A musical based on the premise of a man masquerading as his substitute teacher friend, encouraging the pupils of a high-attaining independent school to forego their normal studies and, instead, aim to win a Battle of the Bands competition? Aside from the obvious child -protection issues and the lack of teacher professionalism on show, that idea is just not going to engage an audience for two hours… is it?
How wrong can you be! Bearsden Academy’s latest (almost literally) all-singing, all-dancing production is fantastic. Special mention must go to lead, Archie Morton, whose enthusiasm never flags, despite being in almost every scene. It is the music and singing that are really jaw-dropping, though: beautiful harmonies, a superb backing band and pin-sharp choreography make this a show that looks and sounds as good as any professional production I have seen in recent years.
Huge credit must go to the performers but also the army of teachers and pupils who filled all the off-stage roles and contributed to a hugely entertaining evening. It was very astute of Mr Millar and his team to choose a script which echoes the Cabinet Secretary for Education’s current message about schools looking beyond simple examination attainment and seeking to educate the whole child – quite what Mr Swinney would have thought of the broader anti-corporate ‘Stick it to the Man!’ theme, is another matter… But the 9-year old accompanying me was happy to shout that catchphrase to the rooftops – clear evidence that the show is a triumph!
Despite the aversion of some in the English Department to the portmanteau term ‘Webinar’, the University of Heriot-Watt’s online learning portal Scholar will be running a number of these for pupils studying at all levels of English over the coming months. Each Bearsden Academy pupil has been issued with a Scholar login and should be able to access these events remotely. Details and dates are as follows:
Tuesday 10 October, 6pm: National 5 Writing Portfolio
Tuesday 7 November, 6pm: Higher Writing Portfolio
Tuesday 14 November, 6pm: National 5 RUAE
Tuesday 5 December, 6pm: Higher RUAE
Tuesday 9 January, 6pm: Higher Critical Essay
Tuesday 16 January, 6pm: National 5 Critical Essay
Tuesday 6 February, 6pm: Higher Scottish Set Text
Tuesday 6 March, 6pm: Advanced Higher Literary Study Essay
Tuesday 27 March, 6pm: Advanced Higher Textual Analysis
Tuesday 17 April, 6pm: Higher Revision
Tuesday 1 May, 6pm: National 5 Revision
Advanced Higher English pupils paid a visit to Glasgow University Library last week and are now the proud owners of GU Library cards, allowing them to access the University’s collections for the remainder of this academic year. This will aid them in their research for Dissertations this year but also gave them a flavour of what to expect if they are heading for Higher Education next year or beyond (excellent modern facilities attended by very sleepy students, as far as I could see!).
The pupils engaged well with the resources on offer, behaved impeccably and were a credit to the school.
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!