The English Department inspires pupils to become life lovers of literature and confident, respectful communicators who are not afraid to voice their own opinion.
Mrs Griffith, Assistant Head
We study literature from the distant past to the present, by British writers and writers in English from across the globe. Our curriculum is always embracing new texts, new syllabuses and new cultural events. Pupils are encouraged to express themselves through creative writing at all levels of the School and the curriculum is enriched by varied and exciting theatre trips, lectures and workshops, writing competitions and debating and public speaking.
In the Lower School, we foster the emergence of each girl’s ‘voice’ as a writer, and we develop and extend the girls’ enthusiasm for reading and their skills as active readers. We want to encourage girls be reflective about what – and how – they write and read, and to know that what they want to express has value and purpose. To develop oral skills, all girls take an English Speaking Board examination (Senior Grade 1) and each year part of the curriculum is devised around a theatre trip.
At GCSE we go well beyond the confines of the syllabus. We maintain and develop girls’ enthusiasm for writing, their ability to listen to constructive criticism and confidence in their oral skills. In the second year of the course, we choose groups carefully to ensure diversity and a balance of ability, as experience tells us that their study of English works best when girls work in a spirit of co-operation and mutual support.
Every year girls leave the Sixth Form after A Level to study English Literature at the very best UK universities. They appreciate the freedom that the subject affords to develop their own ideas. Lessons are delivered in small groups and involve a great deal of discussion. Pupils also talk about their work individually with their teachers, particularly their coursework. They consider critical opinions of set works and the view texts in their social, cultural and economic contexts.
We take full advantage of cultural events locally in Bristol and also further afield in Stratford and London. One especially popular activity is public speaking. Girls get involved in competitions run by the Rotary Club, the English Speaking Union and Business & Professional Women UK. Unique to Bristol is the Gabblers, an after-dinner speaking competition for Lower Sixth students across Bristol. 20 schools are involved, and pupils meet over six dinners before speaking to an audience of around 200 people at the Grand Final.
The Dame Iris Murdoch Creative Writing Award was established in 1999 and the first award was made in 2000, with a Junior Award introduced in 2004. The competition is open to all girls, and the Award has established a strong tradition of creative writing at Badminton. Each year, the winning entries are added to a book of earlier winning pieces, illustrated with artworks by Badminton girls.