Overview of the Subject

As a subject, English is not easily defined. It does not have, for example, the recognisable content-based body of knowledge and narrowly-identifiable skills common to other subject areas. True, in fictional and expressive works it has some claim to discrete subject matter, and in critical analysis a skill and method peculiar to itself, but its overall range is far wider, less susceptible to definition. It transcends subject boundaries because it is a means of communication and knowledge which seeks to enable, extend and enrich the linguistic experience of all students. Its proper subject matter is the entire spectrum of language and human experience, and it is, in consequence, the most cross-curricular of all disciplines.

It is also this quality which makes it such an exciting and challenging area in which to operate.

Our aim is to make students think, explore, describe and empathise with the ideas and feelings of others. They should learn the skills necessary to express themselves fully in a variety of situations and for a variety of purposes. We aim to enable them to judge, argue and assess opinion: equally importantly, they should be encouraged to respect and be sympathetic towards those outside the immediate compass of their own knowledge and experience.

English is the backbone of the curriculum. It is also, however, the truest form of education for life.

Perks of the course:
  • Theatre visits
  • Poetry readings
  • Film
  • Literary festivals
  • University-led courses
  • Writing workshops
  • Drama workshops
  • Lectures

‘… and I always thought Shakespeare was DULL!’
‘I never knew a few words could mean so much.’

At Key Stage 3, the curriculum has been designed to prepare students for the rigour of GCSE, as well as to help students foster a passion for the subject.

In Year 7, students can expect to study:

  • Descriptive and narrative writing
  • Reading analysis skills linked to Roald Dahl’s Boy
  • Poetry
  • Modern prose (such as Holes, Millions or Stone Cold)
  • Non-fiction writing
  • An introduction to Shakespeare’s plays and poetry
  • Writing to argue and persuade.

In Year 8, students can expect to study:

  • Modern prose (such as His Dark Materials, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian or Wonder), including descriptive and narrative writing
  • Poetry
  • Dystopian literature
  • Travel writing, including writing to argue and persuade
  • A Shakespearean comedy (such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Twelfth Night)
  • Reading analysis skills.

In Year 9, students can expect to study:

  • Modern prose (such as Of Mice and Men or To Kill A Mockingbird), including descriptive and narrative writing
  • Poetry
  • 19th-century detective stories
  • A Shakespearean tragedy (such as Othello)
  • A play (such as Our Day Out, Back Harvest or A View From The Bridge)
  • Non-fiction extracts
  • Writing to argue and persuade.

Students will also develop their speaking and listening skills through class discussions, debates, group work and individual presentations.

Every student can expect to be entered for both English Language and English Literature, meaning they will achieve two GCSE grades in this subject. The department currently teaches the AQA specification for both Language and Literature.

In Year 10, students will study:

  • a modern prose text (either An Inspector Calls or Blood Brothers)
  • a Shakespeare play (either Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice or Much Ado About Nothing)
  • a selection of poems from an anthology (either Love and Relationships or Power and Conflict), which will also teach the skills needed for analysing unseen poetry
  • the skills required for English Language Paper 1 (analysing an unseen fiction text and writing to describe and narrate).

In Year 11, as well as consolidating the skills developed in Year 10, students will study:

  • a 19th-century novel (either A Christmas Carol, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde or The Sign of Four)
  • the skills required for English Language Paper 2 (comparing non-fiction texts and writing to argue and persuade).

Students will also develop their speaking and listening skills which will be graded as a Pass, Merit or distinction as part of the subject’s Non-Exam Assessment.

At A-Level, the English department offers two courses: English Language and English Literature. They are both very popular options and some students even choose to study both! A-Level English allows students to explore their passion for the subject, whilst analysing a range of texts and developing an array of desirable skills needed, not only for success at this level, but in the wider world as well. Both courses also perfectly complement almost all other A-Level courses.

English Language (AQA):

This course takes a somewhat ‘scientific’ approach to English. It is the study of communication, including written, spoken and mixed-mode texts. There are opportunities abound for analysis, research and creative writing: it is a varied course, which develops a vast range of skills. Assessment consists of two exam papers (Paper 1 – Language, the Individual and Society and Paper 2 – Language Diversity and Change) and two pieces of Non-Examination Assessment (A piece of creative writing with an accompanying analytical commentary and a language investigation).

Course content:

Initially, students will be introduced to a range of language methods used to analyse texts which will form the foundation for the full two-year course. As part of this, they will be introduced to a range of texts covering a range of genres, audiences and purposes. Afterwards, students will explore, through discussion, research and investigation, how language is impacted by a range of social contexts: gender, occupation, social groups, region and ethnicity. Students will be guided to demonstrate their understanding through essay responses and the production of transactional texts, such as opinion articles, leaflets and online blogs.

In Year 13, students will study Child Language Development, exploring the fascinating experiences of children as they learn to speak and write from being born up to the age of 11. In addition to this, students will also study Language Change, charting the development of English from the 1600s to the present day.

English Literature (OCR):

This course concentrates on genres of texts from various periods of history. The aim is to explore a text, identify its themes and make connections with other texts, theories and contextual factors. English Literature can afford excellent opportunities for those aiming at an academic base for exploration of Arts and Humanities subjects, but it is a rich and rewarding cultural and human experience in itself. Assessment consists of two closed text exam papers (Component 1 – Drama and Poetry Pre-1900 and Component 2 – Comparative and Contextual Study) and two pieces of Non-Examination Assessment (a study of three texts: a play, a collection of poetry and a novel, resulting in a piece of close reading and a comparative essay).

Course content:

In preparation for Component 1, students will study a Shakespeare play (such as King Richard III), a drama text (such as A Doll’s House) and poetry (such as a collection of Rossetti poems). For Component 2, students will study a genre (such as dystopia, which entails reading a wide range of texts including 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale) and then prepare for a close reading question, as well as a comparative and contextual study. This course is for those students who love to read and want to explore the world we live in through the texts of the greatest novelists, poets and playwrights!