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Orchard School Bristol

English 

Through the beauty of literature and the wonder of language, we seek to inspire a true appreciation of the English Language in all of it forms, and the power of language to influence and reflect the world around us. The ability to read, write, and communicate effectively is not only an essential life skill but also something that empowers individuals. We want our students to be confident in expressing their own opinions and in listening and responding to the opinions of others, to read critically and with purpose, but also for pleasure, and to use these skills to nurture their creativity and thirst for knowledge as lifelong learners. In short, we want our students to leave us in year 11 as confident communicators, lifelong readers, and engaging writers, who are able to utilise the power of language to help them to achieve their own goals and aspirations. 

Staff Profiles

  • Ms Laura Clash, BA (Hons), MSt, PGCE -  Head of Faculty

I graduated from the University of Oxford with a first class degree in English Language and Literature, and a Masters in Medieval English Literature.  I’m particularly interested in the representation of gender politics and identity in literature, as well as how writers grapple with the socio-historical context in their texts.  I am passionate about developing an ambitious, diverse and inspirational curriculum that enables students to become confident and creative readers and writers.

  • Miss Elsa Harriskine, BSc (Hons), PGCE - Second in Faculty

I graduated from the University of Nottingham with a 2:1 degree in Psychology and went on to complete my teacher training through the Teach First programme. I achieved my National Professional Qualification in Middle Leadership in 2018 and I am a GCSE examiner for English Literature. I have been involved in the shortlisting and judging for the United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA) young adult fiction prize and am passionate about sharing a love of reading with our students. 

  • Ms Sarah Barker, BA (Hons), MA, PGCE

I graduated from University College London with an honours degree in Linguistics. I completed my PGCE in English at the University of Bristol and went on to complete a master’s degree in Educational Leadership. I also have a master’s degree in English Literature, in which I specialised in the representation of Jewish women on the Elizabethan stage. I am interested in supporting all students to become fully literate adults, and in widening the worlds of our young people through literature. I am a senior examiner, as well as Lead Assessment Writer and Lead Examiner for English GCSE specifications. 

  •  Miss Kirsten Burrell, BA (Highest Hons), PGCE

I graduated with highest honours from the University of California with degrees in English and Communication before training as a teacher at the University of Bristol. I have a particular interest in the links between English, history and media. I always encourage students to read widely and often and love recommending books. Since joining the team at Orchard I have enjoyed co-leading creative writing club.

  • Miss Rachel Cox, BA (Hons), PGCE

I graduated from the University of Cardiff with a degree in English Literature and went on to complete a PGCE at UWE. I have a particular interest in children’s literature and have recently been involved in the shortlisting judging panel for the UKLA book awards. Since joining Orchard School, I have also enjoyed co-organising creative writing club. I am a member of the Chartered College of Teaching.

  • Mr Robert Flitter, BA (Hons), MA, QTS

I hold a Bachelor's and Master's degree in History from the University of Bristol. I have a wide range of academic interests – broadly related to our relationship with traces of the past – but my studies focused particularly on histories of identity and resistance; I specialised in histories of writing about urban spaces. My main teaching subject is English, but I have previously taught history here at Orchard; I have also worked extensively on widening participation in the Classics, introducing classical civilisation and Latin to our curriculum. 

  • Mr Timmy Garrett, BA (Hons), PGCE

I graduated from the University of the West of England with a first-class degree in Media and Journalism and went on to undertake my teacher training there. I have a passion for reading and enthusing younger people to get excited about books. I am also interested in the media industry and have worked for various videogame publications, as well as producing and hosting several successful podcasts.

  • Mr Arun Sharma, BA (Hons), PGCE

I graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with an honours degree in English and Philosophy and have since taken post-graduate modules in contemporary American literature, and coaching in education. I have a passion for children's literature and I am currently a long-listing panel judge for the UKLA book awards.

  • Ms Sophie Wiltshire, BSc (Hons), PGCE

I graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in Childhood Studies before completing my PGCE. I have a keen interest in the teaching of current affairs and encouraging students to engage in debate and discussion. I have taught English, Philosophy, Latin and PSHE at Orchard. As a year 7 tutor I am passionate about supporting students to make the transition to secondary, through building strong and consistent relationships.

Curriculum Features

Our ambition is to deliver an inspiring and empowering English curriculum that exposes our students to the incredible breadth of literature in all its forms, develops their intellectual curiosity, their analytical skills, and allows them a creative outlet to express themselves. At Key Stage 3 we teach English Language and Literature alongside each other allowing students to immerse themselves in our rich literary heritage, whilst honing their reading, writing, and oracy skills. Students cover a variety of units spanning different genres, forms, time periods, as well as complete a spoken language assessment each year. From Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Shakespeare, to dystopian fiction, British Poets Laureate, and ‘powerful voices’; we aim to inspire our students and expand their knowledge and understanding of the world around them. Our teaching of vocabulary is underpinned by our students’ knowledge of root words, and our students have regular opportunities to develop their craft as writers as well as developing their critical and analytical reading skills to ensure they have the skills to be successful at key stage 4 and beyond.   

At Key Stage 4 our students study English Literature and Language separately, focusing in depth on three texts – Shakespeare, modern, and pre-19th century literature – and a poetry anthology in Literature, and further developing their creative and transactional writing skills, alongside reading skills of analysis, comparison, inference and evaluation.  

Classical Civilisation is a subject that can be selected for GCSE. Although it is about the study of ancient cultures, it is much broader than ancient history: it is a rich and deeply rewarding subject that also encompasses many of the most fascinating aspects of English literature, religious studies, philosophy, geography, art, and even languages. Students start their journey of discovery more than 3500 years ago with an exploration of the Mycenaean culture, including an examination of its relationship with one of the foundational texts of European Literature, Homer's Odyssey; this is followed by an investigation into the myths and religious beliefs of the later Greek and Roman civilisations, focusing on how these ideas established and shaped their societies. By the end of the course, students will have gained an appreciation not just of the power of the ancient world to astound and humble us, but also of how it continues to influence our own world.