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 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.
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…
Every year, the Scottish Book Trust organises the very successful Scottish Children’s Book Awards.
Three books are selected from each category and young people from across Scotland are asked to read the books and vote for their favourite.
This year, the school library’s Puffin Book Group has decided to participate in these awards by reading the titles in the ‘Older Readers’ category (ages 12-16). These are:
‘The Wall’ by William Sutcliffe
‘Dark Spell’ by Gill Arbuthnott
‘Mosi’s War’ by Cathy McPhail
All three of the above books will be read and discussed by the book group. They will have until 6th February to cast their vote for their favourite. The winning author in each category will be announced at an exciting awards ceremony in Edinburgh on Wednesday 4th March, 2015.
Reviews written by members of the group after the jump!
The English Department and a number of senior pupils have attended a variety of different plays recently. From Dundee to Giffnock, drama loving pupils have been lucky to see ‘The Glass Menagerie’, ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Macbeth’ over the past two months. We even managed to bump into the Drama Department at the Citizens during ‘Hamlet’…
The benefits of seeing a play pupils are studying is enormous (especially Shakespeare), as the characters are brought to life and the key themes are played out in front of them. More trips will be organised this session when theatres release their spring performances and we would recommend that all pupils get involved and expand their horizons. Keep an eye out for some pupil reviews of these plays on the English Department Blog: bearsdeneng.wordpress.com
Here’s a fun (but pretty unscientific) way to find out how long it would take you to read all of the ‘Game of Thrones’ series:
Although the test itself might not be completely accurate, it proves the very important point that, no matter how fast or slow a reader you are, just 10-20 minutes of reading every day will allow you to read a significant number of books over a whole year. And as everyone knows, those who regularly read for pleasure benefit in loads of different ways:
Brain function boosted days after reading a novel
Reading for pleasure puts children ahead
Literary fiction improves empathy