Welcome to the English Department

At Poole High School, the English department provides an enriching, inspiring and challenging curriculum that encourages students to develop a lifelong appreciation of both the spoken and written word, whilst also understanding that the importance of communicating effectively is something they will take with them for life.

The curriculum is dynamic, carefully designed and continuously evaluated and refined, to ensure all students are taught the necessary skills that are transferable to other subjects and also prepare them for life. We strongly believe that the study of English underpins the study of their other subjects, equipping students with the core skills they need to help them read for meaning, understand and absorb content knowledge from across the curriculum and ultimately respond in different ways to the topic they are learning. 

We believe students learn best through enjoyment, enthusiasm and excitement, and that all students should have their opinions and contributions heard and respected.

Departmental Courses

  • GCSE English Literature (AQA)
  • GCSE English Language (AQA)
  • GCE English Literature (Edexcel)
  • GCE English Language (Edexcel)

Who do I contact for more information?

Mr W Clarke (w.clarke@poolehigh.poole.sch.uk)

Interleaved throughout each scheme are the key skills required for English language in both reading and writing. As our learners progress through Years 7, 8 and into 9, they will benefit from a building of these key skills to ensure that they are fully prepared for GCSE. All schemes are created and taught by subject experts who demonstrate a passion for language and literature. During each scheme, students demonstrate their ability in these skills and will receive specifically targeted and modelled, detailed feedback and time for reflection to progress their understanding and application of our knowledge-rich curriculum. At the end of each scheme, the students produce their best work in response to a specific question and have the opportunity to see for themselves how they have improved. In addition to the seven lessons a fortnight that Year 7 and 8 receive, one lesson is allocated as a reading lesson.
All our schemes are supported by carefully designed knowledge organisers that allow our students to access transferrable information, ready to apply it to their work.

Year 7s will study The Odyssey (dipping into the world of the Greek Gods); Shakespeare’s The Tempest (an introduction to a world of magic, treachery and love by the bard himself), and Oliver Twist (the play adaptation of the Dickens classic- introducing them to life in Victorian England).

Year 8s will study The Giver (a look into a bleak dystopian future); Poetry from Different Times and Places (creating empathy for a wide and varied range of cultures), and Noughts and Crosses (confronting the inequalities that exist in society).

Year 9s will study The Woman in Black (a gripping gothic ghost story); Shakespeare’s Macbeth (a gruesome play of witchcraft, regicide and regret), and will be introduced to a range of GCSE texts through short extracts including An Inspector Calls, Lord of the Flies, Blood Brothers and Never Let Me Go - in preparation for their move into Key Stage 4.

GCSE English Language

Learners will draw upon a range of texts as reading stimuli and engage with creative as well as real and relevant contexts. Learners will have opportunities to develop higher-order reading and critical thinking skills that encourage genuine enquiry into different topics and themes relevant to society today and in the past.

The course will ensure that students can read fluently and write effectively, preparing for study and life beyond GCSE. All learners will be able to demonstrate a confident control of Standard English and write grammatically correct sentences, deploying figurative language and analysing texts in detail.

For GCSE English Language students will over the two years:

• read fluently, and with good understanding, a wide range of texts from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, including literature and literary non-fiction as well as other writing such as reviews and journalism;

• read and evaluate texts critically and make comparisons between texts;

• summarise and synthesise information or ideas from texts;

• use knowledge gained from wide reading to inform and improve their own writing;

• write effectively and coherently using Standard English appropriately;

• use grammar correctly and punctuate and spell accurately;

• acquire and apply a wide vocabulary, alongside a knowledge and understanding of grammatical terminology, and linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language;

• listen to and understand spoken language and use spoken Standard English effectively.

GCSE English Language is designed on the basis that learners should read and be assessed on high-quality, challenging texts from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Each text studied will represent a substantial piece of writing, making significant demands on learners in terms of content, structure and the quality of language. The texts, across a range of genres and types, will support learners in developing their own writing by providing effective models. The texts will include literature and extended literary non-fiction, and other writing styles such as essays, reviews and journalism (both printed and online).


All students sit the same papers- there are no tiers in English Language

Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing (1 hour 45 minutes)

The aim of this paper is to engage students in a creative text and inspire them to write creatively themselves by:

• in section A, reading a literature fiction text in order to consider how established writers use narrative and descriptive techniques to capture the interest of readers;

• in section B, writing their own creative text, inspired by the topic that they have responded to in section A to demonstrate their narrative and descriptive skills in response to a written prompt, scenario or visual image.

Paper 2: Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives (1 Hour 45 minutes)

The aim of this paper is to develop students’ insights into how writers have particular viewpoints and perspectives on issues or themes that are important to the way we think and live our lives. It will encourage students to demonstrate their skills by:

• in section A, reading two linked sources from different time periods and genres in order to consider how each presents a perspective or viewpoint to influence the reader;

• in section B, producing a written text to a specified audience, purpose and form in which they give their own perspective on the theme that has been introduced to them in section A.

Non-exam assessment: Spoken language and communication

 The aim of the assessment is to allow students to demonstrate their speaking and listening skills by:

• giving a presentation in a formal context;

• responding appropriately to questions and to feedback, asking questions themselves to elicit clarification;

• using spoken Standard English.

The assessment will be separately graded and learners will achieve either a pass, merit or distinction for this part of the qualification and will be awarded separately on their certificate.

