The English courses in St. Joseph of Cluny are focused on meeting the requirements of the Junior and Leaving Certificate programmes. Students in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Transition Year are placed in mixed ability classes. It is a policy of our subject Department to avoid streaming. Students with reading or learning difficulties are catered for within the class context and supported by the Learning Support team. All the Senior Cycle students are offered and taught the Higher Level Leaving Certificate Course. A very small minority – after guidance from parents and teachers – opt for the Ordinary Level.
The English Department is conscious that our programmes should not be limited to merely preparing our students for the Junior and Leaving Certificates. Our aims are to consolidate and develop the students’ literary skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students are introduced to a wide range of literature on themes appropriate and relevant to their stages of development, with an emphasis on exposure to a range of texts rather than an intensive examination of a few. As a result we encourage intellectual curiosity and foster the students’ oral and literary creativity. A sound basis for literary judgement is laid down.
In addition to the required programmes, the English Department supplements and enhances our students experience of the subject by organising a wide range of relevant activities such as visits to the theatre, guest writers, encouraging students to enter literary competitions (Young Journalist of the Year, One Act Play Competition, Poetry Aloud, etc.)
Under the aegis of the English Department a very strong debating culture is fostered. All years are catered for through a Junior Debating Society and a Senior Debating Society. Our School sends representatives to the Model European Parliament and European Youth Parliament, they also participate in the European Youth Forum – this gives our students an opportunity to have their voice and views heard at home and abroad. In order to raise social consciousness we enter students in the Concern Debates and the Know your World Quiz; students also participate in the Mental Health Ireland Public Speaking Competition as well as the Soroptomists Ireland Competitions. To cater for the Junior Cycle we enter three teams in the Inter-Schools U-15 debating competitions and teams in the Women’s Graduate Association Public Speaking for Girls. Members of the English Department are enthusiastically involved in the aforementioned activities.
The NCCA syllabus states that “We live in the midst of language”. In English classes in Cluny, teachers foster and encourage an awareness of the power, potential and rewards of the spoken and written word. “Language most shows a man: speak that I may see thee”.