Category Archives: English

Author Visit – Rachel McIntyre

Rachel McIntyre Visits AGGS
Rachel McIntyre Visits AGGS

The English department were very happy to welcome Rachel McIntyre to AGGS on July 6th. Rachel, who has had three books for teenagers published in the last two years, came to deliver creative writing workshops to year 9 and year 10 and to talk to students in the library. The workshops were fast-paced and engaging. Students learned how to create an original character and how to plot a story. Who knew year 9 had such dark imaginations? Rachel talked to aspiring writers in the library, suggesting ways in which they could develop their writing.

Huge thanks to Rachel to taking time out to visit us.

Cecelia Ahern Visit, 30th March 2017

Cecilia Ahern Visit, March 2017

The award winning and worldwide bestselling author Cecelia Ahern came to Altrincham Grammar School for Girls yesterday, to launch her new novel for Young Adults, Perfect.  The visit was arranged by our Librarian, Mrs Hodgson who also conducted the interview.

The novel, the sequel to the hugely popular Flawed, concludes the story of Celestine North, a 17 year old, in hiding and on the run from the Guild, a court set up to rid the world of Flaws.  Her perfect life is ruined by the Guild when she herself is found Flawed and through the process she is forced to question everything about her life and the society she lives in.

It was fascinating to hear Cecelia’s inspiration for the story and her conviction that everyone should be allowed to make mistakes so that they can learn and grow.  She said “None of us are perfect. Let us not pretend that we are, or be afraid that we’re not”.

Cecelia revealed that the secret to her success lies in the fact that she always burns a Jo Malone candle when she writes.  She keeps office hours and handwrites everything in Bic biro!  A born story teller, Cecelia’s first (unpublished) novel was written at exactly the age of her audience, 14 years old, and was called Beans on Toast and a Bottle of Beer!  She advised the pupils to find something that they really loved to do and make that their work so that, like her, they could lead a life that they loved.

The pupils themselves were delighted to be able to meet such a successful author.  “It was really inspiring” said one girl, “I can’t wait get home and start reading”.

John Ryland’s Language Change Workshop

John Ryland’s Language Change Workshop

On Monday 7th and Wednesday 9th November, year 12 and 13 – accompanied by Miss O’Hara and Mrs Willmott – took part in a workshop exploring the evolution of the English language from Old English to the modern period. Pupils were given exclusive access to a range of first and second editions of texts such as The Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare’s first folio, The King James I Bible and Johnson’s Dictionary. Pupils were fascinated to discover the changes in spelling, punctuation and written styles that had taken place over the years and were given a history of the importance of the printing press in the standardisation of English as we know it today. Pupils were also treated to a tour of the library’s beautiful Victorian gothic architecture and interior and all agreed it was just like being at Hogwarts! Roma and Mrs Willmott particularly enjoyed getting in to the role of Victorian gentlemen in the library reading room.

AGGS – Cedar Mount Book Donation Scheme

book-project-6 What is the link between Cedar Mount School in Gorton and AGGS in Bowdon? They are both within the Greater Manchester vicinity. Both teaching institutions, providing an education for young people between the ages of 11-16 years old. Both part of the Bright Futures Education Trust. These three elements have brought the schools together through a book donating scheme this October.

Cedar Mount invested into a brand new library in their school; a new hub from which they could encourage more pupils to frequently read, outside of the classroom. With their efforts, the school has seen a gradual increase in the numbers of students using the library. A handful of students even arrive before school at 8am, in order to use the library as a haven, to read and relax before their official school day begins. This new facility sounds like an exciting new prospect for the whole school community, yet what if I told you that their library had no more than 200 books for their 900 students? Those figures immediately expose that the collection of books were too small, unvaried and inadequate for their pupils’ ambitions, interests and abilities. The select group of avid library users, were already running out of material that they found interesting to read.

AGGS & Cedar Mount Book projectIn the September 2016, Cedar Mount approached AGGS and asked if the school could help out to help out with this severe shortage of books. Notably, without the Bright Futures Trust binding the two schools together, this may not have been possible. Collaboratively, as a school, as a community, we could do more than our fair share to help the students of Cedar Mount. After all, the students of Cedar Mount deserved more than 200 books. With support from the English department, a group of Year 9 and 10 students led by myself, a Year 13, took on the challenge of managing this project. We met up every Tuesday for 5 weeks and created a PowerPoint, delivered assemblies and managed the logistics of book donations.  We asked all pupils and staff to donate at least one book that they had enjoyed and felt someone else would like to read. I am glad to announce that AGGS gathered nearly 2,000 books for Cedar Mount library, which exceeded any figure that either school expected.
This donating scheme is an example of what the Trust is about; sharing resources, whether it be teaching techniques or books. The Trust aims to improve all of its schools, by collaboratively learning from one another. This collaboration is rarely done on a student level so therefore we utilised this donating scheme as an opportunity to begin to build a relationship with the pupils from each school. We encouraged every person who donated a book, to attach a note to the book, explaining why each one was donated. These messages were not only to help pupils choose which books to read from a pupil perspective but also encourage students to expand their interests by trying a different genre, author or style.

AGGS & Cedar Mount Book projectOn Friday 21st October, Cedar Mount’s Year 11 leadership team and the AGGS book donating group met and discussed the scheme and brainstormed ideas of how we could help one another in the future. We met in the AGGS library and the beginning of the meeting was full of nervous energy and anticipation. Admittedly, with the help of cake and juice to ease the atmosphere, pupils and teachers from both schools laughed, thanked and even cried at what we had achieved together. The handing over of the 2,000 books felt satisfying for all participants of the scheme. A positive relationship has now been set in motion; AGGS have given a scrapbook to Cedar Mount, which is now in the Cedar Mount library, where pupils are responding with messages regarding their thoughts and feelings about the donated books. AGGS have been invited to visit Cedar Mount Library and collect the scrapbook as a momentum in the following years.

In principle, the scheme was purely about solving an issue together by simply giving away valued books from one pupil to another. Giving and sharing are the most rewarding actions that you can do. What I, and many of my fellow pupils have taken from this scheme, is that giving is so much easier than you first might think. I strongly hold the belief that the more individuals group together to help someone other than ourselves, the more likely it is that we would live in a happier, more fulfilled and stronger community, country and even global society. This scheme is an exemplary example of this belief.

Olivia N

Year 13

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’!