The Teachers

In order to change the world, you have to get your head together first

Jimi Hendrix

Musician

Liam Harris

I am very curious. I can’t help it. I just like asking questions.

The problem is that with most questions (the ones that are worth asking, anyway) you never really get a completely fulfilling answer. In fact, I often find that one question will usually lead to another. A ‘when’ transforms to a ‘how’ that leads to a ‘why’ which inevitably finds its way to a ‘what if…’.

And those are the most dangerous types of questions. That’s partly because they make my head hurt but mostly because it means that we could do something differently, or treat someone differently or see the world in different ways. That’s the real problem with questions: when we investigate the answers we find that we are usually wrong and then we have to change the way we see things. That’s the hardest part.

In my classroom, whether in English or in Drama, I like to investigate big questions with my students. That means that we might often leave the classroom feeling more confused than when we entered it. But that is okay, because we are willing to work hard to see things differently and to make sure the rest of the world listens to what we have found.

Year 11 English

Falling Short and Self-Discoveries

Life is full of expectations. Certain things are expected of you and that is a part of being human. But what happens when we fall short of what is expected of us? When we don’t quite achieve an outcome we or others expected? What about when we actively defy society’s expectations? Or, perhaps worse, suppress our human instincts because society tells us so?

Discover Thyself

Year 11 Drama

We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand, and it is no good moving from place to place to save things; because the shadow always follows. Choose a place where you won’t do harm – yes, choose a place where you won’t do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine.

E. M. Forster

Author, "A Room with a View"

Holly Dearden

Words, words, words. Where would we be without them? Words and stories have always played a big part in my life – that’s one of the reasons I decided to become an English teacher. I believe that it’s worth reading a thousand books to find one that changes us.

Sometimes it’s to do with language: some writers use their words so skillfully that the dots and symbols on the page become like a piece of music when they are read out loud, transporting us somewhere else. More often it’s about what those narratives or characters mean to us, how we can relate to them. Or it’s about timing – when we read something that really resonates with what is happening in our lives. Every now and then, all of these things happen at once. When it does, you are hooked.

We always have a choice about which words we can use in any given situation, and over how we decide to express them. One thing we can’t control, though, is how others receive them. I find it helpful to remember this when people don’t react in the way you want them to!

Thinking about this in terms of texts, the reader – or audience – becomes as, if not more important than the writer. How cool is that? That’s the thing I am most interested in, how each student may respond differently to something they read or watch, breathing new life into the material as they bring their own experiences to it.

Put simply, your voice matters. The meaning of a book or poem or play changes according to whoever is reading it.

So, you see, it’s all up to you… time to get reading! You won’t regret it.

Year 7 English

What’s Your Story?

Everyone loves a good story, don’t they? You will have heard many different stories in your lives so far, through your families, your friends, books, films and video games. You may enjoy listening to them, reading them, telling them, performing them, or all of these things! But have you ever wondered where all these stories come from?

What’s Your Story

Year 8 English

Wicked Women

This course focuses on the representation of evil women in literature, specifically how certain female characters may have been ‘demonised’ and what we think about this.

Wicked Women

Year 9 English

Follow the Leader?

Have you ever witnessed someone abusing their power? What would you do in that situation – keep quiet and follow the leader or speak out and risk being alienated from a group?

Follow the Leader?

Year 10 English

Freedom

The literary texts on this GCSE course all pose profound questions about freedom – what it means to be free, how freedom exists in various forms, and the tantalising quest for freedom within the confines of human experience.

Freedom

Year 11 English

Hate

Hatred alone is immortal. Do we not see this principle at work everywhere?

Hate

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.

Jack Kerouac

Author

Joel North

I became an English teacher because of my love of stories.  Let’s face it, stories are important.  Words are important.  The way that I choose to order these words right now can change the entire meaning and interpretation of my blog – how crazy is that?

What about pictures?  Well, they’re good too – but what if every image you see, or even create, could tell a story? It had a narrative – like a beginning, a middle and an end; a hero(ine), a tempestuous storm and a climax?  All in one image?  Now that is a concept that is mindblowing.

I want my students to know that their words are important; the order they put them in and which words you may choose to use; the punctuation that you might select to help or hinder your meaning; these all matter too.

My lessons use visual prompts, and focus on the importance of exploring clues left by writers to develop inferences and change our interpretations of a text.  Importantly, I want you to know how to express yourselves and put power behind your words.

Year 7 English

Here be Dragons

What do Star Wars, James Bond, Batman and the Avengers all have in common?  They all tell the same story.  It was once said that every hero that has ever been created are all the same person; that they all essentially have the same strengths and weaknesses; that every quest is essentially the same.  If that’s true, then why do we still find heroes so exciting?

Here be Dragons

Year 8 English

Something Wicked This Way Comes

This programme is intended to explore how you would act when faced with adversity and moral uncertainty.

Come this Way

Year 9 English

You Can’t SEE Me

Someone once said that identity was the conflict between wanting to be yourself and wanting to belong to the crowd. Is it possible to yourself despite the influences of society? By choosing this unit, we will explore the possible conflicts between social and personal identities.

You can’t SEE me

Year 11 English

Gods and Monsters

How far would you go to fulfil your dreams and ambitions? Who is it that defines where the boundaries of ‘civilised’ society lie and what right do they have to tell us where our our priorities should be and how we should act? How much are we in control of our own actions and why should we care about the binaries of Good and Evil?

Gods and Monsters

Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.

Ralph Ellison

Author

JP O’Brien

I’m a fan of words. It’s probably the main reason I became an English teacher. And not just words in books, but everywhere: in hip-hop, newspapers, conversation, advertising. I think for us to live a fulfilling life, we need to understand how words can mean different things in different mediums. Why is it that the slogan of McDonalds is ‘I’m lovin’ it’ instead of I’m loving it? Or why do we so often misinterpret each other through texts?

