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The English Department at St Hilda’s is proud to develop students’ cultural capital through their study of Language and Literature. Our curriculum encourages all students to question pre-conceived ideas and beliefs, interpreting the world around them with confidence and sensitivity; using this to express their own informed opinions through oracy and writing.
We will foster a love of fiction and non-fiction reading in students, who will see this as a gateway to improving their knowledge of themselves and the world as they engage with others’ stories and experiences. Through this, students will develop their emotional wellbeing and build their character. Our curriculum will give students the tools to discuss, evaluate and reflect on language use, including their own, through relevant and current local and global issues. Students will be given opportunities to direct their own creativity and topics, fostering autonomy.
Literature is at the heart of all Key Stages and we have chosen a variety of challenging texts to engage and encourage students to think independently. The Key Stage 3 curriculum focuses on challenge and depth; the thematic links between reading and writing allows students to use poetry, prose and drama texts as inspiration for their own creative writing.
Our lessons strive to develop students’ independence, resilience and analytical skills through a range of challenging activities including debates, role-play and group work. The department’s focus on developing writing skills and the promotion of accurate grammar and spelling ensures that students are fully prepared for the rigors of GCSE.
To support students academically, we run after school ‘masterclasses’ to focus on key skills at GCSE, grade 8 support sessions for most able students and GCSE A Level exam revision sessions at lunchtime and after school.
During Key Stage 3, pupils will explore a variety of theatre companies and dramatic techniques. We explore how Drama is used in both the theatre and the outside world.
At GCSE, pupils have scope to study both performance and technical elements of production which allows us to adapt the course to individual students. Extra-curricular provision has provided pupils with a wide range of exciting opportunities including watching performances; meeting and working with professional actors; exploring the backstage of working theatres and even acting on the professional stage
Details of extracurricular activities
Outside of the classroom, we offer many opportunities for students to attend trips that bring English, media and drama to life. We hold regular trips to the theatre and have visited the Harry Potter Studios, Coronation Street set and Bronte Parsonage museum in the last two years. We run lunchtime drama, film and creative writing clubs. Our sixth form students have the opportunity to become ‘Literacy Leaders’ to promote reading and literacy across the school and support younger readers through our ‘Paired Reading’ scheme. We are looking forward to launching BBC Schools News Report this year and are planning our whole school drama production.
We are very proud of our popular and well-resourced library. Pupils are eager for our fortnightly library lessons at Key Stage 3 and our librarian, Mrs Hale, is always on hand to recommend a good book. Mrs Hale also runs lower and upper school book club, the popular Pupil Librarian Scheme and encourages the whole school to dress up for World Book Day to celebrate our love for reading!
All students will study for two qualifications in English language and English Literature. Both courses follow EDUQAS GCSE (1-9). The course is challenging and wide-ranging with students studying Shakespeare, modern and pre-1914 poetry, engaging prose and drama texts and an assortment of relevant and thought-provoking non-fiction. Students will also have the opportunity to produce their own non-fiction texts and narrative pieces of writing.
There are no tiers of entry so all students will sit the same papers. The examination in the summer of year 11 is worth 100% of the qualification, therefore it is vital that students are organised with their year 10 notes and assessments, as they will need to revise independently throughout the course to maintain their knowledge of the texts and develop the skills required for success in the final exams.
Detailed specification is available at
Students will be provided with a copy of the set texts
“Literature is one of the most interesting and significant expressions of humanity.” -P. T. Barnum
Studying Literature at A Level is an enriching experience. Literature provides students with a passage to learning about the past, yet it also expands their understanding and knowledge of their world today. It enables them to ask questions, challenges their opinions and builds their critical thinking skills. Literature enables students to appreciate different cultures and beliefs, enhancing their insight and developing their ability to empathise. Above all, literature helps students connect with their own humanity, and conditions that affect all people such as love, death, justice, doubts and fears of success and failure, the need for friends and family and the goodness of compassion and empathy.
On this two-year course, students will have the opportunity to study a wide range of literature from various periods, and develop a vast number of skills. Students will follow the EDUQAS A Level specification, which is weighted 80% external examination and 20% coursework. The coursework component of the course allows students to foster their love of literature whilst developing their wider reading and independent research skills. Students will select a post 2000 novel of their choice to compare and contrast with a pre-2000 novel in a response to a question they have created. In order to produce a critical and challenging study of the chosen texts, students are required to explore the social historical contexts of the texts and engage with literary criticism. In preparation for this, students will visit the central library where they will have a tour of the library, an introduction to the academic texts and journals available to borrow, and begin to learn about formal referencing systems used when writing academic essays.
In conjunction with their studies, we give students the opportunity to visit the theatre to watch performances of the set drama texts. We also run an annual trip to the Bronte Parsonage where students have a talk on the Bronte sisters; take part in a guided tour of the local area; receive a lecture on the text they have studied and visit the parsonage museum.
Detailed specification is available at:
York Advanced Notes for set texts
This A level course reflects how language is a creative tool for expression and social connection, as well as for individual cognition. The study of language as a symbolic system used to assert power in society is also fundamental to the scope of this course. Students learn about how language is employed and manipulated by different genders and social groups to gain power, status and identity. The course also discusses regional, ethnic, national and global uses of the English language and the history of the language’s development. Students are encouraged to independently explore language and debate attitudes to language in different contexts. This creative course allows students opportunities to complete original writing for a wide range of audiences, purposes and genres.
A/AS Level English Language for AQA Student Book (A Level (AS) English Language AQA) Paperback, 2015 by Marcello Giovanelli
AQA English Language B A2, 2013 by Felicity Titjen
Media studies is a truly contemporary subject that is relevant to all our pupils’ lives. The media saturates everything we do in the 21st Century; the course equips pupils with the tools to analyse, and critique the media and understand impact that the media has on our lives.
The independent coursework component encourages students to apply their learning in a critical and creative way through exploring aspects of the media that they find most engaging. This aspect of the course involves pupils making their own films, writing their own newspapers, setting up their own websites, creating their own music videos. Pupils interact with modern technology in lots of ways, using all the customary IT programmes such as word processing and presentation software as well as video and sound editing software; this course requires students to be hard working and open-minded and respond well to deadlines.
Alongside their studies, students will have the opportunity to enjoy a range of other opportunities such as: workshops at local universities, priority screening of upcoming films, visits to the National Media Museum in Bradford for various exhibitions, the Coronation Street set and the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studies near London. There has also been the opportunity to attend the Radio City Sound Academy, where students have spent the whole day working with professional radio broadcasters, learning “the ropes” and undertaking a specially prepared creative project, marked and judged by experienced producers at Radio City. This course provides excellent networking opportunities for students wishing to embark on a broadcasting career in the future, and a wealth of experience to prepare students for Higher Education.