English Core beliefs:

We believe that through our curriculum and through experiences in English lessons with our English teachers, when our students leave us in Year 11, they will have:

  • A critical appreciation of Shakespeare, his life and works;
  • A critical appreciation of classical literature and  the role and influence it has on modern texts and the modern world;
  • A critical appreciation of poetry and the impact it can have on human emotion and the wider world;
  • The understanding of genre and skills needed to be confident and imaginative creative writers;
  • The freedom of thought and skills to be enthusiastic  and astute readers;
  • The courage and skills to be self-assured and  bold public speakers;
  • The knowledge and understanding that great literature and powerful words have the ability to heal, to bring love, to move people and to challenge and change the world for the better.

If students decide to pursue English these attributes will be honed throughout Years 12 and 13 with greater depth, more critical thinking and the skills needed to move onto the next stage.

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 marking policy, with assessments being marked using clear success criteria and shared with students on Firefly.

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
Myths and Legends; Gothic Fiction;   Approaches to Poetry I - Romanticism; 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 - Poetry with Power; Shakespeare’s World; The Tempest by William Shakespeare*; Literature on Screen.

Year 9
Tomorrow’s World - Science Fiction; Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor; Approaches to Poetry III - Poetry with a theme of ‘Belonging’; Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare; Writing from the Victorian Era; Rhetoric II - Research into, delivering a presentation on, and writing an article about a controversial topic.

Year 10
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde*; Approaches to poetry IV - AQA Poetry Anthology*; Animal Farm by George Orwell*; Macbeth by William Shakespeare*; Explorations in Creative writing and Non-fiction.

Year 11
Re-readings of Animal Farm*, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde *, 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

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

                Richard III – William Shakespeare

                An Ideal Husband – Oscar Wilde

                Christina Rossetti poetry (Guidance will be given to poems at a later date)

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

                Dunsinane – David Greig

                Resistance – Owen Sheers

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.

Exam Bodies:

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, 7572.. Further details, specifications and past exam papers can be found at: https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/media-studies/as-and-a-level/media-studies-7572 

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.

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.

At A Level, the English department is both extremely popular and successful. From Year 12 onwards, students can study English literature and/or Media. 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 yearlong 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 an area of the department’s Firefly page, 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, developed 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.

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 many different poetry competitions. Also, students have the opportunity to publish their work on the department’s Firefly page.

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. A Wilson, Curriculum Leader of Learning, 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 and became Curriculum Leader of English and Media Studies in 2017. His particular interests in English are prose fiction and public speaking. Along with Mr. Robinson, Mr. Wilson runs Media club. 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. Outside school Mr. Wilson’s main interest is playing and watching sport, especially football, cricket, golf and squash.

Mr Topping, 2nd Curriculum Leader of Learning
Mr Topping studied Drama at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth with a particular focus on early modern drama and Restoration Comedy. He subsequently went on to train as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and received a further BA in Acting from Kings College, London. After spending a decade working in theatre, he gained a PGCE from London Metropolitan University in English with Media and Drama. He has a particular interest in Shakespeare and in poetry.

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 Media Studies at A-level, English Language and journalism. Teaching at The Catholic High, Chester since 2009, he has also coordinated many extra-curricular activities in school, including Film Club, the ‘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

Mrs. M Ireland BA (University of York), PGCE (Manchester Metropolitan University)
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, and likes to work towards completing reading challenges, such as reading all the Man Booker longlist or all the books nominated for the Carnegie medal for children’s literature. She is involved in staff development and is the regional advocate for LitDrive, a charity which organises subject specific training for English teachers.

Mrs Huish
Mrs Huish graduated from the University of Leeds in Communications and English. She initially followed a career in advertising and marketing before feeling the draw of the education industry. She has taught from Key Stage 3 up to A Level in a range of settings, mostly enjoying the teaching of Shakespeare, public speaking and creative writing. In her previous role as a Head of Department, she led her public speaking team to win the National Youth Speaks finals. In 2018, Mrs Huish chose to move to Chester Catholic High on a part-time contract so she could balance family life, work and her love for amateur dramatics. She performs at Theatr Clwyd several times a year, but also enjoys more athletic pursuits, including CrossFit, running and cycling. 

Miss Burke – BA Hons Sports Studies and English / PGCE (Both awarded by Liverpool University)
Miss K. Burke is an English teacher from Ireland. Prior to teaching in The Catholic High School, she taught PE and English in a secondary school in Runcorn. Following this employment, she embarked on an eight-month adventure around the world. Miss Burke joined The Catholic High School, in 2006, teaching PE and moved to full time English in 2016. She has enjoyed being able to teach her two favourite subjects in this school. She loves to read and be inspired by personal development books and also autobiographies from authors who have overcome great challenges. Miss Burke is also very keen on the outdoors and will often be seen on various Duke of Edinburgh expeditions. 

Mrs Hawkins 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.