Category Archives: English


English Guest Speaker

English Guest Speaker - Professor Tiffany Stern about Sheridan’s 18th century play The Rivals

English Guest Speaker, May 16On the 17th May we were very pleased to welcome Professor Tiffany Stern from Oxford University, to AGGS to deliver a lecture to our year 13 literature students on Sheridan’s 18th century play The Rivals. We were also pleased to welcome 12 sixth form students from Chetham’s School of Music, who are also studying the same play.
Tiffany Stern is Professor of Early Modern Drama (English Faculty) at Oxford University and a Beaverbrook and Bouverie Fellow in English (University College). She is also the editor for the Mermaid edition of The Rivals that girls have been studying for their A2 examination.

English Guest Speaker - Professor Tiffany Stern about Sheridan’s 18th century play The RivalsUsing a selection of very informative slides, Tiffany took us through the exciting (and at time infamous) life of Sheridan and how his life events influenced both the themes and characterisations present in the play; she also looked at the Bath setting in detail, explaining why it was unusual in the 18thc to set a play outside London and why Bath was so English-Guest-Speaker_May16-1significant for the themes Sheridan wanted to explore.

This was a wonderful opportunity for the students both to add to their knowledge of AO2 and 4 assessment criteria for the examination and to experience a high level lecture in preparation for their university life in September. We are very grateful for Tiffany having made the journey up from Oxford for us!

Here are some of the comments from the girls:

I found the comment Tiffany made on all the characters containing elements of Sheridan and his wife Elizabeth really interesting’ Niamh

I liked her point about Jack Absolute being both whimsical and devious’ Thasmia

The point Tiffany made about there being untenable conflict within the text, made me think about how the themes worked in more depth’ Holly

The point that stuck with me was the comment that Jack is his own biggest rival’ Victoria

I enjoyed: Lydia Languish likes trashy novels and wishes she were in one and in fact in The Rivals she is nearly the star of one with Jack’ Katherine

This was a really useful lecture and will help me a lot in the examination’ Afiya

Shakespeare’s 400th Anniversary Week

Shakespeares 400th Anniversary Week

This year marks 400 years since the death of one of the greatest authors of all time, William Shakespeare.

To celebrate, staff and students of AGGS took part in a range of activities to celebrate the Bard’s life and work. From considering the rights and roles of Jacobean women in citizenship, quizzes in maths, where students debated whether the answer to the algebraic question was ‘2b or not 2b’, to translating titles in MfL, students considered Shakespeare’s lasting impact across the whole of the curriculum.

The week culminated with staff dressing up as some Shakespeare’s greatest known characters. The best dressed award almost certainly resulted in a tie between Mrs Crowson’s Cleopatra or Mr Harrison’s Bottom!

Thanks to all who took part in the fun and festivities!

Dan Clayton Delivers an English Language Programme

Dan Clayton English Language ProgrammeLinguistics and English Language enthusiast Dan Clayton, took time out of his busy schedule to come to AGGS on Wednesday 7th October 2015 to deliver a two hour programme to our year 12 and 13 students of English Language. It consisted of a thought provoking lecture on English language change followed by a workshop, focussing on analysis and examination skills.

Dan is an AQA A level senior examiner, contributor to emag (a magazine aimed at A level English students, produced by the English and Media Centre), co-author of the Nelson Thornes’ AQA A English Language AS textbook. His A level English Language blogs are viewed by thousands and he recently delivered one of the key note speeches at the British Library English Grammar Conference in London, July 2015. He is also a highly successful and experienced teacher at St. Francis Xavier Sixth Form College in south London.

In his lecture, he examined British attitudes to language change, examining whether ‘poor’ language skills (spoken and written) reflected or determined attitudes in young people today. After examining sources throughout history it became apparent that the so called ‘decline’ in English language skills has been a concern of older generations almost since records began. Caxton was casting aspersions on young people’s use of English in the 15thc, Dryden and Jonathan Swift in the 17thc. David Starkey’s fear that the summer of riots in 2011 were caused by the use of ‘Jafaican’, are clearly unfounded. Evidence points to literacy improving not declining among young people today.

In the workshop, the girls were given extracts to analyse in preparation for their AS and A2 examinations. Comments at the end of the session from Lauren, Becky, Robyn, Ellia Chloe, Harina, included: ‘Dan used lots of relevant examples and spoke to us on our level’; ‘he gave us lots of really relevant examples to help us, which we can use in our examination’; ‘the terminology he used and the informal way he presented has really inspired us and made his lecture and workshop highly accessible’; ‘the breakdown of the different models has been really helpful and the use of up to date research will really help us in our examinations’; ‘I have really enjoyed seeing the links between the lecture and what we are doing in class.


Many thanks to Ms O’Hara and Mrs Cleary for organising this event.

Cathy Cassidy Writer Talk

Cathy Cassidy talkBest-selling author and ‘Queen of Teen’ Cathy Cassidy will be visiting us on Wednesday 10th June 2015 and she will be speaking to our Year 7 girls. Cathy shares stories of her early writing days and career in journalism working for both Jackie and Shout magazines. Cathy’s talk is filled with her top tips for friendship and daydreaming and lots of chocolate! The talk will include a Q&A section where Cathy’s fans will have the chance to have their questions answered!

After her talk the girls will be able to buy and have a copy of Cathy’s book(s) signed by the author herself. The prices of the books that will be available on the day are listed below at a special event price.

Looking Glass Girl (RRP £12.99) £10.00
Chocolate Box Series: Fortune Cookie (RRP £12.99) £10.00
Chocolate Box Series: Secrets (RRP £6.99) £7.00

For more information please see Miss Devlin

Shakespeare Competition Success

AGGS-Drama-Pupils-GroupOn Thursday, 23rd April, 10 of our year 8s and 2 of our 9s took part in the north west regional final of the ESU performing Shakespeare competition, which we hosted in our school. This was the second stage of the competition to choose the best monologue and best dualogue in the north west. Our girls were up against 4 year 9s from two other schools and all of them performed brilliantly! We were very proud of them.

We were successful in both areas with Sophia T a joint winner for best monologue and Jo M and Jess S winning best dualogue.

They are now through to the grand final in London in June.

Well done to them!

The Lives and Loves of Jesobel Jones

The Lives and Loves of Jesobel JonesCongratulations to our own Mrs Clark for her debut YA novel “The Lives and Loves of Jesobel Jones” writing as Anna Mainwaring. Early reviews describe is as ‘funny and fabulous’!


Book Event – Anna Mainwaring Book Signing

Wednesday 25th March

The lives and loves of jesobel jonesAs some of the pupils know, Mrs Clark of the English department has another identity as Anna Mainwaring, a writer of teen fiction. Her new book is called ‘The Lives and Loves of Jesobel Jones‘ and will be launched at a lunchtime event in the school library on March 25th.

Signed books can be purchased at a discounted price of £7 on the day. Alternatively, the paperback will be on sale on the Amazon website for £7.99 whilst the kindle version is a mere £1.99! A recent review described Jesobel as a cross between ‘a teenage Bridget Jones and Louise Rennison’. If that appeals, come to the Library on March 25th!