Year 10 subject selections: Studying English Extension in Years 11 and 12 with Pamela Laycock

14 June 2020

Pamela Laycock has been teaching at Glenaeon for 20 years, joining the school as a Class Teacher of Year 7.  Pamela studied Visual Arts and English at Sydney University, and upon graduation she began a 10 year career in museum management, working in regional art museums as a Gallery Director and Curator.  Following this she transferred to teaching by completing a Diploma in Education. She has since gone on to become Head of Department and has supported students to excel in English throughout Years 9 to 12. She has extensive experience in teaching all four Year 11 and 12 English courses and, as an HSC marker herself, is best placed to guide students to achieve to their full potential in HSC English.

Students in Years 11 and 12 can study the mandatory subject English at the standard or advanced level for the HSC.  In addition, students can elect to study English Extension 1 in Years 11 and 12, and English Extension 2 in Year 12.  The difference between these two courses is that English Extension 1 is based on coursework, whereas in English Extension 2, students select a personal area of interest to research and compose an extended print in either short fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, critical response, sound medium, or multimedia.

English Extension 1 and English Extension 2 have been popular subjects for students who are interested in reading and who wish to work creatively to produce a substantial imaginative composition. 

Philippa Grimshaw, currently in Year 12, was interviewed about her experience of studying English Extension 2. 

Why should I choose to study both English Extension 1 and English Extension 2?

If you are a student who enjoys studying English, and you are passionate about creative writing, then the courses English Extension 1 in Year 11 and English Extension 1 and English Extension 2 in Year 12 will give you the opportunity to apply your focus in these areas.  These courses are about developing your creative potential, as much as they develop your knowledge about the history of the discipline.  If there is a passion for writing, then these are enjoyable courses.

What will studying English Extension teach me?

In English Extension we study a variety of texts from the literary canon.  Students develop their ability to independently research, and further, how to apply the newly acquired skills to areas that personally interest them.  An area of interest could be in short story writing, filmmaking or performance poetry.

What is the number 1 reason why students choose to study English Extension?

Most students who study English Extension love reading and writing.  They are motivated by the possibility of writing creatively, and they wish to see their ideas develop within a sustained literary text of which they can be proud.

What makes this subject such a great one to study in HSC? What makes it so interesting?

The student’s area of passion is what drives their work in English Extension 2.  Students do not have assigned work and so the work they do doesn’t feel like work, but feels like a break from school work.   Students work on the major project for a year, and it is usually satisfying to see their creative efforts progress and develop.

What differentiates Glenaeon’s teaching approach in English to other schools? 

The most enjoyable aspect of studying English to the extension level is that, because of the small class sizes, positive relationships form between the students and between the teachers and the students.  Writing creatively is challenging, but the rewards and the sense of satisfaction on the completion of the project is highly motivating for everyone.  It is so pleasing to be together and witness each other’s growth and pride when the creative project is finished.

How can this subject help students beyond their school years?

Researching something that is of special interest to you is highly motivating.   Not only do you develop research skills, but your areas of interest expand and other directions are suddenly possible.   Literature, whether one is reading a good book or watching a mind bending film, is always relaxing.