English in the Sixth Form

Departmental Courses

A Level English Language

A Level English Literature

Handbooks and Summer Tasks

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 RaaschSnow Like Ashes

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

Benjamin Lee Whorf, 1897-1941

Year 12

Students will study two Prose texts – at least one of which will be pre-1900 – from an umbrella theme. Themes include: Science and Society; the Supernatural; and Crime and Detection.  This year’s texts have been drawn from the Science and Society section and include a comparison of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Students will be required to explore attitudes and values, genre features and conventions as well as exploring writer’s use of language, form and structure. Poetry is also studied as a separate module and includes poems drawn from a particular period or named poet from a designated literary period, such as Metaphysical or Romantic poetry; further Poetry studies include a selection of post-2000 poetry, including an Unseen element. 

Year 13

Students will develop their awareness of critical theory through a study of Tragedy or Comedy. Their study will include a detailed exploration of a Shakespeare Play as well as the critical analysis of a modern play. Ample time will be given for revision and development of studies as well as for the completion of their coursework unit which involves a comparison between two literary texts of their choice.


There are three exams: one each in Poetry, Prose and Drama.

Year 12

The main focus for the first year will be on skills acquisition as students become familiar with applying the linguistic theory of Stylistics to a range of texts. Texts are grouped on a theme of Telling Stories and students will focus on three main areas of study: a collection of non-fiction texts focussing on Remembered Places around the theme of Paris; a short anthology of poetry from a selected poet exploring aspects of Poetic Voices; and a literary prose text which explores aspects of Imagined Worlds.

Year 13

Students will extend their knowledge of and ability to apply Stylistics theory to a further literary prose text and a play through their study of a component entitled Exploring Conflict.  They will also need to research their own chosen linguistic and literary theories as part of their own extended coursework project: Making Connections.


There are two exams: one of 3 hours, testing the texts studied in Year 1; one of 2h 15 mins, testing the remaining two texts.

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.