We teach two English A Levels at Poole High School: English Literature and a combined English Language & Literature course, both of which are regarded as facilitating subjects at Russell Group Universities. Both courses encourage students to read a range of texts and to get to grips with a variety of linguistic and literary critical theories. Independent study and research is the key and a good attitude and determination to do well will help support students through some challenging subject matter.

“That’s why literature is so fascinating. It’s always up for interpretation, and could be a hundred different things to a hundred different people. It’s never the same thing twice.”

― Sara Raasch, Snow Like Ashes

 “Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.”

― Benjamin Lee Whorf, 1897-1941

Departmental Courses

A Level English Language

A Level English Literature

English - Handbooks and Summer Tasks

Updated: 14/04/2021 189 KB
Updated: 14/04/2021 205 KB

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 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. This helping 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, 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; although 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

Who do I contact for more information?

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

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 interpretation and context.

Who do I contact for more information?

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

English is a highly regarded subject and opens up a variety of careers including: journalism, marketing, public relations, human resources and teaching. It pairs well with a variety of other subjects from all disciplines.