Introducing  IEB Advanced English Programme

    Fiona Kampmann

    Advanced Programme English is a new offering from the IEB and is being piloted by 15 IEB schools this year. The purpose of the programme is to provide a foundation for the number of learners who through competence and desire enter Higher Education to pursue a career in which English features as a chosen major. Learners proceeding to institutions of Higher Education with Advanced Programme English will be in a strong position to progress effectively in any English related discipline they decide to follow.

    Advanced Programme English is conceived of as an extension and challenge for learners who demonstrate a greater than average ability in, or enthusiasm, for English. The knowledge gained from being exposed to the Advanced Programme will engender a passion for literature as well as provide learners with the ability to structure sophisticated arguments across a range of different texts and genres. In addition, the programme is expected to make learners accountable for their own learning as well as develop learners’ independent study skills.

    Reports from teachers at the pilot schools suggest that learners are enthusiastically engaged in the programme and are greatly enjoying the diversity of texts, films and poetry included in the curriculum, as well as the opportunity to be actively involved in tutorial-style discussions that arise out of their independent reading of the texts. Furthermore, learners are involved in presenting different aspects of the prescribed works to their peers, ensuring a sustained and vigorous participation in their AP English sessions.

    While academic heads and principals are concerned about how to find the time to offer the subject, teachers in the pilot schools are being innovative in terms of managing the time constraints. Some schools are offering two-hour sessions, one evening a week, while others are managing to hold sessions during extended lunch hours or before sport and cultural activities begin in the afternoons. The programme has been constructed in such a way as to be both teacher- and learner-friendly.  The task team were particularly cognisant of the demands placed on both teachers and learners in designing the curriculum. Thus, the programme can be taught in modules, thereby spreading the load across teachers. It does seem that most of the pilot schools are adopting this or a similar model of implementation in order to make use of the strengths and interests of the different members of the English Department to teach different aspects of the curriculum.

    Some schools have chosen to select the texts for the candidates and offer a limited range – particularly with managing the truncated pilot programme – while others are offering all the choices in the curriculum and learners can select the ones for which they have the most enthusiasm and passion. While the pilot schools acknowledge that they are experiencing some teething problems, the clear message that is emerging is that the programme is manageable, diverse and enriching and most importantly, the learners are enjoying it.

    What is interesting is that while the programme was intended initially to enrich top English learners and provide a departure point for those hoping to pursue an English course at university, it is not only the top learners who are signing up. Discussion with teachers increasingly indicates that learners who are enthusiastic about literature and want to stretch themselves academically have registered for Advanced Programme English. It is also having a positive effect on their NSC curriculum with learners being able to present more sophisticated arguments which display increased depth and insight.

    The curriculum as well as an exemplar paper is available on the IEB website to assist both teachers and learners from the pilot schools in their preparation for the examination in November, as well as to give those who are intending to offer Advanced Programme English in 2012 and beyond, a guide to the assessment that is envisaged.

    There has been great interest shown in Advanced Programme English.  A large cohort is anticipated for 2012, the year of full implementation.  As is the case with Advanced Programme Mathematics, this English programme is available for both State and IEB schools.  Should you have any further queries, contact Fiona Kampmann at the IEB (email:  kampmannf@ieb.co.za)

    Fiona Kampmann

    IEB Assessment Specialist: Official Languages

    Categories: Volume 2