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GBHS students learn English to…

  • Engage and excite students, equip them with high levels of articulacy and encourage their intellectual curiosity.
  • Nurture a lifelong love of English that promotes and maintains positive mental health as well as giving them a deeper understanding of British literature and other cultures.
  • Beyond the acquisition of English qualifications, students develop empathy.
  • Students are encouraged to voice their opinions; students practise vital skills in communication.
  • Preparing students to be well-rounded, articulate, young people.

At KS5 GBHS students learn literature to…

  • Develop a deeper enjoyment of literary study through reading widely and critically and with sophistication.
  • Students develop a critical perspective and form their own opinions on texts.

At KS5 GBHS students learn language to…

  • Explore language in context and how language is affected by a variety of aspects such as power, gender, occupation, accent and dialect.
  • Encourage students to develop an interest in and enjoyment of language.
  • Developing vital skills in analysis, communication, argument and creativity.

The courses we run

Key Stage 3

In Years 7 to 9, work is based around the National Curriculum/National Literacy Strategy. It is centred on developing core skills in each of the three strands of the subject though a range of engaging topics.

Key Stage 4

In Years 10 to 11, the new AQA English Language and Literature courses are followed. Traditional aspects of reading for meaning and writing in a variety of different styles and genres is developed. For elements of Language and for Literature, a variety of prose, drama and poetry texts are studied including a 19th century novel and a play by Shakespeare. Both GCSEs are assessed in four examinations at the end of year 11 and include an additional speaking and listening task that is accredited separately.

Key Stage 5

In the Sixth Form, the AQA GCE A level courses in both English Literature and English Language are offered. Students are required to complete a NEA piece of coursework in addition to final examinations in the summer.

English Language includes understanding the seven linguistic frameworks of language analysis and applying these to context, for example considering how occupation, gender, geographical location and power affect language use. Students also explore the acquisition of language by children and how language changes over time. Two examinations are completed at the end of the course.

In English Literature, students study over 700 years of, mostly, British and American literature. The focus of study is Love through the Ages, covering social and family relationships as well as romantic relationships.

Items of particular interest

English Faculty staff continually seek to challenge and improve both the range of experience available to our students and their levels of performance. Achievement at Key Stage 3, GCSE and A level continually improve.

The English department work closely with fantastic staff in the library, who help to arrange activities that continue to build passion and develop engagement in the subject. In recent years, our KS3/4 students have enjoyed visiting theatre companies, authors and poets, including Darren Shan, Gillian Cross and Adisa. In many cases, these visits have included specifically-created workshops and competitions for small groups of students to engage in.

Students in Key Stage 3 are also encouraged to participate in the Essex Book Awards each year by reading the nominated novels and posting their reviews online. Every year, at least one of the nominated authors is invited into school to run a workshop for our students and those from other local schools who have been invited to attend.

One group of students in Key Stage 4 are encouraged to participate in the Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge each year. All participants develop confidence in public speaking as well as building strong bonds with the rest of their class. One student then goes onto represent the school in the Regional Final of the competition, which is a very exciting event.

Social, Moral, Cultural and Spiritual education through the English Department at GBHS.

The English Department are proud to offer a range of Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural experiences through English lessons and extra-curricular activities. Students express their creativity and understanding of other cultures through their study of literature and non-fiction texts. Competitions and clubs are offered to allow students to develop and showcase their skills, knowledge and experiences through SMSC in English.

Spiritual Development within English

Novel choices include ‘Oliver Twist’, ‘Treasure Island and ‘Of Mice and Men’’: awareness of prejudice, hardship, discrimination and disability Poetry unit includes ‘Relationships’ - sense of identity and self-worth

Text choices include ‘An Inspector Calls’ ‘The Sign of Four’ and ‘A Christmas Carol’: awareness of class systems, discrimination and sexism.

English texts explore relationships and issues such as loyalty, betrayal and ethical behaviour.

Moral development within English

Shakespeare choices include ‘The Tempest’, ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ – exploring choices made and moral values. Speaking and listening discussions and debates on topical issues, such as conflict and crime.

Poetry unit, ‘Conflict and Power’ – Covers areas such as: WW1, gender, prejudice and discrimination.
Text choices include ‘An Inspector Calls’, ‘Macbeth’, ‘The Sign of the Four’ and ‘A Christmas Carol’ – discrimination (racism, sexism and ageism), social values and friendship.

Literature ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ – social values and moral decisions compared with contemporary society.
Poetry unit:– social and moral values in historical context and compared with contemporary society.
Shakespeare texts explore the ramifications of behaviour in society and the effect on individuals.

Social development within English


Speaking and Listening – group discussions and presentations; drama role play and hot seating – team learning Poetry unit: ‘Relationships’


Speaking and Listening – discussions on various topical issues

KS5 Literature

Love Poetry – social values

Talk Theory – The study of language and how we communicate – socially acceptable conventions.

KS5 Language

Linguistic frameworks – understanding of writing for purpose and audience

Cultural development within English

Year 7 Poetry – People and Places, The Tempest, Understanding Victorian Britain.
Year 8: Poetry – Relationships and Love, Romeo and Juliet, Dystopian societies
Year 9: Poetry – Nature and Time, Macbeth, Of Mice and Men.

An Inspector Calls
The Sign of Four or A Christmas Carol
Shakespeare – ‘Macbeth’ – understanding social, historical and cultural context
Conflict and Power poetry.

Literature Historical, social and cultural context of each novel including imperialism, theocracy and personal responsibility.