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English & Media

'Words are things: and a small drop of ink, falling like dew upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.' BYRON


Students are taught in mixed ability groups throughout their time at Hitchin Girls’ School.

Teaching Styles

The teaching of English, like all other subjects, requires the creation of a safe and disciplined environment within the classroom if effective learning is to take place. 

The English department adopts a wide variety of approaches, including whole class discussion, open and closed questioning, drama and using Information and Communications Technology. 

English department clubs and extracurricular:
Come along and join one of our lunchtime clubs!

Creative Writing club - Open to all year groups. 

Young Reporter – Open to all year groups. We also take part in the exciting
BBC Young Reporter event.

GCSE Poetry – help with the unseen poetry and anthologies.

Homework club – open to Key Stage 3 and 4. Bring along the homework you need help with or an area you want to work on. 

A Level Literature Discussion Groups

English trips and competitions
Keep an eye on the English noticeboard in the Lower Block for details of our current trips, competitions and events.

Key Stage 3 

The aims and rationale of the curriculum in Years 7- 9 in English are:

Building from the students' experiences at Key Stage 2, we aim to develop analytical and writing skills, developing year-on-year as students experience a growing range of texts and contexts. As students develop, both socially and experimentally, we aim to provide lessons which deliver challenging and interesting texts and stimuli, fostering a love of learning, reading and language. We want our students to be real readers and real writers.

We aim to inspire our students with a rich and diverse experience of English at Key Stage 3, studying texts from our literary heritage including Dickens and Shakespeare, as well as pre-1900 poetry, prose and modern drama. Through a challenging and motivating programme of study, our students are encouraged to become confident speakers, creative writers and active readers.

Our schemes of work allow students to explore different genres of literature including fantasy and gothic fiction and experiment with their own creative writing. Non-fiction texts are investigated through reading and writing skills which allow students to develop the confidence to match their writing to an audience and a purpose. Students develop their experience of poetry each year to investigate form, language and cultural understanding and to offer a critical analysis which prepares them for further study at GCSE. Topics are also introduced which are studied in Year 10, such as nineteenth-century literature, Shakespeare and persuasive opinion writing.

Finally, we aim to motivate independent reading through our active library lessons and through a range of class shared novels in each year, from David Almond and Michael Morpurgo to Celia Rees and Phillip Pullman. Our aim is to encourage students to continue to read widely throughout their study of English at Hitchin Girls’ School.

Click here for a detailed curriculum map for Key Stage 3 English

Key Stage 3 Overview 

Year 7

Through the Looking Glass – Students develop the writing skills learnt at primary school, using a range of rich and interesting texts for inspiration.  They will have the opportunity to plan, draft and share their own creative and autobiographical writing.

Pictures With Words - A poetry unit which introduces students to the skills needed for close analysis.  We cover a range of beautiful poetry, including pre-1900 poems, to explore how poets create images in their writing.

Shared Novel – An opportunity to read a whole novel together and study it in detail through a range of interesting reading and writing tasks.  We enjoy quests, adventures and dramatic tales in this scheme of work, taking plenty of opportunities to further develop students’ own writing.

Dramatic Dickens – An introduction to the work of Charles Dickens through the study of extracts of some of his famous stories.  We focus on character and description, including dramatic and spoken activities.  This unit of work prepares students for their end of year assessments in reading and writing.

Telling Tales – We focus on story-telling through the ages, experiencing an exciting adventure of English along the way.  We revisit a range of writing skills and students experiment with their own extended creative writing.

Year 8

Magical Shakespeare – Students study either A Midsummer Night’s Dream or The Tempest as their first major experience of Shakespeare.

Fantasy Writing – A genre study where students learn how to structure imaginative written work.  They will build on their creative writing skills learnt last year to shape and craft their own fantasy writing.

Ballads – A lovely unit where we explore how longer narrative poems are structured, enjoy their gripping stories and analyse how language devices are used for effect.  We encounter many famous poets in this scheme, including Tennyson and Coleridge.

Campaign for Change – A writing unit which teaches students how to be persuasive with a focus on animals. This unit will also assess students’ speaking and listening skills.

