English is largely about developing the skills to communicate with confidence and enjoyment at all levels.  In all English classes there is strong emphasis on active pupil participation, the practical application of language and the enjoyment of all types of literature.  Group work is very popular and oral activities including discussion, role-play and presentation form a significant part of our activities. We endeavour to nurture in each pupil an appreciation and love of the English Language and English Literature.


• to develop the ability of pupils to express themselves effectively, accurately and creatively in spoken and written form;
• to ensure that pupils understand and respond imaginatively to what they read, hear and see in a variety of forms;
• to introduce pupils to a wide range of literary texts and genres and foster an appreciation of literature;
• to develop a love of reading and a growing awareness of the writer’s language skills;
• to teach and encourage literacy skills in English which will be used across the curriculum;
• to increase pupils’ awareness of moral and social issues and encourage pupils to respect the point of view of others through the teaching of English;
• to motivate pupils to achieve their best in a well structured and caring environment where pupils’ individual targets are set and met;
• to embed ICT skills within the context of Communication and educate pupils about media.


In years 8-10 pupils develop their skills in Reading, Writing, Talking and Listening

The courses devised for each year group provide students with opportunities to explore, appreciate and enjoy a range of challenging literary and non-literary texts. Using appropriate and varied teaching strategies, teachers aim to foster a love of literature and to encourage students to discover their own talents as readers, writers and communicators.

Active learning

 Active Learning through roleplay

English Awards



Students study both GCSE English and GCSE English Literature in Years 11 and 12.

They follow the CCEA syllabus for each subject.

Both subjects have examination and controlled assessment components and although they are assessed independently, the courses are designed to be compatible.

English Table 1

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The school offers the CCEA Advanced Subsidiary GCE and the CCEA Advanced GCE in English Literature. These courses build upon the knowledge, understanding and skills developed within GCSE Literature.

We have a large cohort of students who take Literature at AS/A2 level and achieve excellent results in both, including a number who go on to read the subject at university. At these levels, also, the examination results have been outstanding. Five of our pupils achieved an A* grade in 2012.

Students taking the AS course should develop as confident, independent and reflective readers able to use critical concepts and terminology with understanding and discrimination.

The A level course broadens and deepens the knowledge, skills and understanding developed in the AS enabling students to explore comparisons and connections between texts and to appreciate the significance of cultural and historical influences upon readers and writers thereby gaining a wider sense of the scope of literary study.




AS (Advanced Subsidiary)

Module 1: The Study of Drama (Shakespeare and two plays by one post-1900 dramatist); internal assessment – 2 coursework pieces.

Module 2: Study of Poetry Written after 1800 and Study of Prose 1800-1945; 2 hour examination: two questions’

A Level (Advanced GCE)

Module 3: Study of Poetry 1300-1800 and Drama; 2 hour examination (closed book). Two questions, one on a poetry text, one on a pair of drama texts.

Module 4: Study of Prose-theme based: study of three post-1900 novels. 2 hour exam/ open book. Close analysis of given extract from one of the texts and second question on two texts.


We believe that a strong reading culture drives success.

We have a beautiful library in St. Joseph’s Grammar School.  As well as having one timetabled library lesson in Years 8 – 10, students are encouraged to use the facility before school and during break and lunch.  The library houses a wide range of both classic and contemporary literature.  September 2013 sees the introduction of the ‘Accelerated Reader’ programme, a motivational reading package.  The library also hosts Halloween ghost story telling sessions and World Book Day table quizzes. All pupils in Years 8 – 10 keep a weekly reading log which is checked and signed by parents and teachers.

The Better Reading Partnership helps some students who need extra help with reading.

reading for pleasure

Reading for pleasure


Students are provided with opportunities to engage with poets and authors either in school or at other   venues. Theatre trips are arranged when possible. All students are encouraged to enter competitions and many are involved in our successful public speaking and debating activities. Pupils are given opportunities to enter a wide range of creative writing competitions.

We have a successful Drama Club, Film Club and debating club.  Our students participate in a range of public speaking competitions. The Mentoring scheme provides the opportunity for Yr8 and 9 students requiring extra help in English to be mentored one- to –one by a Yr13 or 14 student each week.  Students can also work on the School Newsletter team which helps hone their journalistic and desk top publishing skills!

The English Department at St. Joseph’s is an energetic and flexible one.  We are always open to new suggestions regarding new clubs or extra curricular activities.


Soroptimist Public Speaking Competition


The Mentoring Scheme