GCSE English

GCSE English Language

GCSE English Literature

A Level English Literature

The English Department aims to foster a life-long love of learning in our pupils. We encourage them to develop the skills and resilience needed for successful, independent study at all levels, the ability to communicate effectively, the empathy to engage with others’ ideas, and the creativity and confidence to respond to what they encounter.

A diverse and engaging enrichment programme enhances pupils’ classroom experience. The ‘Learning Outside The Classroom’ expeditions for Years 9 and 10 form an integral part of the teaching of key skills: pupils are encouraged to engage with the physical world around them, to explore the practical use of English in everyday life, and then connect these experiences to their own studies. National Poetry Day and World Book Day are celebrated throughout the Foundation, and regular trips to the theatre, cinema and live-stream events take place, alongside talks and workshops from poets and authors. Furthermore, pupils are encouraged and supported in developing pieces for submission to Creative Writing, Spoken English and Public Speaking competitions, both internally and externally.

Year 9 pupils are introduced to a wide range of writers, genres and media, with a key focus being on how to learn, such as the ability to respond critically to a variety of texts, to be a creative thinker, to develop skills as an independent enquirer and reflective learner, and to be a strong team worker: for example, in the Michaelmas term, pupils will study Conan Doyle and writers who have been influenced by the landscapes of the South West (like Hardy and Lawrence), travel to Cornwall where they hone their descriptive writing skills, then pull all of these experiences together to produce their own murder mystery. Later in the year, they will explore poetry, film and media, as well as actively engaging with, and performing excerpts from, Romeo and Juliet. Pupils are streamed according to ability, but classes follow parallel schemes of work so movement is possible between sets, if deemed appropriate. Pupils’ progress is monitored through regular informal and formal assessments, with emphasis placed on enabling pupils to identify, understand and develop the skills needed for success at GCSE and A Level.

At GCSE, the new AQA syllabus is followed for both Literature and Language. All pupils will study both courses in Year 10, with the majority continuing with both for examination in Year 11, although some will focus solely on Language in Year 11 in order to maximise their potential. The GCSE Literature programme places emphasis on studying texts from a range of genres and eras, from Mary Shelley's 1818 classic, Frankenstein to Alan Bennett's The History Boys. This focus on breadth of exposure is carried through to the Language course, where pupils study both fiction (Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing) and non-fiction (Paper 2: Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives) from several eras, developing their critical and analytical abilities alongside the techniques for producing a wide range of written forms, from creative writing to formal letters, articles and leaflets. For both courses, there is a strong focus on quality, not only in the texts that pupils study, but also in the accuracy of their written responses.

For A Level pupils, the new AQA Literature B course encourages them to engage with literature through the lens of Tragedy or Crime writing, focusing on intertextual connections between texts and writers as diverse as Crabbe, Hardy, Shakespeare, McEwan and Greene. Broadening pupils’ understanding of these connections brings opportunities for Sixth form pupils to develop a wider contextual appreciation of their texts through specific visits and external speakers, such as the chance to talk to a criminologist, visit a local courtroom or explore the physical locations of key texts. The coursework element allows pupils to demonstrate their ability as independent learners; pupils will select and explore their own choice of titles whilst honing their skills in decision making, note-taking, research, planning and drafting – all of which means the English A Level continues to be highly regarded by universities and employers.