English is studied by every pupil in the school. It combines study of literary texts and language work.
Julian Girdham, BA (Oxford University), HDipEd (Head of Department)
Liam Canning, BA (Dublin University), HDipEd
Kate Smith, BA (University College, Dublin), PGDipEd (Currently on leave)
Evan Jameson, BA (University College, Dublin), HDipEd
Emma Duggan, MA, PGCE.
Jean Morley, BA, PGDE
Patrick Tice, BA
All pupils are divided into English sets at random (so sets are not defined by ability). In almost every year there are five lessons a week. Occasional English as a Second Language classes can be offered, but it is expected that everyone taking standard classes can speak and write fluently.
In 2016-17 English became the first subject to take the new JCSA. The course starts in First Form, though there is no external assessment in this year. An oral assessment takes place in the final term of Second Form, encouraging individual expression and fluency. In Third Form another assessment is completed on a collection of texts, followed by an Assessment Task (10% of final grade) and there is a terminal state examination (90% of final grade).
The easiest way to see what is done for this state course is to go to the official JCSA site here – http://jct.ie/english/english
Generally, we aim to give a broad grounding in the basics of language and literature, partly through a wide variety of models, and in particular to enthuse our pupils to read a lot, and to think about what they read. This is a crucial element in the development of their own writing. In each of these years there is a weekly supervised reading class in the Library, during which pupils must read books associated with English. First and Second Forms are examined about their reading, and Third Form complete a major book report; all Junior Forms are also given suggested reading lists in association with the Library.
The TY course was the first in the College, starting in 1994; it focusses on substantial development of pupils’ writing and reading skills in this crucial year, bridging the considerable gap between the Junior and Leaving Certificates. This is a year when pupils are really stretched.
In the first term, pupils complete a major Extended Essay (of at least 3,000 words) on at least three different literary works by different authors. While teachers offer advice and guidance, the essay is nevertheless researched, organised and written completely by pupils themselves. In the second part of the course, they complete a Work Portfolio of shorter pieces (stories, personal descriptions, essays) which is submitted at the end of the year. Both the Extended Essay and the Work Portfolio develop the crucial skills of drafting and re-drafting.
During the year a Shakespeare play, a modern novel and a modern play are studied in class. In addition, pupils rotate to teachers other than their regular one in short courses on poetry (such as Yeats, Chaucer, Shakespeare, creative writing and the visual image in poetry) and the use of film.
At the end of the year at the TY English Evening the best Work Portfolio pieces are read out in front of peers, parents, next year’s TY, and a visiting expert, who comments on the pieces and on the nature of writing. In line with general College Transition Year policy, there are exams at the end of the first two terms.
All pupils sit the Leaving Certificate English exam, and almost all at Higher Level. There are two terminal papers, with equal marks given to Literature and Language. In the literature course, a Shakespeare play, three comparative texts and a substantial selection of poetry are studied over two years. Pupils also have to develop their skill in long and short essay form, and in comprehension, for the final paper.
The Department gives five awards each year: Senior English, Junior English, Senior Poetry, Junior Poetry and Knowledge of Shakespeare. Pupils also frequently compete in national competitions in poetry and essay-writing.
The Department established one of the first subject websites in Ireland in 2006, www.sccenglish.ie. Over the years this has showcased much pupil writing, as well as provided resources, as received several awards for innovation. Along with other subjects, iPads are used in the junior forms, and the internal Firefly system backs these up with resources, as well as for senior pupils. Online work is done extensively in Transition Year, particularly using G Suite for Education. The Department is also active on Twitter, and produces revision podcasts for pupils.
Department teachers are very much involved in drama productions, including the Senior and Junior plays. Periodically there is a production of a play by Shakespeare.
Theatre Expeditions & Lectures
The Department frequently takes pupils to the wide variety of theatrical productions in Dublin, such as, in the last two years ‘King Lear’, ‘Waiting for Godot’ and ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’. Pupils also go to author readings inside and outside school.
The Department often publishes its own textbooks for Junior and Senior Cycle. There are more details on www.sccenglish.ie.