What is the subject ‘English’?

English is the study, use, and enjoyment of the English language and its literature, communicated orally, visually, and in writing, for a range of purposes and audiences and in a variety of text forms. Learning English encompasses learning the language, learning through the language, and learning about the language. Understanding, using, and creating oral, written, and visual texts of increasing complexity is at the heart of English teaching and learning. By engaging with text-based activities, students become increasingly skilled and sophisticated speakers and listeners, writers and readers, presenters and viewers.

What is Senior English at William Colenso College?

The Senior School English Department at William Colenso College provides students with a rich range of courses which are appropriate to their literacy levels and responsive to their needs. The courses are scaffolded and cognitively incremental in that they offer pathways through which students can move in order to achieve to the level/outcome they require for work-ready/career/tertiary entry. The study of English gives students access to the understanding, knowledge, and skills they need to participate fully in the social, cultural, political, and economic life of New Zealand and the wider world. To be successful participants, they need to be effective oral, written, and visual communicators who are able to think critically and in depth. By understanding how language works, students are better equipped to make appropriate language choices and apply them in a range of contexts. Students learn to deconstruct and critically interrogate texts in order to understand the power of language to enrich and shape their own and others’ lives. Students are encouraged to appreciate and enjoy texts in all their forms – visual/written/oral texts, and all texts are equally valued. The school values Whanaungatanga, Hirangatanga and Manaakitanga are promoted and modelled in the selection of texts offered, and the range of rich language activities students engage in such as writing, reading, speaking and listening.

Links to the WCC Strategic Plan

To achieve responsive outcomes for all students, the department:

  • Acknowledges that success in English (literacy) is fundamental to success across the curriculum. All learning areas (with the possible exception of languages) require students to receive, process, and present ideas or information using the English language as a medium. English can be studied both as a heritage language and as an additional language.
  • Tries where possible, to weave Tikanga Maori into all programmes whether it be via Maori literature or classroom activities.
  • Integrates the study of New Zealand (Maori and Pakeha) and world literature to contribute to students’ developing sense of identity, their awareness of New Zealand’s bi-cultural heritage, and their understanding of the world.

To achieve responsive systems and processes, the department:

  • Monitors, analyses and evaluates student achievement data to reflect on and review programme delivery. Aims explicitly to improve Maori achievement through deliberate acts of teaching.
  • Maintains (via HOL) fiscal integrity and adheres to budgetary constraints.
  • Annually reviews all programmes to find better outcomes for students (in particular, raise Maori achievement).

To achieve responsive learning opportunities, the department:

  • Presents students with opportunities to engage with and develop the key competencies in diverse contexts.
  • Attempts to offer real and relevant curriculum challenges via literary choices that are linked to the lives of students and activities which have some (albeit sometimes obscure) real-life relevance/value.
  • Provide extension activities and challenging undertakings for international students, in particular focusing on their formal academic writing to give them a linguistic ‘edge’ when they return home and/or provide them with support and strategies to gain University Entrance.
  • Offer e-learning opportunities where possible. Most English classrooms have computers for student use.
  • Reinforce speaking skills and student confidence to enable students to speak and present in public, which, in turn, will enrich their professional and personal lives.

To achieve responsive relationships, the department:

  • Embraces the school Restorative Justice System and Te Kotahitanga practices to enable positive relationships and critical dialogue.
  • Develops, where necessary, individualised learning programmes to meet students’ unique requirements/needs. In all SENIOR English classes, and for many of the tasks in the other senior classes, the assessments tasks are negotiated with the students to suit their interests/desires/needs. In short, we offer a flexible and individually negotiated curriculum.