English Department


Effective communication draws people together and is a source of inspiration and wisdom but, as technology develops, some methods of interaction change whilst new ones appear. At St Columba’s we therefore ensure our pupils are taught to thrive in such a varied landscape and to become confident, versatile communicators, grounded in the fundamentals of grammar and punctuation.

Great literature is the birth right of all and by exposing our boys to a range of texts from across the centuries and around the globe, we help them explore not only some of the greatest stories but also some of the most profound ideas, puzzles and enlightenments of our age and of the human condition.


These rights to communicate and to access great literature are universal so we ensure that whatever barriers a pupil may face, whatever their individual requirements might be, their lessons will be tailored to their needs. At St Columba’s, all pupils will experience the amazing opportunities and rewards that studying English has to offer.


We recognise that in the real world we do not experience subjects as ‘discrete’ units, but as intertwined and interconnecting. As such, the English department at St Columba’s takes care to draw links between our own schemes of work and material covered in other subjects. Where possible, we will link with concepts of science and of mathematics: the maths of poetic form, for example.

Year 7
Term 1 ‘Alter Ego’. Exploring issues of identity through contemporary and pre-1914 texts, pupils will discover the fundamentals of narrative and have many opportunities to develop their own creative writing. They will also study a range of poetry from across the ages, focussing on the foundations of poetry and poetic techniques.
Term 2 ‘English through the Ages’. This begins by exploring the origins of the language we speak, looking at how many of the words used today have their origins in other cultures. Next, the boys will study Chaucer- in its original form and in other interpretations- and then progress to Shakespeare, examining the journey from page to stage. Pupils will also begin the process of learning how to write academically.
Term 3 ‘Writing the World’. In the summer term, pupils will learn about a range of non-fiction text types. They will learn about the art of rhetoric and persuasion, and will study and analyse the ways print and visual media communicate their messages to us. Pupils will also study a series of pre-1914 short stories and will consider how visions of the world we live in have changed over time.
Year 8
Term 1 ‘Heroes and Villains’. In this thematic unit, pupils will develop their understanding- begun in Year 7- of how narratives work. They will study a range of contemporary fiction and begin analysing and comparing the ways authors influence readers. Pupils will develop their own writing skills further, working towards producing more complex narratives. Year 8 will also study war poetry.
Term 2 ‘Tragedy’. Pupils will begin by learning about the origins of drama by exploring classic Greek poetry and then trace the concept of tragedy through Shakespeare and his contemporaries to modern day drama. Pupils will expand their critical skills as they develop their ability to compare, and to express ideas in academic writing.
Term 3 ‘Making it Clear’. Pupils will widen their understanding of the conventions of non-fiction writing, particularly to inform and to explain. They will also explore how methods of communication vary, depending on audience and form. In addition, they will study a range of short stories and texts from a range of eras and nations.
Year 9
Term 1 ‘Dystopia’. Pupils will further develop their ability to write dramatic, affecting stories, inspired by great dystopian fiction. They will also explore how form can be manipulated for effect both in narrative and in poetry.
Term 2 ‘Verse’. Pupils will complete an in-depth study of a Shakespeare play and write a GCSE style response using their enhanced essay writing skills, which are a key focus for this term. They will also explore some modernist poetry and have opportunities to perform poetry by heart.
Term 3 ‘Transition’. This term marks the change from Key Stage 3 to GCSE work and pupils will begin the in-depth study of the first of their exam set texts. Pupils will also develop a more sophisticated understanding of the art of argument and debate.



Change is in the air for GCSEs. Whilst planning is taking place for the implementation of the new syllabus in 2015, for current Year 10s and 11s, the path is clear. All pupils will study the AQA English Literature qualification, with full text studies of British and American novels, alongside a range of historical and contemporary poetry. In Year 11, pupils will also undertake a major study of a Shakespearean play.

At St Columba’s we follow the iGCSE course from the Cambridge Exam board- the gold standard for GCSE qualifications. For this, pupils will build on the reading and writing skills developed at Key Stage 3 and will be exposed to a range of high quality non-fiction, in all forms, and from across the centuries. They will heighten their skills of analysis and inference along with their understanding of a writer’s craft. In Year 10 they will also complete a coursework portfolio which showcases their ability to write creatively, informatively and analytically. There is also a compulsory speaking and listening element that requires pupils to present informatively whilst also testing their ability to build an argument and take part in informed discussion. Boys will practise these skills throughout Year 10 in preparation for the assessment in the spring term of Year 11.

The English Department at St Columba’s also offers opportunities for pupils to enrich their experience of Language and Literature beyond the GCSE syllabus and we hope that all of this means that we send our pupils into the world as articulate, inquisitive and well-read young men.

Last updated: February 22, 2017 at 8:37 am

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