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English @ Monkton

Friday, 26 May 2017

Year 9s at the Globe Theatre

Year 9s enjoy a day in London

The Year 9s spent the day in London watching a production of Romeo and Juliet at the stunning Globe Theatre in Southwark - what a day for it!

Comments on studying literature regarding the Holocaust

I'm hugely impressed by the way they are writing about the Holocaust - not just in terms of literary criticism but how the course (what with "To Kill a Mockingbird" as well) has developed their awareness, and attitudes and empathy etc.... Nice to see secondary education - even the most academic parts - being about so much more than just GCSEs!

And here is an example from one of our English students Jason Hau.

Despite the fact that both of the writers use their own ways to convey the horrible situations, they both try to give a similar message to readers. In “ Refugee Blues “, it says “ Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky. Hitler says over Europe, they must die”. The writer personifies Hitler’s command of killing all the Jews as rumbling of thunder, describing how petrified the Jews were facing such a big threat. Also, the word “Thunder” creates a threatening and frightening atmosphere. Thunder rumbling in the sky sounds like the Jews are being chased after, with nowhere to go. Also, the use of “must” seems like it is impossible for them to escape and they were hopeless. Moreover, it says “ In the village ….. grows an old yew, Every spring it blossoms anew”, it contrasts between the nature and the refugees as there is always a new hope in natural life. They renew in spring every year , unlike the refugees. This shows again how hopeless they were. At the same time, in “ The Last Night “, although it doesn’t say it is impossible to escape, you can imagine how difficult it would be to live in a concentration camp. In the concentration camp, the living environment was horrendous;they didn’t have much food and they had to live in a cramped room. The possible intended effect is to show how severe the situation was and the chance to get away from death is impossible.

B.R.E.I.S. visits Monkton

Students in all years were treated to a session with B.R.E.I.S. today - a rapper who helps students to find their voice through hip hop and rhythm. He was amazing and we are planning to invite him to come back and work with years 8&9 for National Poetry Day in September.

Visit to Venturer's Academy Bristol

Pupils on the Sensory Wall

Following on from our work on gaining empathy with students with autism in year 9, we went to Venturer's Academy in Bristol. The Monkton students had a great experience. They all played football outside and our students were great at making sure everyone could have a kick. They had a go on the sensory wall, saw some PE going on and read 1-2-1 with a child for about 15 minutes.

We also saw the emotion wall and discussed its importance.

The best moment for me was when we went into the orange room and there was some water play going on. One of the boys came over and gave us all a hug. Then he got our guys to jump on the spot, go round in circles and then lie down on the floor and crawl around.

Orange Room

Phillippa, Sam and Zak just joined in without question and the staff there commented on how wonderful it was that they just mixed in and got involved.

Orange Room

They were excellent ambassadors and we are looking forward to inviting the students from Venturer's to come over to Monkton for a return visit.

Venturer's Academy

Year 11 in trafalgar Square

We took the whole of yr 11 to London on Wednesday to see the RSC production of Much Ado About Nothing. Behind them in this picture is the fourth Trafalgar Square plinth which many of them have written about persuasively for their own ideas to be used - the current installation is a hand with an extended thumb....

OM gains PhD

We would like to offer our congratulations to OM Rachel Knighton who writes: "I have recently passed my PhD at the University of Cambridge, where I was a member of Girton College and based in the Faculty of English. My thesis, which I am now looking to publish as a monograph, focused on African prison memoir." A life-long love of literature! We couldn't be more delighted.

Carol Ann Duffy launches Monkton Poetry Trails

Carol Ann Duffy with pupils

The UK’s Poet Laureate has unveiled a brand new poetry trail near Bath as part of a visit to Monkton earlier in the month. Carol Ann Duffy met with students from the senior school and prep school as part of the special visit to launch the trail in Monkton Combe. The trail created by the school which winds its way around Monkton Combe village and the surrounding valley includes ‘poetry stop off points’ where visitors will discover silver coloured tins containing a notepad and pen. Passers-by are invited to jot down a few lines of poetry, or read the words of others who have already taken part in the trail.

Carol Ann Duffy said, “I think it’s a really inspired project to be able to go off on a walk and discover these notebooks which have been put out along the route and read what has been left there by people who have gone ahead of you, and also perhaps to write something. Even if not your own poem you could write your favourite poem, perhaps a piece of Shakespeare or Keats.”

Dowlnoad the first trail below, there will be more to follow.

Poetry Trail

Bustarhyme Competition

Bustarhyme competition

Well done to our 11 year 9 students whose work has been selected for publication in the Young Writers' Bustarhyme Competition!  For more information please click here.

Upcoming theatre trips

Almeida Hamlet

We are all very excited about our trip to see Hamlet at the Almeida in March...

Year 9 students will begin reading 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time' in January and we are very excited about our trip to see it at The Theatre Royal in Bath. Click here.

