English is an extremely popular, enjoyable, academically rigorous and exciting subject.  It helps make our students more articulate; better at writing both creatively and analytically and more sensitive in their appreciation of the written word.

All students take English from Year 7 until the end of Year 11 (GCSE). Both English Language and English Literature are available as A Level subjects.

Students and teachers in the department share a deep love of reading and have diverse tastes in literature. We aim to instill a lifelong love of literature and language through the study of challenging and broad-ranging texts across all years. There are also plenty of opportunities for the pursuit of extra-curricular passions including a Lower School English Club, a Reading Group for older girls, Sixth Form Seminars, National Poetry Day competitions, participation in the Carnegie Reading Scheme and Poetry by Heart competition,  and the annual highlight of the English Department calendar, World Book Day.

There are regular author visits, which in recent years have included Jamila Gavin (an NHEHS alumna) Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer; Anna McKerrow and Poet in Residence at Loughborough University, Sarah Kelly. We also undertake frequent theatre trips and have recently been to see Jacobean tragedies such as ‘’Tis Pity She’s a Whore’ at the Sam Wanamaker Theatre, as well as classics including ‘The Cherry Orchard’, ‘Hamlet’ and ‘The Crucible’.  In previous years students have enjoyed a creative writing residential with Arvon during the Easter holiday, where they were tutored by leading authors.

Years 7, 8 and 9

From Year 7, students develop analytical and creative skills in order to enhance their appreciation of literature and their ability to express these insights in a cogent, imaginative manner. There is a great deal of emphasis on independent reading and original thinking as well as the all-important firm foundation of essay writing. A variety of academic texts are studied including a Shakespeare play every year, then a range of novels, drama and poetry including the Romantics, poetry of the First World War, ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry’, ‘Animal Farm’ and  Jane Eyre’. Students follow reading schemes such as the Year 7 Reading Passport and have regular library sessions to foster a passion for reading.

Years 10 and 11

We teach the Edexcel International GCSE (IGCSE) for both English Language and English Literature in Years 10 and 11. These are thoroughly enjoyable and challenging courses.

The English Literature course involves the study of modern drama, a classic novel, a Shakespeare play and a poetry anthology. There is also a diverse non-fiction anthology which is studied along with a range of activities to explore and enhance students’ creative writing skills.  There are two pieces of coursework which combine to form 40% of the overall qualification.  This is an opportunity for students to develop their analytical appreciation of writers’ choices in depth and with rigour and precision. 

The English Language IGCSE involves two pieces of written coursework, one assessed for Reading and one for Writing. Together, these form 40% of the Language grade.  There is also a non-fiction anthology which students study in order to gain greater appreciation of differing writing styles. 

All IGCSE students will also undertake the Spoken Language Endorsement.  This is a separate qualification which involves the delivery of a speech followed by questions and answers from the audience.  This enables our students to be clear and confident communicators verbally as well as on paper.

A Level

The English Department teaches the OCR  A Level English Literature course and the AQA English Language course. Both are intellectually stimulating, rigorous and students’ results are consistently outstanding.

English Literature A Level  involves the study of literature spanning medieval poetry to modern drama and also includes a Shakespeare play and a variety of texts from the Gothic genre. 20% of the English Literature course is assessed through two coursework tasks, which involve close analytical study of modern drama and a developed comparative essay on modern poetry and prose.

The English Language course provides an introduction to key linguistic methodologies, enabling students to analyse both spoken and written texts in a variety of ways. The course explores the ideologies surrounding English Language study and its diverse uses, as well as examining language change over time and how language is acquired. 20% of the course is assessed by a portfolio including an independent language investigation into an area of linguistic study of the students’ own choice and a creative piece replicating a particular style for a specified audience and purpose.