Trident’s English Department finds success year after year. The department is full of passionate teachers who deliver programmes that not only enable students to find success but where students can explore language in its many different forms. In any given classroom in the L block you will find students busy working on creating visual/ verbal texts, poems, making and presenting speeches, reading, debating, forming opinion pieces, creative writing ……..
In 2018 Trident’s English Department had the most students awarded English Scholarship in the wider Bay of Plenty. Scholarship is the highest level of academic competition in NZ. It is a competition, not a qualification and it is run across most curriculum areas. The top approximately 3% of those who sit the exams gains Scholarship with the top .5 % gaining Outstanding Scholarship. Students who are awarded Scholarship in their subject demonstrate high-level critical thinking, abstraction and generalisation, and to integrate, synthesise and apply knowledge, skills, understanding and ideas to complex situations.
The prestige of gaining Scholarship awards also comes with a monetary prize to help fund tertiary study and it undoubtedly equips students for tertiary education and life beyond school. To build confidence and develop critical thinking skills for the students Trident runs a cross-curricular programme of workshops where students problem solve and think critically and creatively. These are team-based challenges which develop thinking and learning relationships between the students and also between students and teachers. Tasks might be centred around ethics – first introducing the concept of ethics and then presenting some dilemmas to solve. The benefits of teaching at this level is that that the robust critical thinking generated in Scholarship classes help shape wider school academic and curriculum programmes that benefit all learners. In fact, the Scholarship programme is an open door opportunity for students to enter should they like a challenge.
The door is never closed to students who like thinking, and year after year we find that often the ‘wild card thinker’ who is unafraid to take risks, gains Scholarship. Students enjoy the opportunity to extend and challenge their thinking, Courtney Wilson (Year 13) says "I love my English and Statistics Scholarship classes as they really open your eyes to just how much of the subject lies beyond the classroom”.
In English specifically, HOD Ms Bowe runs a Scholarship workshop every Wednesday where students explore how literature positions us to think about our human experience. Students learn to think critically about how texts reflect, reinforce and challenge social, political, psychological, philosophical, cultural and historical ideologies. Additionally, students are encouraged to read texts through an alternate lens such as: postcolonial, feminist, Marxist, structural in order to develop perspectives other than their own. Our aim is to create global citizens who want to be the change.
While we realise success at the highest level in Scholarship exams in English, this filters down and Trident celebrates Literacy levels at 98% at Level 1. The scholarship classes also boost the number of excellence and merit subject endorsements that students from the English department gain each year.
Outside of NCEA accomplishments, we have also had students represent Trident in the National Spelling Bee seven times in the last seven years. Last year Ben White placed second equal and this year we will likely have some talented students following his footsteps!
Supporting the English programmes in school Miss Coffey is also currently running a writing competition and Mr Williamson is taking confident speakers to 1XX to learn how to present on the radio.
How lucky the students at Trident are to have such a high achieving culture in the English department.