English Core beliefs:

  • Through studying great works of literature, a student will develop a wider knowledge of, and aptitude in English language which prepares them for the next stage of their education.
  • Reading professional writers and listening to skilled orators are the key to developing students’ writing.
  • Learning should be challenging and stimulating.
  • All students’ progress should be measured against high academic expectations.

Expectations:

  • Students work courteously and hard, both within and without the classroom.
  • Teachers plan lessons that support those who struggle whilst stretching those who excel.
  • First and foremost, students’ work is assessed so that each pupil can convey his or her increasing knowledge more and more impressively whilst ensuring that hard work is praised.
  • Teachers give feedback, especially verbally, which pushes students to learn deeply and improve the accuracy and sophistication of their work.
  • Students’ written work and oral presentations are marked in accordance with the school’s STAR marking policy. 

The Curriculum

As a minimum, students will study the following units with teachers expected to push, where appropriate, their classes to learn more broadly:

Year 7

Gothic Fiction;   Approaches to Poetry I - the Romantics and Nature; Rhetoric I - The Power of the Spoken Word; Personal writing; Independent Reading Challenge

Year 8

The Art of the Story; A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens*; Approaches to Poetry II - Parents and Children; Background to Shakespeare; The Tempest by William Shakespeare*

Year 9

Journeys throughout the ages - literary non-fiction; Animal Farm by George Orwell; Approaches to Poetry III - Conflict and The Trench Poets; Rhetoric II - Is it just me…discursive speaking and writing; Macbeth by William Shakespeare*

Year 10

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens*; Approaches to poetry III - AQA Poetry Anthology*; Literary fiction and Non-fiction; Rhetoric III - Research into, delivering a presentation on, and writing an article about a controversial topic

Year 11

Re-readings of Animal Farm*, Great Expectations*, Macbeth* and AQA Poetry Anthology*; English Literature and Language exam skills

*these texts will be examined as part of the GCSE Literature course from 2017 onwards – see below

Sixth Form

A-Level English Literature, OCR

Y12 students follow a new course, with all of their public examinations taking place in the summer of 2017 (when they are in Year 13).

Students will study, and need to purchase, the following texts for their course on American literature:

                The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

                The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

For their coursework they shall read, and again, need to purchase a copy of:

                The Gathering – Anne Enright

                Dancing at Lughnasa – Brian Friel

A-Level Creative Writing, AQA

In Year 12, students will sit their AS examination and submit their AS coursework portfolio. In Year 13, students submit their coursework portfolio and sit their A2 examination. Despite the name of the course focusing on ‘writing’, only avid readers, who can work independently, will be successful.

During Year 12, students will learn about the writing process involved in producing prose fiction, prose non-fiction, script and poetry. They will read professional writers’ ideas about how to write successfully, whilst also writing their own pieces which will be read by their peers, teachers, family etcetera. At least one piece of writing will have to be published on the English department’s website, www.writeinchester.com and entry into national writing competitions is mandatory.

A-Level Media Studies, AQA

In Year 12, students will sit their AS examination and submit their AS coursework. In Year 13, students submit coursework and sit their A2 examinations.

A-Level English Language, AQA

This subject will no longer be offered for study, apart from the A2 course in 2015/16 which will be studied by Year 13 students who have already completed their AS course successfully. Their A2 examinations and submission of coursework take place in the summer of 2016.

Exam Bodies - Until June 2016, the information for English is as follows:

IGCSE English Literature is assessed by AQA on course, 8710. June 2016 is the final time our students will sit this course which is being replaced next year. Further details, specifications and past exam papers can be found at: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/aqa-certificate/english-literature-8710

IGCSE English Language is assessed by AQA on course, 8705. June 2016 is the final time our students will sit this course which is being replaced next year. Further details, specifications and past exam papers can be found at: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/aqa-certificate/english-language-8705

A-Level English Literature is assessed by OCR on course, H471. June 2016 is the final time our students will sit this course which is being replaced next year. For further information about the specification and past papers, please visit: http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/as-a-level-gce-english-literature-h071-h471/

A-Level English Language is assessed by AQA on course, 2705. June 2016 is the final time our students will sit this course. English Language will not be studied at A-Level in the future. For further information about the specification and past papers, please visit: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/as-and-a-level/english-language-b-2705

