Head of Faculty: Miss A Boys
Teaching Staff: Mrs K James, Miss F Wood, Miss A Boys
Level of teaching: Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Key Stage 5 at The New Sixth

Communication is at the very heart of what it means to be human. Our job in the English Department is to empower young people to read, write, speak and listen to a high standard, enabling them to interact with others and hold productive and satisfying positions in society.

English is the predominant language of global business and it is crucial for students to become confident communicators. Competition in the jobs market is fierce and our students have to show they are sophisticated users of their first language when faced with rivals from the emerging economies. Our central aim is for all students at St Mark’s to at least achieve the gold standard of a C grade in English/English Language which allows them to access most tertiary level courses.

Of course, English is not only the means to future employment: the reading and analysis of great literary works enriches students and broadens their world view. Alongside a solid grounding in functional communication skills, we feel that it is also our duty to pass on our love of literature so that students embark on reading journeys that last a lifetime. At St Mark’s we introduce pupils to a broad range of classical and modern writers, from Geoffrey Chaucer to Cormac McCarthy.

For further information about this course, please email the Head of Faculty, Miss A Boys
or telephone him on 01225 312661.

Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9)

By providing a varied, enjoyable but also challenging curriculum in the first 3 years at St Mark’s we aim to inculcate a love of language and a well-grounded confidence in deploying it with accuracy and panache. The study of English embraces the world of ideas – and we help pupils to become discerning readers and persuasive writers through studying many different types of writing across a wide range of media. At the core of the curriculum is studying works of literature: drama, poetry, novels and short stories. Through our promotion of reading, use of library lessons and studying of great fiction we aim to inspire in our pupils a love of reading that will last a lifetime. (The curriculum is designed around the government directive of pupils having to study at least one Shakespeare Play, 2 novels, and a range of writing and literacy skills each year at Key Stage 3).

Year 7

Terms 1 & 2

  1. ‘Spies’: looking at different forms of non-fiction writing grouped around the topic of espionage e.g. adverts, reports.
  2. Studying the Novel: developing a literary understanding of aspects of a novel e.g. characterisation.

Terms 3 & 4

  1. Reporting the News – investigating the characteristics of newspaper articles.
  2. ‘Love that Dog’ – exploring poetry through studying great poems and writing your own.

Terms 5 & 6

  1. Studying the Novel: examining the use of language and literary devices in a novel and looking at the impact of these techniques.
  2. The World of Shakespeare – exploring life and language in Tudor times and reading a play by Shakespeare.


Year 8

Terms 1 & 2

  1. Studying the Novel: developing close reading skills and an appreciation of themes and motifs plus learning how to write a script.
  2. Poetic Forms – investigating different forms of poems e.g. haikus, cinquains, the sonnet, through study and own writing

Terms 3 & 4

  1. Classical Novel – the study of a classic or 19th century text with an emphasis on the influence of the social and historical context.
  2. Opinion Piece: Writing to argue and persuade and the study of a range of articles in newspapers, magazines and on line.

Terms 5 & 6

  1. A Play by Shakespeare – learning to analyse Shakespeare’s language and understand the themes and structure of his plays.
  2. Genre Study: Gothic – experimenting with writing in the gothic style having read extracts from famous gothic novels such as ‘Dracula’.


Year 9

Terms 1 & 2

  1. Study of either First World War Poet or a Poet and their Poems. Exploring a group of poems linked by theme or author and learning to compare and contrast themes, ideas, techniques, impact and attitudes.
  2. Reading for Pleasure – pupils study the principles of how novels are constructed through reading a novel of their own choosing. They experiment with writing an additional passage for the novel or transforming an existing part of it.

Terms 3 & 4

  1. Individual spoken presentation. Pupils give a formal talk on a subject of their choice to learn the skills of public speaking.
  2. Exam: revision and preparation and for a two hour exam comprising a test of reading (comprehension and literary appreciation) and writing skills (applied, transactional writing e.g. letters).
  3. Shakespeare – developing study and essay skills through the close reading and discussion of a play by Shakespeare.

Terms 5 & 6

  1. Travelling and Telling – developing writing skills and understanding of different formats of writing through the reading and emulating of contemporary travel writing texts.
  2. Studying the Novel/Collection of Short Stories by the same Author (e.g. Sherlock Holmes). The effect of different narrative techniques is explored by evaluating the impact they have in the chosen work of fiction.
  3. Unseen Poetry – learning to appreciate poems from scratch.

Key Stage 4 (Years 10 and 11)

English at GCSE is a demanding, rigorous and enjoyable subject ranging from the study of great works of literature to techniques on how to be an able and dextrous writer.

At Key Stage 4 pupils study both English Language and English Literature in preparation for their GCSEs which is taught in an integrated course over two years. This means we switch between English Language and English Literature topics over the terms teaching complementary skills and knowledge while maintaining pace and variety and, so, an enthusiastic engagement with the subject.

