Poole Grammar School, Gravel Hill, Poole, Dorset, BH17 9JU | Tel: 01202 692132 | Email: pgsoffice@poolegrammar.com
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English & Literacy

Fiction reveals truth  that reality obscures”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

American philosopher and essayist

The English Language is nobody’s special property.  

It is the property of the imagination: it is the property of the language itself.”

Derek Walcott

St. Lucian poet

Nobel Prize for Literature 1992 

The English Department at Poole Grammar School has been awarded for several years the Prince’s Teaching Institute mark for excellence in leadership.

 What will I learn?

English is a core subject and is therefore, necessarily, taught throughout all year groups at Poole Grammar School. At KS3 the timetabling allocation is as follows:

English Year 7 – 7 hours a fortnightly cycle

English Year 8 – 5 hours a fortnightly cycle

English Year 9 – 5 hours a fortnightly cycle

English is compulsory at GCSE and it becomes two separate subjects English Language and English Literature. The two are taught together by the same teacher for 7 hours a fortnightly cycle in Year 10 and 6 hours a fortnightly cycle in Year 11. We use the AQA exam board for both courses.

At A-level both English Literature and English Language are offered as separate subjects. Each A-level class, in line with school policy, is taught by two teachers for a total of 9 hours a fortnight. We use the Edexcel exam board for English Literature and the AQA exam board for English Language. Several students each year choose to study both the Language and the Literature course.

Students will develop their competencies in all four of the key skill areas: speaking, listening, reading and writing. They will also develop a thorough knowledge and appreciation of the English language from its early linguistic beginnings and in English literature a knowledge and appreciation of the literary canon from the early literature of Chaucer and later Shakespeare through to the present day. At A-level we widen the study from British to world literature written in English. Throughout these journeys in the English classroom we are teaching the abilities to comprehend and evaluate a variety of issues within a variety of social, political, cultural and literary contexts and frameworks. English lessons build contextual understanding and require the students to question their moral stance and become critically aware. English very obviously links to ideas concerning developing an appreciation for international values and global citizenship as well as the PHSE curriculum.

A number of students each year leave Poole Grammar School to pursue university degrees at prestigious universities, including Oxbridge, in a variety of English subjects (literature, linguistics, drama) whilst others pursue more vocational courses at drama schools or within journalism.

What will I do?

In Years 7 and 8, English lessons are designed to develop the necessary skills and aptitudes as study advances through the key stages and increases in difficulty and expectation. Lessons include individual, paired and group work and tasks are often focused on encouraging a sensitive and perceptive response in students to all forms of language often through the study of high quality literature. Independence of thought is fostered often initially through discussion followed by reading and/or writing tasks. 

In Years 7 and 8 one English lesson a fortnight is a designated Literacy lesson. In these lessons students either follow a reading for pleasure course with awards which is based in the library, or in their English classroom they learn the specific reading and writing skills required at KS4 for GCSE English Language.

By the summer term of Year 9 the boys begin to study some of the Power and Conflict poetry from the AQA GCSE English Literature anthology and learn the reading and writing skills for GCSE English Language Paper 2. This is the Writers’ viewpoints and perspectives paper and requires the study of a variety of forms of writing: broadsheet newspaper articles, speech writing, letter writing, leaflet writing and essay writing.

Will I get homework?

Homework is set according to the school’s homework timetable for each of the year groups. Homework tasks are set to consolidate learning in the classroom and to provide students with opportunities to reinforce their knowledge of the subject.

Students receive three pieces of homework of approximately 30 mins duration each per two week cycle for English in Years 7-9.

At GCSE, four homework tasks of approximately 45 mins are set per two week cycle for English and these vary as required between the two courses, English Language and English Literature.

For both A Level English Language and A-level English Literature, homework is set every lesson and will differ in quantity and duration according to the topic or text being studied. Work outside of homework tasks is expected for A-level study. This may include reading extensively in order to decide on coursework texts or types of writing as well as studying critical or theoretical materials to enhance critical interpretations of texts or types of language being studied.

Homework tasks vary according to year group and the topic studied. Homework tasks will include preparatory work for speaking and listening, researching topics or issues, writing paragraphs to consolidate learning, reading set texts and reading for pleasure. 

 How will I be assessed?


Students in Years 7 to 9 are assessed every half term in English. The assessments are the culmination of study for the particular text or course of study for the half term.


 Students at GCSE level are assessed on skills and questions based on exam requirements and questions regularly throughout the courses.

At the end of Year 10 students will take the first part of the AQA English Language qualification:

  • AQA NEA English Language on Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

At the end of Year 10 students are given exams on both courses:

  • GCSE English Literature Paper 1 Section A (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet)
  • GCSE English Language Paper 1

In the mock examinations the Year 11 students are given exams on both courses:

  • GCSE English Literature Paper 1

(Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet and Dickens, A Christmas Carol)

GCSE English Language Paper 2    


Students at A-level are assessed on skills and questions based on exam requirements and questions regularly throughout the courses.

A-level English Literature.

The exam board we use is Edexcel.

At the end of Year 12 students are given exams on:

  • Paper 1 Section B, Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Paper 2 Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns

In the mock examinations the Year 13 students are given exams on:

  • Paper 3 Section A, Poems of the Decade poetry
  • Paper 2 Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns

A-level English Language

The exam board we use is AQA

At the end of Year 12 students are given exams on:

  • Language Diversity

In the mock examinations the Year 13 students are given exams on:

  • Child Language Acquisition
  • Language Variation

What guidance and support is available?

Students who need additional support should speak to their subject teacher in the first instance, as they are best placed to recommend additional resources and guidance. Mrs Urquhart-Barham runs weekly support sessions during assembly time for students for Years 7-9.

At GCSE and A Level, ongoing support sessions are offered throughout the year by students’ individual teachers as necessary and later in the spring term of Year 11 revision classes are organised on a regular basis. Moodle also contains supportive online resources so that study from home is also supported.

What extra-curricular opportunities are available?

 To extend the curriculum we engage in extra curricular activities within the classroom as follows:

BBC 500 competition

Poetry by Heart competition

For all year groups The Muse Creative Writing Club meets to write and share writing at 1.30pm in Room S5 every Friday lunch time.

For GCSE and A-level there are various extra-curricular activities arranged as follows:

  • Lecture days in London on texts and courses are arranged for both GCSE and A-level study.
  • Theatre visits are arranged for the students to experience productions of GCSE and A-level set texts.
  • Lectures and workshops are arranged as appropriate with outside speakers to share their expertise. David Mason a performance poet visits each summer to inspire the Year 7 students.
  • The students are encouraged through classroom activities to enter national writing and performance competitions for example the BBC 500 word competition and the Poetry by Heart competition.
  • Each summer term both the A-level English Language and English Literature classes are given the opportunity to work with University of Exeter postgraduate students and The Dorset County Museum to extend both their linguistic understanding of language over time and contexts of Hardy and his writing.
  • Each summer the English department runs ‘Victorian Day’ for the whole of Year 9 to build cultural capital and extend the contextual understanding of their study of Victorian literature. This involves the input of several outside providers including The Priest’s House Museum, Wimborne, The Royal Signal’s Museum, Bovington Camp, The National Trust and the AsOne Theatre Company.