You probably know a lot about these things already. That’s why I love English; we can find the answers in our own lives and beliefs. Which leads me onto another thing I enjoy, asking questions. You do it all the time in your own lives, I’m sure. The thing about asking questions, though, is that we get more answers – if we get answers any at all –  when we do so together.

We better get going, then! There’s a world to interpret. Let’s not fall behind..

Year 7 English

Hearing Your Own Voice in the Crowd

By choosing ‘Hearing Your Own Voice in the Crowd’, you will start a journey which will guide you through how humans have dealt with adversity and challenge in their lives.

Silence the Crowd

Year 8 English

The Outsider

Fiction has always been a refuge for the lonely and downtrodden. In this option, however, we will explore the outsider as protagonist, not reader.

The Outsider

Year 9 English

Trauma in the Inner City

“What strange phenomena we find in a great city, all we need do is stroll about with our eyes open. Life swarms with innocent monsters.” – Charles Baudelaire.

By choosing ‘Trauma in the Inner City’, you will embark on a journey which explores the trauma of living in the heart of the city.

Trauma in the Inner City

Year 10 English

The Have Nots

Over 2.1 billion people live on less than $3.10 a day. Our news is saturated by headlines telling us about the growing wealth gap, lack of resources, the increase in child poverty. In our own neighbourhoods, closer to home, it is hard to ignore how resources are not distributed as equally as they should be. All of this means that we are always, in one form or another, thinking about one thing: poverty.

The Have Nots

Quote as yet un-forthcoming

Unknown

Unknown

Danny Curran

Mr Curran teaches with a genuine quiet passion, using traditional practices, where you can expect to engage in steady routines. In his classes the literature sets the tone and individual scholarship is highly valued. He sets high expectations of his students and demands a commitment to learning that extends beyond the classroom. The writing programmes will have a strong emphasis on developing in you a unique writer’s ‘voice’.

Year 8 English

Year 11 English
Year 12 English
Year 13 English

To find yourself, think for yourself.

Socrates

Classical Philosopher

Will Murray

As a country boy from somewhere in Scotland nobody has ever heard of, I now call London home and I’m most excited about embracing the vast spectrum of experiences that life in the capital has to offer.  I became a teacher later in life, after having worked in the outdoor instruction industry, and still feel passionate about the value that all things outdoors and adrenaline filled can have on any person’s life. My current favourite book is the The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer as it explores the limits of human endurance and it analyses how different people react when the chips are down.

My main hobbies are climbing, snowboarding and surfing with reading coming in the gaps…

Year 7 English

Where Do We Belong?

At the start of your voyage of discovery in London Nautical School, you will begin, like all curious people, by asking questions. What does it mean to belong? What makes up culture? How do different cultures communicate their values?

Where Do We Belong?

Year 8 English

How Will Tomorrow Turn Out?

Where do we go from here? What happens now? These questions have been at the front of people’s minds as long as humans have been around. We will follow in these well trodden footsteps and explore our own perception of this through the genre of fantasy and science fiction.

Time Travel?

Year 9 English

Power and Politics

What will people do to hold onto power? How do you build a society and what does it mean to be a citizen? These key questions will guide our exploration of politics and power through Y9 but most importantly we will apply the lessons we learn from our texts to the real world around us and develop our understanding of the levers of power in 21st century Britain.

Who Holds the Levers?

Year 11 English
Year 12 English

Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.

Katherine Mansfield

Author, Biography on Te Ara

Chris Waugh

Originally from a small place called Vauxhall on a peninsula in the southern coast of New Zealand, the un-originality of the fact that I still call Vauxhall home does not escape me. Still, the name is where the similarity ends and I have to admit to still finding it a thrill when I head out for my Sunday morning run or ride and find myself waiting at the lights outside the RVT with an array of the locals: invariably a worse-for-wear drag queen totters next to a family dressed for church. I love that limbic moment when worlds drift past each other in real time. London feels as if it were made for this.

Even though I don’t agree with the idea of having a favourite book, I have one. “The Vintners Luck” by Elizabeth Knox is it. I have more than one copy signed by the author and it was the only physical book I packed when I emigrated over 5 years ago. I fell in love with the lead character and I suspect I’m in love with him still. While I do love reading – I also love swimming, running and cycling. I’ll often be seen on my bike, patiently observing all red lights on the Albert Embankment each morning – and if you’re standing at the Lambeth Palace stop as I pedal by, by all means say hello.

Having come to teaching in my early thirties after careers in radio broadcasting and the fitness industry, I have a unique perspective on the job of the teacher. To me the classroom must be a place of vivid engagement.

Through a bold merger of established texts, my 20th century sensibility and new media, I believe I meet you as my students half-way in the job of ensuring your educational success. I believe that authenticity is an absolute key to success in the secondary school environment. This applies to everything. The relationships we develop in the classroom must be honest, the work we do  must be authentic – we’ve really got to be interested in it. The feedback that I give must ‘ring true’ and I must be prepared to engage in the process of learning myself – explicitly – in order to lead by example. I must learn from my students as you learn from me. I must also act in ways that are consistent with my expectations of you. If I won’t do it, I won’t expect you to either.

› Read more of my thinking about teaching and learning in my professional journal

Year 7 English

The Individual and Society

Choosing The Individual and Society as your English programme for Year 7 will allow you a chance to expand on your personal voice.

The Individual and Society

Year 10 English

Dire Ambition

A frank and unflinching examination of the British class war – after all, “You can’t polish a turd”.

Get Polishing

Year 11 English

Dire Ambition

A frank and unflinching examination of the British class war – after all, “You can’t polish a turd”.

Get Polishing

Year 10 Drama
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: