English at Sir Thomas Rich's School


The principle aim of the English Department is to teach the fundamentally important skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening to every student at Sir Thomas Rich’s school. We also aim to encourage a love of literature and an understanding of the place it has in our lives. We believe that a mastery and appreciation of studies in English literature and language are the core of all academic success and we encourage students to realise this as they work across the curriculum. In English, students are building a foundation for life beyond school. We believe that students must allow reading into their lives, because it is on this that all else rests. We aim to encourage every student to appreciate the richness of the literary heritage of the world, and to appreciate the value of his or her own voice through discussion and writing in all genres. We hope that each student will discover how he or she may read, write, and speak to great effect and purpose.

Key Stage 3

In Key Stage 3 (years 7,8, and 9) all students are taught in mixed ability form groups. In studying English, pupils develop skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing that they will need to participate in society and employment. Pupils learn to express themselves creatively and imaginatively and to communicate with others confidently and effectively.

Literature in English is rich and influential. It reflects the experiences of people from many countries and times, and contributes to our sense of cultural identity. Pupils learn to become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama as well as non-fiction and media texts, gaining access to the pleasure and world of knowledge that reading offers. Looking at the patterns, structures, origins and conventions of English helps pupils understand how language works. Using this understanding, pupils can choose and adapt what they say and write in different situations, as well as appreciate and interpret the choices made by other writers and speakers. Pupils can expect to study Shakespeare in each year of Key Stage 3, alongside a contemporary novel, non-fiction, poetry and some 19th Century texts.


From September 2015, pupils will study the Edexcel specifications for GCSE English Language and Literature, with examinations for both GCSE subjects being taken at the end of Year 11.

English Language is split into two components: in Component 1, pupils will read a range of pre-1914 prose texts and answer questions on them. They will also write imaginatively. Component 2 requires pupils to read a range of 20th and 21st Century non-fiction texts and to answer questions on them. The writing section of this component requires pupils to write for different purposes and audiences.

English Literature GCSE is also examined in two components: Component 1 asks pupils questions about a post-1914 drama or prose text, and a Shakespeare play. Component 2 contains questions on poetry and 19th Century prose.

Pupils will also take a qualification in Speaking and Listening, which will not contribute to their English Language GCSE grade, but will be a separate accreditation.

A Level

From September 2015, we will be teaching the Edexcel A Level English Literature Specification. There are four parts to the A Level course:

Component 1: Drama

30% of total A Level; total of 60 marks available
Students will study one play by Shakespeare and one other from either tragedy or comedy, and critical essays related to selected Shakespeare play.


  • Written exam, lasting 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Open book (clean copies of texts are taken into the exam)
  • Two sections: students answer one question from a choice of two on each text studies
  • Section A: Shakespeare – one essay question is answered
  • Section B: Other Drama – one essay question is answered

Component 2: Prose

20% of total A Level; total of 40 marks available

Students will study two prose texts linked by a chosen theme.


  • Written exam, lasting 1 hour
  • Open book
  • One essay question is answered, which requires students to compare their two texts on a chosen theme

Component 3: Poetry

30% of total A Level; total of 60 marks available

Students will study a selection of post-2000 specified poetry and a range of poems from a literary period OR by a named poet.


  • Open book; two sections
  • Section A: students answer one question from a choice of two, comparing an unseen poem with a named poem from their post-2000 selection
  • Section B: students answer one question on their specified literary period or named poet

Component 4: Coursework

20% of total A Level; total of 60 marks available


Students have a free choice of two texts and can be poetry, prose, drama or literary non-fiction


  • Students write one extended comparative essay, referring to both texts
  • Advisory word count is 2500-3000 words

A Level Entry Requirements

We would normally expect students wishing to take English Literature at A level to have Grade 6 or above in GCSE English Language and Literature.

Life after A Level

Each year, a number of our students apply to read English at prestigious universities. The great flexibility of most UK degree subjects is reflected in the fact that 40% of vacancies advertised specifically to graduates do not specify degree subject, so English graduates can enter a wide range of careers. English graduates develop a wide range of skills that are valuable to graduate employers including: how to argue a point, how to think independently, to summarise and précis, to write and speak well, to write reports, to present information effectively and to work as part of a team. Possible career choices after completing an English degree include: publishing, events management, accountancy, insurance, civil service, local government, journalism, PR, management consultancy, media, teaching, law, banking, retail.