Much ado about nothing

Yr 11 students are about to study 'Much Ado About Nothing' and will be seeing the RSC production at the Haymarket in London on 22nd February.

Connell Guide's Essay Competiton

Students are encouraged to enter the prestigious Connell Guides Essay competition on the subject of their favourite villain in literature. Who will you choose?  For more inormation please click here.

Jane Eyre and the 19th Century Woman

Tasked with finding an interesting way to present how 19th century women are depicted in Jane Eyre, Billy Backhouse decided to use iambic pentameter....most of the time! A superb effort!

Jane Eyre and the 19th Century Woman

The role of women was to Charlotte B
As Ireland is to Heaney’s poetry:
Dead centre in the author’s canon lies
How 19th century women lived their lives.
Around this time the female writer grew:
Brontë, Evans, Gaskell are but a few.

Jane Eyre is crafted as a heroine
Rebellious from Gateshead to Ferndean.
Powerful men ‘gainst whom Jane finds voice
Are notable examples, like her choice
To leave the Reeds to go to school;
For a 19th Century orphan not at all
Th’expected manner. Her emotions, too,
Defy the norm of Eighteen Forty-Two.

Jane Eyre is much concerned with primal things:
Anger, vi’lence against the queens and kings
Who rule Jane’s world. For Charlotte, much advice
On how to write (from men). Brontë, though, thought twice.
The style of Austen was, to her, confined -
Her work explored just th’morally refined.
Brontë, on the other hand, explores
How girls are made for far more than just chores.

While Catherine Morland Henry Tilney woos
With words and phrases just a poet would use.
Brontë’s dialogue is rather pithier -
Some might describe it e’en as “Stichomythia”!
And thus to ears of men Jane fails to play
Submissive sounds: for Brontë, not the way
To represent her heroine. No sir!
Is Jane discreet, unquestioning? Not her!

Billy Backhouse



Following their trip to the battlefields of Northern France, our year 9 students wrote some poignant poetry and reflected on their experiences.

Loving Language @Monkton - 20 October 2016

Professor David Crystal

Students of English Language and English Literature were treated to a series of lectures by Professor David Crystal and Professor Jenny Cheshire on a variety of subjects. We were joined by students from 5 other schools in a packed chapel! A great experience.

Christopher Tower Poetry Competition

Christopher Tower Poetry Comp

Students are being encouraged to submit entries for the Christopher Tower Poetry competition (run in conjunction with Christ Church, Oxford).

Young Writers Bustarhyme Poetry Competition

The whole of year 9 had a poetry workshop on National Poetry Day with Mrs House and Mrs Wilkinson. The idea was to write a lyric poem on a topic they felt strongly about. The best efforts will be entered into the Young Writers 'Bustarhyme' poetry competition. Well done to all of those who got involved!

Rose Tremain - The Road Home

Year 10 have worked with an extract from Rose Tremain's 'The Road Home' to create this 'found poem'. This links in with the National Poetry Day theme of 'Messages'.

Road Home imageMy Message Home

I sat huddled
Staring out at the fields
Of sunflowers
Scorched by the dry wind
The wild garlic growing green

On the coach
Snores and sighs
I finally arrived in London
Barely a word - alone

I will break my back working
Hold myself apart from other people
Find corners and shadows
I don’t need to belong

My heart remains in my own country
Darkness falling outside
Darkness had always arrived
Same trees - summer or winter
I found no work

Red blankets
The remnants of a meal
Fierce little light
Faded old paperback
The yearning in my lungs
Fidgety, lonely, exhausting vigil
The dark, unravelling road.
I ached for the comfort of oblivion.

The English are lucky

Leaving Auror was
Hard and bitter

My time is coming.

Poetry and Prose workshop

This week, the whole of year 10 took part in a poetry and prose workshop together. In groups mixed across all sets, they thought about how to set enquiry questions and justified their choices from a range of texts. They had to 'pitch' their choices to another group and then prepare for the first part of their coursework: why have you chosen these extracts? Thanks to Mrs House for organising the event!

Poetry and prose workshop

Poetry and prose workshop

Celebrating Gatsby

gatsby pic

Yr 12 English Literature students enjoyed a Monday morning Great Gatsby party. 'Champagne' (Elderflower Water!), croissants, grapes and chocolate brownies helped to make the hedonistic experience come to life. We had a go at The Charleston, listened to 'Ain't We Got Fun' (and found out it wasn't fun at all), learnt about The Sheikh of Arabie and considered the context and etymology of speakeasies and 'blind tigers'. All in the spirit of immersive learning, the students emerged with a greater understanding of context and intertextual referencing. It was also quite good fun!

