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Head of Department: Ms Grimes (Acting)

Teachers: Mrs Adil, Mrs H Burns, Mr G Chisholm, Mrs J Corp, Ms J Grimes, Ms R Lovera, Ms T Stevens, Mr S Wolstenholme

The English department is staffed by highly experienced and well-qualified teachers, all with a love of literature and dedication to promote the enjoyment of language in some of our finest culturally significant texts. By exploring traditional and progressively complex texts boys develop a growing maturity in thought, expression and language, enabling them to articulate fine responses, nurture analytical skills and achieve some of the highest results at GCSE and A level. With regular wider reading at KS3, boys bring to KS4 a mature sense of comprehension and engagement with literature, allowing a ready engagement with complex and challenging texts, both in terms of culture, language and moral issues. [updated October 2019]

Co-curricular activities

  • Annual theatre trips for each year group.
  • Weekly drop-in sessions for any boys with requests for help and support.
  • The opportunity for Sixth-Formers to provide literacy support to lower school pupils and primary schools.
  • Sixth Form residential trips to Stratford-upon-Avon or Paris to support new A level courses.
'Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.' — C.S. Lewis

Years 7, 8 and 9

Year 7 

In year 7 boys begin English with a unit of autobiographical reading and writing during which they complete assessments assessing all attainments targets. They study a novel and explore aspects of narrative technique. The year then progresses with topics covering aspects of narrative and storytelling through the centuries including an introduction to heroes in ancient myths (such as Beowulf or Greek myths) characters in the Canterbury Tales and an Introduction to Shakespeare’s theatre. The end of the year is focused on a class reading of a modern play. Throughout the year English staff embed literacy skills to ensure all boys develop growing complexity and accuracy in written expression. After their library induction at the start of the year, boys will have regular private reading sessions in the library alongside poetry lessons to foster a love of reading.

Year 8 

Boys begin to study literature in more challenging and complex ways. Across the year they study a whole class novel, a novel of pre-twentieth century fiction, and the full text of a tragedy by William Shakespeare. They will also study texts relating to animals including leaflets about animal rights and poetry including ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. They develop spoken and written language skills by studying a media unit exploring the ways in which news is constructed and shaped for audience and purpose as well as crafting more complex aspects of descriptive and narrative techniques.

Year 9

In year 9, English lessons are dedicated to developing a range of skills across different texts in readiness for GCSE. These include non-fiction texts such as magazine articles and the exploration of complex issues and persuasive writing in response to individual research. At other times all lessons focus on developing literacy and literature responses. All boys study a full GCSE standard text which is then examined in formal assessments, to nurture whole text teaching, revision skills and analytical essay writing. Boys also complete a unit of work on poetry to develop comparative writing skills. A full Shakespearean comedy is studied and explored.

National Curriculum


GCSE: Years 10 and 11

Year 10

The GCSE requires pupils to read complex and culturally significant texts with skill and sophisticated understanding; they are required to analyse how a text’s context, language, structure and form are shaped and crafted for subtle and precise purposes and effects. Pupils begin by studying the AQA anthology of set poems based on ‘Power and Conflict’ and analysing Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’. They explore reading and analytical responses to unseen prose passages and nurture examination skills writing their own texts. Later in the year they study a modern text (either a play or a novel) and continue the study of the set poems. The Year 10 exams test boys on all skills and texts studied so far, nurturing revision techniques and the learning of textual details. In the summer term all boys complete a formal speaking and listening assessment which is a presentation to an audience, followed by questions and feedback.

Year 11 

Boys read and study a full play by William Shakespeare and complete any remaining poems in the Power and Conflict anthology. When all set texts have been taught we begin a programme of regular revision and testing to ensure boys are improving their exam performance and writing under timed conditions. The development of poetry responses now includes ‘unseen’ texts. With most literature taught in year 10, year 11 includes more language based work in terms of more opportunities to explore unseen reading responses (including a comparison of an unseen 19th century text and a modern one) and the development of narrative, descriptive and argumentative or persuasive writing.

Exam Board: AQA

AQA GCSE English Language

AQA GCSE English Literature.

A Level English Literature

A Level English Literature 

Entry requirement: Grade 6 in both GCSE English Language and English Literature.

Aims and Outcomes 

The course encourages students to develop ambitious reading and analytical skills, to read widely exploring social historical contexts and reflect on how meaning is shaped by these contexts. Students study and explore the culture and identity of characters presented in a wide variety of texts, challenging themselves in their understanding of words, concepts and ideas. The most successful students read beyond the prescribed texts to develop a confident and independent voice, that analyses and discusses texts in complex ambitious ways.  

Year 12

Students study the Literature of World War One and its aftermath, developing skills in comparing texts from a range of authors and understanding the significance of context. Texts include from ‘All Quiet on the Western Front, ‘Regeneration’, ‘My Boy Jack’ and ‘Up the Line to Death’ which are then used to inform understanding of unseen texts and explore alternative views / attitudes to conflict.

Year 13

Students explore a range of texts based on the theme of ‘Love Through the Ages’. The texts cover a wide number of centuries and genres including Chaucer, Shakespeare, pre-1900 poetry and Victorian novelists, as well as looking at diversity and alternative views of love and relationships in the modern era.

Additionally, all students complete non-exam assessment (coursework) worth 20 % of the course. They write a 2500 word comparative extended essay based on two texts, at least one of which must have been written pre-1900.

Exam Board: AQA A’ Level English Literature (A) specification.

