interest in politics and Europe) and both The Past and Look at Me (novels which effortlessly make you care about the characters within them). Praise, too, for The Lie Tree, a fantastic historical adventure which should appeal to any young teen.
It’s a shame that work sometimes gets in the way of more reading for pleasure…
Ok… so… I suppose the pictures above suggest that I lost the Summer Reading Challenge… but only by volume. I won on quality because I got to read another brilliant Donna Tartt book. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)
I managed to get in quite a bit of reading between festivities over the holidays and this was the stand-out book. The first remarkable thing about it is that the book is only being noticed and talked about now: it was first published in 1965 but turned up on many best-of-2013 book lists. The second remarkable thing helps to explain the first: the subject of this novel is a fairly ordinary man leading a pretty unremarkable life so it is no surprise that some people have ignored it, until now; however, the description of that life and how the writer gets you to care deeply about the protagonist, William Stoner, is fantastic. From the excruciating meeting with potential in-laws, through the petty academic squabbles of working life to the heart-breaking conclusion, Williams’ writes sparely but beautifully. I highly recommend it.
HEALTH WARNING: this book is not about drugs!