Success at Poetry Trials

Congratulations to Katrina Rose for her winning entry to the Young Writers Poetry Competition. Her work entitled 'Legacy' will be published shortly and will be entered into The Poetry Trials anthology. Read a copy of her poem here:

Year 12s visit the Pre-Prep

Year 12s visit the Pre-Prep

Year 12 English Language students enjoyed a great morning with students from year 2 at the Pre-Prep today. As part of their study of Child Language Acquisition, they listened to the children read and looked at their learning environment. The year 2 pupils were fantastically accommodating! A great opportunity for both year groups - ten years apart!

Loving Language @ Monkton

Loving Language course

The English Department are thrilled to announce that we will be joined by Professor David Crystal and Professor Jenny Cheshire on October 20th for a day of celebrating the English language.

Prof David Crystal, who has written over 36 books, is often in the press for his comments on our mother tongue. From his research on how texting improves children's writing and spelling, to his criticism of the recent KS2 tests where he insists that 'Exam board rules are wrong, wrong, and wrong'. What is wrong with the Oxford comma?

Prof Jenny Cheshire, from QMUL, has published many papers on the subject of language and age. Why doesn't it sound right to say 'innit' when you're over 30. Like, ever, d'you know what I mean?

Prof Cheshire will talk about language forms distinctly used by adolescents and consider why our language use changes as we get older.

We can't wait! All English students will be in attendance and we are hosting a number of other schools from across the country. Tickets will also be on sale to the general public via MrBs Emporium later this year.

The Learning Journey

English heads at Monkton

Heads of English from the Pre-Prep, Prep and Senior school met today to discuss the learning journey for Monkton students. We are looking forward to creating even better transition for our students!!

Ben Stupples (OM) visits to give talk on working as a journalist - April 2016

Ben Stupples with 6th Form English Language pupils

Monkton's 6th form English Language students received excellent advice this evening on how to start a career in journalism. Ben Stupples (OM) kindly travelled down early from work in London to deliver a talk about his route into the profession. Top tips included 'how to tailor to your audience' and some really useful 'do and don't' tips! Ben's talk was perfectly pitched for every student - regardless of their future career path. Thinking ahead about work experience, creating contacts and simply picking up the phone rather than emailing were just some of the top tips that students came away with. A huge thank you! 

Please visit Ben's website to find out more about his work by clicking here.

Trip to see Hamlet in Stratford - April 2016

Hamlet visit

Year 12 AS Literature students went to see 'Hamlet' in Stratford. The interpretation was colourful and rhythmic with music and inspiration taken from Ghana. We enjoyed a very interactive workshop with the actors in the morning and explored the use of music - which was underpinned by the iambic pentameter - and the character of Polonius. A great day with great students!

It was recently announced that the show will be transferring to the West End for another limited run. For more information about the show, please follow the link for the Harold Pinter Theatre production:

March 2016

Welcome to English @ Monkton - a new blog which gives a flavour of the activities the English Department have been up to this term.

February - A trip to the Bristol Old Vic to see 'Jane Eyre' - students were able to take a trip down memory lane by seeing a production of the text some studied at AS Level. It was a superb production!

lifesaving poems coverDr Anthony Wilson from Exeter University came to deliver a lecture on his collection of 'Lifesaving Poems'. Students said they found it genuinely 'uplifting' and one was said to have gone home 'buzzing'. Dr Wilson (OM) told his amazing story about the restorative powers of poetry, citing Monkton English Department as the place where his love for literature was ignited.

At least 15 students have crowded down to the English Department every Thursday evening for one of Wilko's Workshops. Help and reassurance has been provided for essays and coursework in all subjects. Well done to all those who took the initiative and came down to improve their own work!

On Wednesday March 16th, students logged on for an on-line discussion about their AS text, 'Hamlet'. Dr Lynn Robson from Regent's College, Oxford, answered queries from our students about Hamlet's angst and indecision. Victoria Volker asked some particularly searching questions

A2 English Language students have had sandwiches and studies at lunch times as they go over their AS topics together. Being able to look over old material will strengthen their ability to take the synoptic final paper - well done to all those who have taken the time to attend!

Looking forward:

Next term, we will welcome Ben Stupples (OM) to deliver our society lecture on journalism. Ben has just completed his Masters in Journalism and his work has been featured in The Guardian and other national publications.

RSC production of Hamlet
We will also be visiting the RSC  in Stratford to see the latest production of 'Hamlet' including a workshop with the actors before the performance begins. A great opportunity!

Leonardo di Caprio Gatsby

Mr John Jenkins will make a welcome return to the department in the Autumn to deliver a lecture on American Literature. Our current AS students are taking a module on this topic, and Mr Jenkins has a passion for this area of study - an obvious fit! He will talk about 'The Great Gatsby' and 'A Farewell to Arms' - the two texts our students are preparing for their final exam.

Helen Wilkinson
Head of English - Monkton Senior School

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