A-Level Media Studies is assessed by AQA on course, 2570. In Year 12, students study for their AS qualification, sitting an examination and submitting coursework. In Year 13, students study for their A2 qualification where they sit a further examination and make another coursework submission. Further details, specifications and past exam papers can be found at: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/media-studies/a-level/media-studies-2570

AS and A2 Creative Writing are assessed by AQA on course, 2750. AS Creative Writing will be taken for the final time by students in Year 12 in June 2016. Further details, specifications and past exam papers can be found at: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/as-and-a-level/creative-writing-2750

From September 2016 onwards, the information for English is as follows:

GCSE English Literature is assessed by AQA on course, 8702. Further details, specifications and specimen exam papers can be found at: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/gcse

GCSE English Language is assessed by AQA on course, 8700. Further details, specifications and specimen exam papers can be found at: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/gcse

A-Level English Literature is assessed by OCR on course, H472. To download a copy of the specification, please go to: http://www.ocr.org.uk/Images/171200-specification-accredited-a-level-gce-english-literature-h472.pdf and for specimen exam papers, please visit: http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/as-a-level-gce-english-literature-h072-h472-from-2015/

A-Level Media Studies is assessed by AQA on course, 2570. In Year 12, students study for their AS qualification, sitting an examination and submitting coursework. In Year 13, students study for their A2 qualification where they sit a further examination and make another coursework submission. Further details, specifications and past exam papers can be found at: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/media-studies/a-level/media-studies-2570

A2 Creative Writing is assessed by AQA on course, 2750. It will be taken for the final time by students in Year 13 in 2016/17. Further details, specifications and past exam papers can be found at: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/as-and-a-level/creative-writing-2750 

Further information

English is successful at The Catholic High because our students read a lot, both within and without the class room. All students, irrespective of ability, read a broad spectrum of literary works: Beowulf, Chaucer, Shakespeare and The Romantics, through Victorian novelists, Trench Poets and dystopian authors right up to contemporary writers. Students are encouraged to read independently and to respond with academic curiosity to the texts which they study. They are also taught how to construct formal essays alongside learning how to write more creatively. Developing confidence as a public speaker is also a feature of English lessons.

In terms of GCSE results, 90% of last year's students achieved the government's 'Expected Progress' measure, one of the highest in the area, and an impressive 50% made 'Better than Expected Progress'.

Teachers of English and support staff are extremely skilled, knowledgeable and devoted to every student's progress, something reflected in the array of extra-curricular activities offered by English teachers, assistants and sixth formers which include: Year 7 Reading Club, Film Club, KS3 Creative Writing Club, Media Club, after-school coursework and exam support sessions and even a Dungeons and Dragons Group.

At A-Level, the English department is both extremely popular and successful. From Year 12 onwards, students can study English literature, Media or Creative Writing. Students have the chance to participate in The Catenian Public Speaking Competition, visit Stratford-upon-Avon with The Birthplace Trust, see the battlefields of The Somme and Ypres, visit Oxford and Cambridge universities and become a Reading Buddy for a Year 7 pupil - a year long commitment to help a younger student develop their love of reading. 

English Ambassadors

Every year, a group of enthusiastic and talented students from all years have the chance to become an English Ambassador, a role which allows them to demonstrate their love of English and help out with a range of activities, such as contributing to department meetings, editing the department’s creative writing website, www.writeinchester.com, supporting pupils and teachers in KS3 classes and showcasing the department at open evenings.

English Ambassadors also play a leading role in the Reading Buddies programme which sees sixth formers reading with pupils from Years 7 and 8. This programme, led by Mrs. Seager is going from strength to strength and has dramatically improved many students’ skills and love of reading. 

Extra-Curricular Activities and Competitions

The English team offers a wide range of activities such as: a creative writing group in Lower School (Years 7 and 8); Film Club which shows classic movies; Media Club who use the department’s green screen and Apple Macs to document life in the school, enter competitions and record school productions and concerts; and a Dungeons & Dragons society.

Every year, students from Years 9 - 13 have the opportunity to enhance their learning through attending lectures and events at leading institutions such as The Birthplace Place Trust and to participate in workshops and open days at Oxford and Cambridge universities.

Students are encouraged to submit their writing for prestigious national competitions such as The Brit Writers Award, a variety of Oxbridge essay and poetry competitions, Radio 2’s 500 Word and Foyle Young Poets competitions. Also, students have the opportunity to publish their work on the department’s website, www.writeinchester.com

With an emphasis on helping students become articulate speakers, all of Year 7 take part in a public speaking competition held in the Lyceum Theatre, with students in Years 8 and 9 regularly participating in debates, role plays and poetry recital competitions too.

