Our fundamental aim is to create in pupils the ability to respond with imagination and clarity to the rich complexities of English Language and Literature. To deepen their awareness and develop their expertise, we give pupils guidance, facilities and space. The pursuit of high-quality public examination results is a vital element of this teaching, but the fostering of a lifelong love of reading and writing is our greater ambition – Mrs Kate Ledlie, Head of English
Our motto e limitibus (beyond the limits) signifies our enthusiasm to extend pupils’ thinking and their engagement with literary and intellectual endeavour beyond the confines of subject and syllabus.
We want our pupils to think outside the box.
Events that fall outside the usual requirements of the syllabus will come under the aegis of the Literary Society. From theatre trips to Romantic poetry expeditions, from recitation to celebration, we aim to extend and stimulate. Our flagship initiative, The Critical Essay Prize, is testament to this ideal.
POETRY IN THE QUANTOCKS
Without a doubt, one of the best things we do: after AS exams, the LVI English pupils head for the Quantocks and two days of Romantic poetry. Stopping points include Nether Stowey, Porlock Weir, Culbone Church, and Tintern Abbey: we read together the great poems and the pupils write some of their own.
Early in September, at the start of the AS/A2 odyssey, the entire English Department and all its new Lower Sixth members de-camp to Stratford for a day of drama, poetry, good company and all things Shakespearian. We worship at the shrine of Shakespeare’s birth, kneel before his grave, spend two hours in a Royal Shakespeare Company drama workshop and, amongst other things, attend an evening performance; it is always a great day.
THE REMOVE RECITALS
Over the summer term every member of the Remove is required to learn and recite a poem of 12 lines or more. The best 16 go forward to the Remove Recitals, held annually in the sylvan grove that is The Tuckwell Theatre. An adjudicator listens to each of the finalists’ poems and their rendition of a piece of unseen prose.
SHAKESPEARE’S BIRTHDAY RECITALS
Shakespeare’s Birthday Recitals happen as close to the Bard’s birthday as is possible: the evening consists of excerpts from his plays and poetry, prepared mostly by the scholars themselves. These may be monologues, soliloquies, duologues, sonnets, group scenes…the list goes on! In previous years, we have had Launce and his dog Crab from The Two Gentlemen of Verona, the Mechanicals’ play from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, to name but a few!
Run by Mr Haslam, this encourages pupils to try their hand at any number of genres and styles.
Recent theatre trips include The Winter’s Tale at the Cheltenham Everyman Theatre.
POETRY, PROSE AND PORT
This annual event was launched in Michaelmas 2010 and is aimed at the Sixth Form. Pupils are encouraged to bring something along – poetry (their own perhaps), a passage from a novel / non-fiction text / literary critic, bring a friend and perform an excerpt from a play… anything that has fired them or that they enjoy – and to be ready to discuss it afterwards. The aim is to share our reading, explore new concepts and discover new writers.
Literature is dialogue; responsiveness.
STORIES OF OURSELVES, ANTHOLOGIES
Remove scholars were invited to design a front and back cover for an anthology of the Stories of Ourselves that they studied this term. The winning cover would be used on all subsequent Stories of Ourselves anthologies studied by Dean Close Remove scholars. The requirements were:
- One eye catching A4 front cover (it will need to have the title Stories of Ourselves on it somewhere)
- Back cover – this should include a blurb that ‘sells’ some or all of the short stories we have read.