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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


Pupils 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 extra curricular:
Come along and join one of our lunchtime clubs!
Creative Writing club - Open to all year groups. 

BBC School Report -We take part in this exciting national event.  Preparations start from December each year.

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. 

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 

We aim to inspire our students with a rich and diverse experience of English at Key Stage Three, 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 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.

Key Stage 3 Overview 

Year 7

Through the Looking Glass – A writing assessment, focused on producing imaginative and well organised texts (an autobiographical extract). 

Pictures With Words - A reading assessment focused on investigating the use of language features in poetry and their effect on the reader.

Shared Novel – A reading assessment focused on interpreting and generating ideas from fiction and using evidence from the text to support those ideas.

Dramatic Dickens – A range of assessment focused on listening and responding to others and using dramatic devices to create a role to explore ideas within a text and also to prepare students for their end of year assessments in reading and writing.

Telling Tales – A writing assessment focused on story telling and revisiting a range of writing skills.

Year 8

Magical Shakespeare – A reading assessment focused on analysing a key scene from either A Midsummer Night’s Dream or The Tempest.

Fantasy Writing – A writing assessment focusing on structuring imaginative written work through paragraphing and varying sentences for effect and clarity.

Ballads – A reading assessment focused on exploring how poems are structured and how language devices are used for effect.

Persuade! – A writing assessment focusing on producing texts appropriate to audience and purpose and organising written work effectively. This unit will also assess students’ speaking and listening skills.

Shared Novel – A reading assessment focused on using references to a text to support inferences and interpretation of fiction, alongside activities to support students with their own writing skills.

Year 9

The Gothic – A creative writing assessment focused on a genre study to produce texts appropriate to task, reader and purpose.

Much Ado About Nothing – A reading assessment commenting on Shakespeare’s use of language and effect on the audience through character or theme.

Cultures and Identities - Reading and writing assessments where students explore a rich variety of poetry and non-fiction texts from a range of cultures and traditions.  This unit develops students' understanding of writers' viewpoints and perspectives whilst equipping them with the skills to express their own ideas persuasively.

Of Mice and Men – Reading assessment and Spoken Language presentations in which students investigate non-fiction texts and ideas connected to the novel.

Key Stage 4 

At Key Stage Four, all pupils 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.

Pupils 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 wel 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 pupils 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 four. These include: creative writing club, theatre trips, the Poetry Live! conference, revision clubs and writing competitions.


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 pupils choose to continue their studies of one of these subjects into degree.

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