“I assert literature to contain the materials which suffice for thus making us know ourselves and the world. ”
- Matthew Arnold
Why Study English?
The skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening are of vital importance for a pupil's future, making English a uniquely important subject, underpinning any successful academic career. English gives its students the resources through which they will arrive at a greater understanding of their world and themselves, and also the ways and means through which they communicate that understanding, in practical or imaginative forms. Proficiency as a reader and writer can add immeasurably to an individual's chances in both career, and life generally: a love of literature - prose, poetry and drama – helps bring young people into a cultured adult community.
At King's we share the intention of inspiring, while ensuring that the compulsory study of English and English Literature in the 3rd form and GCSE develops critical and analytical thinking, reading and listening skills, and equips all young people with accurate and expressive communication skills.
The Third Form explore fiction and non-fiction, poetry and drama as an introduction to the GCSE years. In the Fourth and Fifth forms, pupils are in five streamed sets. The vast majority take CIE IGCSE English Language and English Literature as separate qualifications. At A level, pupils can opt for English Literature (OCR). English is a popular subject at this level, studied with great success over recent years, and we have seen many pupils going on to read English or study closely-related subjects at Russell Group universities
Open a Book and You Open Your Mind ...
Specialist teaching is available for those pupils who speak English as an Additional Language: new international pupils in the Lower Sixth are expected to take an English qualification – IGCSE or IELTS – alongside their Sixth Form subjects.
The library is a vital resource for us, and integrated private reading encourages reading for pleasure. Research reading skills are also taught. Theatre trips are for all age groups an important and regular feature, as are trips to places of literary significance where appropriate.
The Sixth Form English Society combines academic matters with a social occasion about twice a term, and offers the more ambitious a chance to explore their wider interests. The Department runs the college news magazine, The Pelican Post, to which pupils in all years are encouraged to contribute. The annual Poetry Recitation Competition sees all pupils compete for year group prizes, leading to the final where winners recite for the whole school; while the House Spelling Bee has been a popular and tensely-contested event to end the year for lower school pupils.
English Literature at A Level
Our Head of English, Toby Smith, details course content for our A level English literature course.
As in all subjects, pupils are actively encouraged to enter competitions and events outside King's. Former Fifth Form pupil, Eleanor C did just that in 2019, submitting an entry into the BBC National Short Story Award. Very well received, her story was shortlisted from across the very best young writing talents in the UK to the final five – a fantastic achievement.
Annual Recitation Competition
Toby read English at Cambridge, then taught English as a Foreign Language in Russia and Paris for four years before completing his PGCE at Bristol University. He joined King's College in 2007.
Emma studied English at St Hugh's College, Oxford, and completed a PGCE at Exeter University. She taught in a London comprehensive school for three years before joining King's College in September 2009.
Fran has an MA in English and Philosophy from Edinburgh University. As well as teaching English, Fran is a deputy housemistress (Carpenter), co-ordinates our Horizon Lectures and manages our Sixth Form social events. She also plays hockey for a national league club side, having won England selection at U16 and U18 levels.
Oliver is our Head of Sixth Form, and a member of the English department. He studied English and Related Literature at the University of York. He enjoys teaching a wide range of literature and was formerly Head of English at Lancing College.