Link to Specification:

More detail

Written Exam Paper 1 - Love Through the Ages
3 hours                             40% 
Section A: Shakespeare passage based question with linked essay
Section B: Unseen poetry comparing 2 poems 
Section C: Comparison of prose and poetry texts    (25 marks each)
Open Book in Section C only

Written Paper 2 - World War 1 and Its Aftermath
2 hours 30 mins                           40% 
Section A: Set texts – one essay question on poetry.
Section B: Contextual Linking 
•    One essay on unseen extract
•    One essay linking 2 set texts            (25 marks each)
Open book in sections A and B.

Independent Critical Study (coursework)            20% 
2500 word extended essay. A comparative critical study of two texts, at least one of which must have been written pre-1900.

A Level English Language and Literature

A Level English Language and Literature

Entry requirement: Grade 6 in both GCSE English Language and English Literature.

Aims and Outcomes
The course encourages students to learn and study the structure of language and then apply linguistic analytical approaches to all texts whether they are literary or non-fiction, speech or writing. Texts range widely from erudite finely crafted pieces of literature to more mundane and ordinary discourse of other social conventions, including modern web pages, advertising and journalism. 

The course is a stylistics course, designed to foster a precise understanding of how all meaning is shaped in language at word, sentence and whole text levels. Linguistic analytical skills are essential to study widely exploring meaning shaped in social historical contexts. Students study and explore a wide variety of texts, including anthologies, novels, plays and poetry. They will also be introduced to the study of talk through transcripts and ideas of how meaning is shaped in different registers, challenging themselves in their understanding of words, concepts and ideas. The most successful students read the prescribed texts assiduously to develop a confident and independent voice, that analyses and discusses texts in precise ways.

Year 12

Students study the anthology of 30 non-fiction ‘Paris’ texts to explore the representation of place. They make a detailed study of one of four set poets, exploring how culture and social context affect meaning, and they explore a modern novel to explore how fantasy and dystopian visions  reflect important ideas about society. Exam questions range from comparative extracts of the taught Paris material, to extracts related to the whole novel and more traditional discursive essays to assess poetry.
Year 13

40% PAPER 1 ~ Telling Stories
3 hrs    A    Remembered Places CLOSED text: Paris Anthology. Analysis and comparison of two of the set texts re-printed on the paper.  40 marks    70 mins
    B    Imagined Worlds 
Set text: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ OPEN text clean copy. ONE essay question from a choice of two. Short extract with key bullet points and relate to the whole text. 35 marks    60 mins
    C    Poetic Voices
Study of set poet Donne and 15 poems. OPEN text clean copy. ONE question from a choice of two literary questions on each set poet. The question prescribes one poem that students compare to a second of their choice. 25 marks    50 mins
    Totals    100 marks    180 mins

40% PAPER 2 ~ Exploring Conflict
2 ½ hrs    A    Writing about society:
Answer two questions on the set text: ‘The Great Gatsby’ OPEN text clean copy.
1.    Re-casting the narrative in a prescribed way: focused point of view with key bullet points. 300 words
25 marks    80 mins
2.    Writing of a 400 word detailed analysis of the writing in question 1 focusing on language, links to the source text and accuracy.
30 marks    
    B    Dramatic Encounters:
Answer ONE question from a choice of two on your set play: ‘Othello’ OPEN text clean copy. Question begins with a set passage which is related to the whole play.
45 marks    70 mins
    Totals    100 marks    150 mins

20% Non-Exam Assessment ~ Making Connections
Independent investigation:
Students complete an individual investigation and write an analysis of two texts: ONE key literary text and one non-literary non-fiction making links in terms of thematic / stylistic / linguistic interests. The work is a close study of language. Students may seek support and guidance in planning and developing ideas but they may not re-draft submitted work. Students may not share sources for their independent work.
coursework    i    Introduction:
A statement of aims and interests.    750
    ii    Review:
An overview of wider reading and secondary texts    300-500
    iii    Analysis:
A detailed study and comparison of the two texts.    1250+
    iv    Conclusions:
Final observations and comments on stylistic study related to initial aims.    200-500
    v    Appendix: 
Copies of extracts and relevant materials.
References: a clear bibliography citing ALL reference or quotations and secondary sources.    -
    Totals    words    2,500-3000

Exam Board: AQA A Level English Language and Literature.

Link to Specification:

Careers Education

We have delivered key skills in letter writing and conventions of non-fiction texts such as newspapers that are taught in year 8 and revisited across KS3, with very specific formal letter writing at GCSE. Similarly we regularly use group work for class learning and discussion, with quite formal tasks in year 8 (BBC News reporting and presentations).

By GCSE all students will have been assessed a number of times for speaking and listening including formal presentations: this is a major aspect of the NEW GCSEs and all students will have to make a formal presentation and discuss the formality of language register in using Standard English.
KS5 coursework is highly independent and individual studies develop skills for university. All students are monitored to manage and develop high level academic study skills.

Successful students in English A’ level acquire a qualification that is a widely recognised and highly respected that is evidence of an analytical and erudite mind; students are able to read, argue and analyse with precision and skill at the highest levels.

Successful students in English often go on to study English Literature, America Studies, Law, Journalism and History, Linguistics, Language based courses including Creative Writing and Speech Therapy, and Cultural Studies. We are able to guide and suggest appropriate courses that will suit students and help them to understand the diversity in English Language and Literature specialisms.