The English Department prides itself on a subject passion and the attempts made to communicate that to all pupils.

It is the department’s belief that English is a subject that can appeal to all abilities and to both genders. The course structure has been developed so that it encompasses all aspects of the subject from the functional to the imaginative. It is the express aim of the Department to make all aspects of the course relevant to the real world and to use the subject matter and topics to widen the pupils’ sense of themselves and the world around them. There is a focus on an atmosphere of success and a holistic approach to all aspects of the subject where pupils are encouraged to develop a passion for the subject that extends beyond the classroom.

Pupils experience a broad range of language and literature and develop a lively appreciation of the relevance of study in this field. They are prepared for examination success from the start of their senior school studies whilst being encouraged to engender a wider sense of enquiry and curiosity. The Key Stage 3 curriculum is designed to provide a smooth transition to GCSE and this course is also designed to move seamlessly into the rigours of A Level, be it English Literature, or Language and Literature.

First Form to Third Form

Pupils in these year groups undertake the study of both language and literature in half termly units which develop skills in written and verbal communication and criticism. Units of work are diverse and may include designing an advertising campaign with an awareness of how language is adapted to suit purpose or the study of First World War Poetry. The units of work studied lead closely into the GCSE courses. 

Fourth and Fifth Form 

All pupils are offered the opportunity to study both English and English Literature iGCSE. The two subjects are taught concurrently with many of the language skills developed through the investigation of literature. Both subjects are part of the core curriculum at Cokethorpe. 

Pupils will develop the ability to construct and convey meaning in both written and spoken language. They will develop their enjoyment of reading as well as increasing their understanding of the effect of literature on individuals and society. Skills developed in this area of the curriculum will enhance success in all other areas of the curriculum.

In addition to classes, pupils have the chance to take part in literary recitals, to attend the theatre, create advertising campaigns, attend creative workshops and listen to visiting speakers.


Pupils cover a wide range of exciting texts over two years exploring themes of exploration, adventure, travel, discovery and modern ethical and moral dilemmas. Pupils use these as a stimulus for their writing in a wide range of forms. Through discussion, debate and presentation they develop their own voice.

Pupils sit the Edexcel course and take one examination accounting for 70% of their final mark. Pupils study a range of pre-released extracts and passages and also prepare to respond to an unseen passage. In addition pupils carry out a range of writing tasks. They also complete two pieces of written coursework accounting for 20% of the course and finally they carry out a range of speaking and listening tasks accounting for the final 10%. 

English Literature

Pupils read a diverse range of literature from different centuries and traditions. They are encouraged to use such study as a platform for wider exploration of the literary tradition of both Britain and America. An integral part of this process is the ability to forcefully and fluently express critical and personal opinions. 

Pupils sit the Edexcel course and take two final examinations. The first covers drama and prose and the second covers unseen and pre-released poetry. 

Head of English: Miss D C H Jackson 

Competitions and Debates

Pupils from the First Form to the Fifth Form perform their chosen pieces of poetry in the national Poetry by Heart competition, where pupils from schools across the country compete against each other. First Form pupils can also enter the locally held Kits Lit Quiz competition. The Third Form participate in Speeches for Change, where pupils wrestle to outperform their peers in this hard fought competition. A number of different debating competitions take place throughout the year, including the Cambridge Union debate, RIBI Youth Speaks Competition, and English Schools’ Union Debating Competition.

Literary Recitals

The English Department runs a series of recitals given by the staff and the older pupils based around areas of interest. These have become very popular and are another use of the Library as a focal point for academic enthusiasm. Examples include talks entitled Contemporary Poets, Socialism in Literature and Shakespeare's Best Bits!

Theatre Trips

The Department run a number of trips to Theatre productions relevant to curriculum texts; Second Form pupils have seen Macbeth, Fourth and Fifth Form pupils have been to see productions of A View from the Bridge and An Inspector Calls.

Creation Theatre Workshops

In the Third Form pupils perform scenes from Shakespeare under the guidance of the Creation Theatre Group who return to Cokethorpe to do a workshop with Fourth and Fifth Form pupils on A View from the Bridge. Creation Theatre are an Oxford based theatre group who use physical theatre workshops to bring to life curriculum texts, giving a greater depth of understanding to pupils.

Visiting Authors and Speakers

There are a number of guest speakers who visit the School to present to and discuss their work with pupils. Author Celia Rees, who has written a number of captivating books, visits to speak to Second Form pupils about how she turns her ideas into page turning novels. David Calcutt also leads a workshop on Troy to Second Form pupils. Rupert Mason from the Redheart Theatre Company visits the School to perform a live presentation of Gothic Tales to support the Third Form’s exploration in the Gothic genre. Travel writer Emma Levine visited to talk of her novel A Game of Polo with a Headless Goat with Fourth and Fifth Form pupils. Travel writer Kari Herbert, daughter of a Polar Explorer who spent her early years on a remote island in the Arctic, spoke about her travels and writing, in a fascinating series of presentations to pupils from across the School.

Battlefields Trip to Ypres

This rather moving trip is run in conjunction with the History Department. Third form pupils study a range of War Poetry prior to this trip.

Lunchtime Clubs and AOB

AOBs are run by Department members that enhance the delivery of the curriculum. Options change each term but include a programme of: poetry writing, short story writing, the art of story-telling, public speaking and debating, book clubs and electronic newspapers. First Form pupils are invited to join the Lunchtime Reading Club, and also have the opportunity to visit Blackwells Bookshop to select a new novel for the library.