GCSE English Literature

Through literature, learners have a chance to develop culturally and acquire knowledge of the best that has been thought and written over the different time periods they study. Studying GCSE English Literature encourages learners to read widely for pleasure and as a preparation for studying literature at a higher level. We also encourage learners to:

• read a wide range of classic literature fluently and with good understanding, and make connections across their reading;

• read in depth, critically and evaluatively, so that they are able to discuss and explain their understanding and ideas;

• develop the habit of reading widely and often;

• appreciate the depth and power of the English literary heritage;

• write accurately, effectively and analytically about their reading, using Standard English;

• acquire and use a wide vocabulary, including the grammatical terminology and other literary and linguistic terms they need to criticise and analyse what they read.

Over the course of the two years, learners will study:

  • A modern novel or play from An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley, Blood Brothers by Willy Russell, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • A 19th Century novel: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • A Shakespeare play: Romeo and Juliet
  • Poetry Anthology: Power and Conflict
  • Unseen Poetry


  • All students sit the same papers - there are no tiers in English Literature

Paper 1- Shakespeare and the 19th Century Novel (1 hour and 45 minutes)

Paper 2- Modern Novel, Poetry Anthology and Unseen Poetry (2 hours and 15 minutes)

The exams will measure how students have achieved the following assessment objectives:

AO1: Read, understand and respond to texts. Students should be able to:

• maintain a critical style and develop an informed personal response;

• use textual references, including quotations, to support and illustrate interpretations.

AO2: Analyse the language, form and structure used by a writer to create meanings and effects, using relevant subject terminology where appropriate.

AO3: Show understanding of the relationships between texts and the contexts in which they were written.

AO4: Use a range of vocabulary and sentence structures for clarity, purpose and effect, with accurate spelling and punctuation.



A-level English Language

The study of English Language or Linguistics will help you understand how people communicate and assign meaning (semantics), how they do things with words (pragmatics) or how language relates to social factors (sociolinguistics), psychological aspects (psycholinguistics), or power and injustice (discourse analysis). Studying these subjects will open your eyes to a world that has previously been hidden in plain sight. I’m taking a long shot by assuming that you have seen the 1999 cult movie, Matrix – if you haven’t you really should! As one of my students said, 'Studying various aspects of language is like the awakening of the main character, Neo in The Matrix. When he swallows the red pill, he becomes aware of the false world that has been hidden from him, he learns to read ‘the code’ and understand the true nature of his world'.

By studying language in depth, you will develop critical awareness and gain invaluable skills for your future working life – vital communication, analytical and critical skills. But more importantly, such critical awareness will allow you to be a conscious, critical human being who is able to challenge taken-for-granted assumptions, understand the role of language in social control, propaganda and manipulation, and be able to use this understanding to make the world a less oppressive, more equal and just place.

Paper 1: Language Variations

Textual Variations and Representations – taking a look at texts about various subjects, from different writers and speakers, aimed at numerous audiences for various purposes, in diverse genres, modes, times and places will help you to explore how language is shaped by these differences and contexts, how it is used to construct meaning and representations, and the way it can enact relationships between the writers, speakers and audience to generate their identity - both personal and social.
Language Diversity and Change – evaluating examples of language in use such as those using different sociolects and dialects, those using language to represent different groups and those from different periods, allowing you to see how and why language varies due to personal, social, geographical and temporal contexts, and developing your critical knowledge and understanding of different views and explanations. 

Paper 2: Child Language

Learning how children develop their spoken and written skills through the assessment of various elements, you will look at how children seem to acquire language by passing through a similar set of stages, even though the time it takes to move from one stage to the next can differ from child to child.

Paper 3: Language Investigation

An option for you to investigate an area of interest to you such as the language of new communication technologies, the language of the media, language and power, or language and gender.


The chance to produce a piece of original writing based on The Power of Persuasion, The Power of Storytelling or The Power of Information, along with an accompanying commentary.


Paper 1- Examination 2 hours and 15 minutes

Paper 2- Examination 1 hour 15 minutes

Paper 3- Examination 1 hour 45 minutes

NEA: Crafting texts and using language for purpose


A-level English Literature

Our A Level English Literature specification engages learners in an extensive range of literature spanning from the established literary canon to esteemed contemporary writings of the 21st century.  Components include drama, prose and poetry with the aim of encouraging students to explore a varied range of both set and self-selected texts.


Students study the form of drama and how literary and dramatic devices are used to shape meaning:

  • Othello by William Shakespeare
  • A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams


Students will study two prose texts from the chosen theme of the supernatural.  Study will incorporate the links and connections between them and the context within which they were written:

  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison


A study of a selection of poems considering the concerns and choices of modern-day poets and a specified collection of pre-1900 poetry developing knowledge of poetic form, content and meaning.

Romantic Poetry - Poems of the Decade: post-2000 collection

Non-Examined Assessment

Students will be assessed via two independently chosen texts.  Texts may be drawn from poetry, drama, prose or literary non-fiction, linked by theme, movement, author or period.  Study includes the links and connections between texts, different interpretations and contexts.

During all schemes of learning from Years 7-13, students are led to an understanding that English plays an essential role in all our lives and helps them make progress in other subjects across the school.  They are taught that whilst aiding them in their day-to-day lives, it also helps to broaden their minds, develop their emotional skills and understanding of how others may feel, and can improve their chances of success in apprenticeships, future studies and career opportunities. English lessons will also equip learners with an understanding of what careers English opens up for them and how studying English past GCSE can help them become teachers, lecturers, marketing managers, lawyers, psychologists, speech therapists, screenwriters, journalists, public relations advisors, and publishers, to name a few.

English is a facilitating subject - a subject that is preferred by universities to get on to a range of degree courses. It helps keep options open when choosing a degree, and many of the top universities will ask learners to have at least one A level in a facilitating subject when they apply; something the English department believes in preparing students for by delivering the key skills they will need to help them with:

•    critical and evaluative thinking
•    self-management
•    excellent written communication
•    oral communication and interpersonal skills
•    research and analysis skills
•    ability to work independently