The Roedean English Department is committed to certain significant ideals.
The Department is dedicated to ensuring that all Roedean students are creative, analytical, eloquent, and critically thoughtful.
Creative writing is an important component of the English syllabus, and students are encouraged to explore their own thoughts in a variety of different creative genres: narrative, descriptive, reflective, discursive, and argumentative writing are all taught and practised. In our age of burgeoning means of communication, the I.E.B. also places emphasis on functional writing – editorials, obituaries, letters to the press, eMail, etc.
In the teaching of creative writing, the English Department encourages students to aim to achieve the ideal of Henry James – to capture “felt life” in their writing. Roedean English teachers also strive to ensure that pupils write in “prose clear as a window pane”, to use George Orwell’s wonderful phrase.
Literary studies are central to the English syllabus, and choices of texts range from Steinbeck to J. M. Coetzee. Canonical texts are emphasized and students tackle a Shakespeare every year – from Lower V onwards. The Department’s teaching of literature emphasises context, style, and reader response. Teachers train students in the skill of informed appreciation, teaching them to write literary essays in which ideas are always substantiated by thorough textual analysis, based on very close reading.
Accuracy and clarity of expression are stressed in every section of the English syllabus. Formal grammar is taught, but never as a separate discipline. The Department’s aim is to teach language in action and to show students how to interrogate all language, questioning how and why language influences and even manipulates us. The language of political oratory, of advertising, and of propaganda is closely studied in the English syllabus.
Visual literacy is an exciting section of the syllabus, and I.E.B. teachers are given the opportunity to teach a variety of films. Cinematic techniques are emphasized, and pupils are taught to use the correct terminology in visual analysis, and to write with precision and insight.
The aim of all English teaching at Roedean is to ensure that the students learn to think critically, to appreciate literature, and to express themselves lucidly.