Monday, September 29, 2014

The Importance of Being Earnest

The cast for this year's Senior Play, Oscar Wilde's great comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, has just been announced.  The directors are Mr Swift and Mr Clarke, and the performances will be on November 13th, 14th and 15th in the Big Schoolroom. We'll have more news here in due course.

Jack - Harvey McCone
Algernon - John Clarke
Lane - Nikolaus Eggers
Merriman - Óisín Large
Lady Bracknell - Darcy Maule
Gwendolen - Melissa Halpenny
Cecily - Phoebe Coulter
Miss. Prism - Louvisa Karlsson-Smythe
Dr. Chasuble - Sam Clarke

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Actiontrack Video

Twenty years of Columbans have hugely enjoyed their experiences with Nick Brace and the Actiontrack crew. Here's their new promotional video, with several clips from their time recently at the College.

Actiontrack Performance Company from Actiontrack on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Alliteration and its Purpose

The next in the re-run series of brief talks on the Patterns of Poetry series of brief talks is on the technique of alliteration, and uses 'The Windhover' by Gerard Manley Hopkins to illustrate how powerfully it can be used.  Here's an article on Simon Armitage's translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

What do you first see when you look at a poem?

Four years ago we started a series of very short talks on the 'Patterns of Poetry' (they went on t0 be runner-up in the 2010 Edublog Awards in the category 'Best Educational Use of Audio'. Since these talks are buried deep in the site, and they continue to be relevant to our pupils for both prescribed and unseen poems, here's another run at them over the next couple of weeks.

This is the original introduction:-

And this is the first talk that actually looks at poems, considering the importance of titles in poetry, and uses Elizabeth Bishop's 'The Fish' and Robert Frost's 'Out, Out' in 4 minutes:-

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Inside the Brain of a Struggling Reader

Inside the Brain of a Struggling Reader: infographic

See the original infographic at

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Letters of Note

A great resource for English teachers, and a great well of interesting writing for pupils, is Shaun Usher's beautiful book Letters of Note: correspondence deserving of a wider audience, along with his website (also on Twitter as @lettersofnote). 

There are 125 letters from famous people such as F. Scott Fitzgerald (to his daughter Scottie, 'Things to Worry About'), Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin and Dororhy Parker. These are superbly presented as facsimiles, accompanied by transcripts, alongside portraits of the authors and other illustrations. There are rich opportunities here for classes.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Poetry Aloud 2014

It's that time of the year again: volunteers are needed to enter the national Poetry Aloud competition, in which we've had a fair amount of success over the years. Full details are here, and also from English teachers.

The regional heats are from 13th to 24th October, and the category poems are 'Heirloom' by Gerard Smyth, 'An Irish Airman Foresees his Death' by W.B. Yeats, and the late Seamus Heaney's wonderful 'St Kevin and the Blackbird' (see and listen to him reading it above). Then you add a poem from one of the prescribed anthologies - The Rattle Bag, Lifelines and Something Beginning with P.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Transition Year course 2014-15

The TY English course is now under way, and pupils are starting to select texts for their major Extended Essays, to be completed by mid-November.

Click here for the year's course, and here for advice and ideas on the Extended Essay. You should also go online to sites such as Amazon and Good Reads and of course visit the Library and browse...

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Ninth Season

The 2014 Michaelmas Term starts today, and also our ninth year a-blogging. We're not flagging: there are lots of interesting things ahead, including lots of resources for pupils, and plenty of pupils' work. We'll be kicking off mostly with material related to the Transition Year.