Shared Novel – Our class full novel, where we consider the novel and its contexts.  We analyse the writer’s craft and think about the wider ideas that inform our understanding of the text.  There are plenty of activities to support students with their own writing skills.

Year 9

The Gothic – A genre study which enables students to experiment with their own atmospheric writing skills through study of some classic, sophisticated pieces of literature.

Much Ado About Nothing – A more detailed study of a play by Shakespeare, where students will gain confidence in exploring Shakespeare’s use of language and enjoy his comedy and drama.

Cultures and Identities - Students explore a rich variety of poetry from a range of cultures and traditions, developing their skills for poetry analysis and beginning to compare poems. 

People and Places – Building on the work done in the previous unit, this unit develops students' understanding of writers' viewpoints and perspectives through study of interesting travel writing, whilst equipping them with the skills to express their own ideas persuasively.

Shared Novel:  Modern Classic novel – Students study a modern classic novel in its entirety, exploring thought-provoking ideas in context and developing their skills for close literary analysis.  Spoken language skills are also supported in this unit.

Key Stage 4 

At Key Stage Four, all students study English Language and English Literature GCSE. We follow the AQA specification.  Pupils will study a range of texts, including a Shakespeare play (either 'Macbeth' or 'Romeo and Juliet'), a modern text (generally ‘Animal Farm’ or ‘An Inspector Calls’), a nineteenth century novel (‘A Christmas Carol’ or ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’) and a selection of poetry. They also study a range of other texts in extract, both fiction and non-fiction, in preparation for the “unseen” elements of their exams.

English develops the skills of reading, writing and spoken language. In their writing, students learn how to write creatively to describe and narrate and to give viewpoints and opinions persuasively.  Students will also develop their use of grammar, vocabulary and punctuation.

All aspects of the GCSE in English Language and English Literature are assessed through examination at the end of the course, with the exception of the Spoken Language Non-Examined Assessment, where students will deliver a presentation which is assessed by teachers.

Students also have the option to study Media Studies GCSE. Here, they study a range of media genres including action adventure films, situation comedies, newspapers, BBC news and advertising.  The course is assessed through two written examinations and one piece of creative Non-Exam Assessment (NEA) which requires students to research, plan and produce their own media production in accordance with a brief set by the exam board.  The Media NEA comprises 30% of the overall GCSE grade.  This can lead on to Media A-Level, which we also offer.  The course has considerable IT and creative content as well as developing the skill of writing analytical essays.  We follow the WJEC EDUQAS specification for Media Studies.

Results at GCSE are consistently high in all three GCSE subjects. Many students choose to continue their studies of one of these subjects into A-Level.

In addition to the academic studies, there are a range of extra curricular opportunities offered at Key Stage 4. These include creative writing club, theatre trips, the Poetry Live! conference, revision clubs and writing competitions.

Exam Boards

GCSE English Language:

GCSE English Literature:

GCSE Media Studies

Key Stage 5 

At Key Stage 5, we offer three A-Level subjects: English Literature, English Language and Literature and Media Studies. All three are very popular subjects and all obtain very good results. Classes are taught between two teachers, who then provide a pathway through the specification. The department choose set texts and units depending on their experience, preferences and suitability for the group. Full details of the courses offered by the Hitchin Schools Sixth Form Consortium are shown in the Consortium Prospectus.

Results at A-Level are consistently high in all three subjects. Many students choose to continue their studies of one of these subjects to degree level.

In addition to the academic studies, there are a range of extra curricular opportunities offered at Key Stage 5. These include theatre trips, supporting within Lower School English lessons, the Ambassadors scheme, writing and media competitions.

Exam Boards

A Level English Literature

A Level English Language and Literature

A Level Media Studies

Meet the team 

The English and Media department teaching staff are:

Mrs Sarah Batchelor (Head of Department)

Mrs Sarah Sinclair (Second in Department)

Mr Kieran Balfe (also Drama)

Mrs Sohalla Kiani

Mrs Simi Labinjo

Ms Sangeetha Mani

Ms Olivia Marsh

Mrs Deborah Pearce

Miss Ellie de Wild


Mr Richard Cave (Assistant Headteacher)