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Literature is the art of discovering something extraordinary about ordinary people, and saying with ordinary words something extraordinary. Boris Pasternak

The study of English in all its aspects, including both the written word and the spoken word, is integral to many areas of academic life, but it does not stop there – the skills acquired are used extensively in the workplace and research indicates that there is a close correlation between oral and written fluency and success in the world of work.

The English Department strives to develop proficiency in expression through a whole range of activities. The Department teaches in depth the skills required to analyse all forms of literature, encouraging the students to pay close attention to the words and phrases used by writers. Staff also use and teach some of the techniques that professional authors employ themselves in the drafting and polishing of their novels, poems and plays. 

English Language and Literature are taught as separate GCSEs, following the Edexcel iGCSE specification. At A level, the Department offers English Literature and currently follows the Edexcel specification.

Reading is, of course, key and the Department aims to foster a love of reading through structured programmes, which include small discussion groups at lunchtimes and time allocated to studying in the College’s exceptionally well-stocked Library. All students in KS3, including those entering Form 1, are invited to take part in a Reading Challenge over the summer holidays. This involves the reading of a short novel, often related to the topic of study in the Michaelmas Term, along with a written task, which may be a review of the book or a piece of creative writing.

For the more experienced, the Department offers a range of challenging texts, which can be explored in depth. One example of this is the formation of a group of students, who decided amongst themselves which of the shortlisted Booker Prize novels should receive the award. Experience to date suggests that the boys do not always agree with the judges!

English offers a number of opportunities for careers. Media, journalism and creative writing are the obvious choices, but it is also important to recognise how communication skills can benefit all areas of activity. The Department has an active debating programme, competing against other schools, and each year there is an Inter-House Public Speaking Competition, which allows the boys to showcase their oral skills.