The English Department is staffed by a team of dedicated, creative and experienced specialist teachers. We offer three A-levels: English Literature, English Language and English Language and Literature, and an opportunity to re-sit GCSE English Language, or study GCSE English Literature. The English Department, the largest department in the College, works hard to deliver a curriculum that is exciting, thought-provoking and challenging, providing a rich range of opportunities for students to develop and master core skills. We strive to instil a genuine passion and excitement about texts and ideas, nurturing the development of communication skills, alongside creativity in all of our students. Studying English at the Sixth Form College is a stimulating and dynamic experience.
Courses Offered by the Department
Do you sound like the people on TOWIE? Do you change how you speak when you talk with older people? Does it matter if you don’t spell things correctly on social media? Studying Language is about observing how we really speak and write – the accents we use, the identities we choose, even the language rules we abuse and why we do so. It’s about the judgements we make about others because of what they write and say and how language sends out messages about how we want to be seen by others. It’s about how language defines us and our world.
On the English Language course you will study how different social groups, occupations and genders use language and how English has changed over time and continues to evolve, how new varieties of English have developed as the language has spread across the globe and how new technologies have had a dramatic effect on the words we use and how we express our ideas. You will learn about research undertaken by linguists and patterns of language use which affect us every day and which mould the views of society as well as examining how writers express opinions about language topics. And you will also learn about Child Language Acquisition - the extraordinary process by which we go from being babies who can say nothing to people who can use speech and writing to create their own identities and interact with the world.
What can I do after studying A Level English Language?
Studying English Language develops communication and analytical skills which are extremely useful in any workplace and which are applicable to studying degrees in a wide range of subjects including Linguistics, Law, Journalism, Media, Teaching, Sociology and many others.
Are you someone who enjoys lively discussion of books? Literature is a course which enables you to engage in depth with a range of powerful and inspirational texts. It involves looking at poetry, plays and novels to explore how writers create characters, tell stories and present themes. Literature lessons involve a lot of variety; most have group and whole class discussions but you will also experience creative approaches, drama activities and develop independent research skills. You will be encouraged to explore your own ideas about the texts. The course has been designed to explore how Literature reflects the time in which it was written. You will be taught how to write an effective critical essay and the skills involved in shaping and structuring ideas will be useful in all essay based subjects.
On the English Literature course you will examine changing attitudes to different aspects of love across the centuries in a novel, a range of poetry and a Shakespeare play. You will also focus on literature from recent times and reflect on how writers present the later 20th and 21st century experience. You also choose a text to write on for your Non-Examined Assessment which you will compare with a text you have been taught.
What can I do after studying A Level English Literature?
The thinking, speaking and writing skills you develop on this course are highly valued by universities and employers. We also have a great deal of experience in supporting those students who opt to take Literature at University, including Oxbridge applications. Our former students have gone on to study a wide range of subjects including History, Law, Drama and Medicine, and pursued an enormous variety of careers.
English Language & Literature
Discover a unique approach to English with Language and Literature and combine your study of novels, poems and plays with blogs, interviews, travel writing and screenplays. Read critically and think creatively, writing stories alongside essays, to broaden your study and explore a new way to think about English. This course recognises that English is not easily divided between Language and Literature. When you study the combined English, you will get the opportunity to investigate texts from a wide range of genres and periods, and become a confident reader as well as a skilled producer of original writing.
Exploring a range of speeches, graphic novels, TV scripts, letters, twitter feeds and sports commentaries will provide you with a unique perspective on how language is used in real situations and how it is adapted for fiction. You will have the opportunity to choose your own text to compare with a non-fiction text such as Stasiland, In Cold Blood or Why be Happy When You Could be Normal? You will produce your own piece of creative non-fiction that could be a blog, newspaper editorial, travel writing or biography.
Studying The Great Gatsby will provide you with an insight into how the choice of language combines with narrative techniques to create distinctive and powerful writing. Your study of narrative style, point of view, dialogue, characterisation and setting will enable you to create your own fiction writing. The combined approach of Language and Literature will include the study of a play such as The Importance of Being Earnest, A Streetcar Named Desire or Translations and a collection of poems by William Blake.
What can I do after studying A Level Language and Literature?
Our students continue their studies with a variety of degrees, such as English, Drama, Law, History and even science subjects, and pursue a range of careers including print and electronic journalism, creative writing, publishing, teaching and marketing. Language and Literature is valued by employers and universities because it develops core communication and analytical skills alongside creative thinking.
GCSE English Language
Any student who joins the College without a grade 4 or higher in GCSE English Language will be required to take this course.
GCSE English Language is all about skills, and you do not have to read or revise specific books or topics for the exams. Instead, you will brush up on your basic communication skills and work to improve your reading and writing. You will practise writing in many different forms, including articles, speeches and stories, as well as studying a variety of texts from different time periods.
We begin by finding out about you and your strengths and weaknesses in English, so that we can identify areas to work on. Then we move rapidly on to exam preparation, because we enter everyone for the November GCSE exams. If you haven't done GCSE English Language 9-1 before, you’ll also have a Speaking and Listening assessment in the first half term. You will find out the result of the November exams in January and some people will have completed the course at this point. Meanwhile, you’ll keep working on improving reading and writing skills. You’ll read a novel or some stories and you’ll get chance to craft and develop your own writing, working on deeper skills as well as exam technique. You will then have a second opportunity to take the exams in the summer.
Our students tell us that they appreciate the personalised approach and the friendly atmosphere: students who haven’t liked the subject in the past can be surprised to find that they enjoy GCSE English Language at College.
GCSE English Literature
If you like discussing ideas, you will enjoy GCSE English Literature. This course gives you the chance to study a wide range of poetry, fiction and drama, from different time periods. All of the texts raise interesting ideas about the world, and our attitudes and values to big ideas like love and loss or power and conflict. You will have a variety of opportunities to work in different ways in class, including discussion, paired and group work and individual note making. We also create study resources such as mind-maps, posters and flash cards for you to take home. When possible, you will see productions of texts we are studying.
Your assessment will be by examination and you will spend time in class learning how to structure analytical essays in timed conditions. The course helps you to improve all your communication skills. To take any English AS levels students ideally need both English Language and English Literature grade 4 or better at GCSE.
We offer Additional Studies in Creative Writing, College Magazine and Debating and extension opportunities via EPQs in both English and Creative Writing, plus a range of writing competitions and workshops.
Trips and Visits
English students are offered a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities such as trips to the theatre, cinema, lecture days and support for those applying to study English at university. We run popular residential trips including Stratford-Upon-Avon and a Creative Writing retreat to a windmill in Norfolk, and invite visiting speakers such as academics, poets, novelists, playwrights and journalists into College to talk to our students. We also participate in the Royal Shakespeare Company live streaming of their productions.
Please see our Courses page for full details of all the courses offered by the college.