Through links made with Linkoping University, Sweden, Federation University, Australia and The University of Chester, many students get to experience lessons which give them an insight into university level teaching from across the globe. 

Staff Profiles

Mr. D Bottom MA (John Moores University), BA(University of Liverpool), PGCE (Edge Hill) PGDL (The College of Law, Chester)  Head of English Mr. Bottom joined The Catholic High School in 2012, after teaching in a number of state comprehensives on the Wirral. A graduate of literature and language at the University of Liverpool, he particularly enjoyed studying Russian, Irish and Modernist literature. From there, he went to The College of Law in Chester before working in Liverpool as part of a team facilitating access to mental health, child protection and learning difficulties services. After qualifying as a teacher, he continued to study English and completed a Masters in Writing and is currently a Senior Examiner on AQA’s Creative Writing A-Level, an External Expert for Ofqual and a Specialist Leader of Education with the Cheshire Vale Teaching Alliance. Outside of school, his interests include climbing and sailing in Scotland and Wales.

Mrs. Marquand, Assistant Head of English and School Literacy Coordinator, graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a BA (Hons) in ‘Literature, Life & Thought’ – a course which incorporated the study of History with English and American Literature. Whilst at university she also studied journalism (with photo journalism), media studies, film studies and creative writing. She qualified as a teacher from The University of Liverpool in 1995, and has worked in schools in Merseyside, Wirral and Chester. In addition to teaching, in 2005 she spent 6 months working as a Production Assistant on a feature film.

Mrs. Jones, Head of Learning Support and member of the school’s Extended Leadership Team, Advanced Diploma in Speech and Language (University of Sheffield), Cert. Ed (Alsager Teacher Training College).

Mrs. Ireland has worked at The Catholic High since 2009, after graduating from York University and studying for her PGCE in Manchester. At university, she took a particular interest in Medieval Literature, and studied Old Norse, the language of the Vikings. She enjoys reading a range of books, particularly children’s literature, and is a founding member of the Staff Book Club.

Mrs. Hawkins, Head of Year 8, graduated from the University of Chester in English. She furthered her interest in writing through completing an MA in Creative Writing, winning the university valedictory prize. At university, Mrs. Hawkins took a particular interest in dystopian literature. Her love of reading and discussing literature saw her found the University of Chester Literature Society, hosting a series of open mic events. Since joining The Catholic High, she has created a KS3 Writing Club to encourage young people to share and improve their writing abilities.

Mr. M Robinson BA (Salford) PGCE (Manchester Metropolitan)

Mr. Robinson graduated from the University of Salford in 2005 with a degree in English and Journalism. He enjoys teaching all areas of the English curriculum and his particular interests within the subject include English Language at A-level, Media Studies and journalism. In terms of the department’s extra-curricular activities, he runs the school’s Film Club and ‘Christo FM’ podcast radio show with Mr. Wilson, as well as a weekly lunchtime club for aspiring sports journalists. Outside of school, his main interests are film, music, motor racing and he enjoys following the fortunes of Manchester United.

Mr. A Wilson, Training Manager, BA (University of Wales) MA (University of Manchester) PGCE (Manchester Metropolitan)

Mr. Wilson graduated with a First Class honours degree in 2001 in English and Media Studies. After completing his Master’s degree and PGCE he joined the school in September 2005. His particular interests in English are detective novels and public speaking. Along with Mr. Robinson, Mr. Wilson runs Media club and started the in school radio station. He has also been the Spelling Bee coordinator and has guided one team to the Grand Final. As well as teaching English, Mr. Wilson also teaches Media Studies at A-Level. He also manages the Year 9 boy’s football team and helps with the Mock Magistrate competition. Outside school Mr. Wilson’s main interest is playing and watching sport, especially football, cricket, golf and squash. Mr. Wilson, in his role as Training Manager is responsible for the induction of new staff, especially Newly Qualified Teachers and Associate Teachers.

Miss Burke – BA Hons Sports Studies and English (Liverpool Hope University)

Miss Burke is the school’s Duke of Edinburgh Coordinator and competed many times for County at the Nationals in swimming events. She represented Liverpool University in swimming and water polo events and also competed in a Welsh netball league. Currently Miss Burke swims with Chester Triathlon Club.