The new style GCSEs have created new challenges: pupils are now assessed entirely by terminal examinations in Year 11 and the pass criteria have been made more stringent. In practise this means that for their English Language GCSE they will sit two exam papers which total 3 ¾ hours. For their English Literature GCSE they will sit a further two exam papers which total 4 ½ hours. Consequently, we have structured our course to teach the subject content and to build stamina and resilience by frequent practising of exam techniques so that exams should be second nature to them, for instance they will sit two sets of mock exams in Year 11. We wish our pupils to be confident in their own skills enabling them to succeed to the best of their abilities.

Course Codes:
GCSE English Language EduqasC700QSL
Exam Board Specification: http://www.eduqas.co.uk/qualifications/english-language/gcse/

GCSE English Literature EduqasC720QSL
Exam Board Specification: http://www.eduqas.co.uk/qualifications/english-literature/gcse/

Year 10

Terms 1 & 2

  1. English Language – Component 2: 19th and 21st century non-fiction writing. Pupils learn about life and language in Victorian England, focusing on attitudes and outlooks as well as reading many contemporary non-fiction texts to compare attitudes.
  2. English Language – Component 2: Transactional writing. Through practicing writing in different forms pupils develop a range of literary and literacy skills.
  3. English Literature – Component 2: Studying Post-1914 Prose/Dramae.g. ‘A Woman in Black’ or ‘The Lord of the Flies’ or ‘An Inspector Calls’. Characters, relationships, themes, ideas and techniques, plus the historical context, are studied in depth for pupils to gain an appreciation of the chosen text.

Terms 3 & 4

  1. English Literature – Component 1: Poetry for 1789 to the Present Day in the Anthology (Part 1). Close study of selected poems grouped around a central topic, e.g. war or relationships, from the 18 poems they must learn from the Anthology.
  2. English Language – Component 1: 20th century literature and creative writing. Learning to discuss their appreciation of texts in a precise and succinct manner while enhancing their own literary writing skills.

Terms 5 & 6

  1. English Literature: Component 1: Shakespeare. Close study of one play by Shakespeare chosen from ‘Macbeth’, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ or ‘The Merchant of Venice’.
  2. English Language Components 1 and 2: revision and preparation for these two mock exam papers.
  3. English Literature: Component 1: Poetry for 1789 to the Present Day in the Anthology (Part 2). Close study of more poems grouped around a central topic, from the 18compulsory poems in the Anthology.

Year 11

Terms 1 & 2

  1. English Literature: Component 2: 19th Century Prose e.g. ‘A Christmas Carol’ or ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’.
  2. Mock exams: revision and preparation for 2 papers: English Language Component 2 (non-fiction) and for English Literature with essays on the Shakespeare text and the 19th century novel.

Terms 3 & 4

  1. English Literature: Component 2: Unseen Poetry from the 20th and 21st Century. Learning to appreciate the content and style of previously unseen modern poems and learning to compare and contrast the content, attitudes and techniques presented in these texts.
  2. Mock Exams – revision and preparation for Mock exams testing the elements as yet untested i.e. English Language Component 1 (literary fiction and creative writing) and English Literature: essays on Post 1914 Drama/Prose and Poetry from the Anthology and Unseen Poetry.
  3. Spoken Language Presentation.

Terms 5 & 6

  1. A structured revision programme, including lots of past papers and exam practice, for each of the 4 exam papers.
    NB. Literature exams are normally at the end of term 5 and the Language exams are normally at the beginning of Term 6.


Key Stage 5 (Years 12-13) taught at The New Sixth

Course Code: A Level English Literature AQA 7711/2 (2015 onwards)
Course Code: A Level English Language and LiteratureEdexcel9ELO 2015
Course Code: WJEC GCSE English (2016) Eduqas English Language C700QS (2017 onwards)

At KS5 students are given the opportunity to study either A Level English Literature or A Level English Language and Literature. In 2015 we will be offering the following courses:

A Level English Language and Literature Edexcel
Exam Board Specification: http://www.edexcel.com/quals/gce/gce15/eng-lang-lit/Pages/default.aspx

The A Level courses involves students interpreting, analysing and commenting on a diverse and thought-provoking range of both literary and linguistic texts, including novels, plays, poetry, literary non-fiction and spoken language. In addition to responding creatively and independently to texts in a technically accurate way, students will get the chance to transform texts, inspired by the writers they are studying. The course offers students the opportunity to study a rich variety of literary genres, as well as improving speaking and listening skills and developing personal qualities.

A Level English Literature AQA Specification A
Exam Board Specification: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/as-and-a-level/english-literature-a-7711-7712
This course involves reading and engaging with an exciting and challenging range of texts: poetry, drama and prose. Some are set texts, used for ‘close study’, and others are chosen by students themselves as part of their ‘wider reading’. Ambitious to become confident literary critics, students will need to engage with research and develop links with context. By studying English Literature, students will learn to view the world around them with different eyes, developing skills of perception and critical awareness.

For more information on A Level English Language and Literature, click here.

For more information on A Level English Literature, click here.