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Housed in an elegant Edwardian house on Lady’s Close, the English Department at WGGS is a large department, comprising thirteen subject specialists. The department offers English and English Literature at all Key Stages, and Drama as part of English at KS3 and KS4. The English Department is high achieving, with results at all Key Stages well above the national average. We are committed to sharing our passion for the subject, providing a stimulating, dynamic and academically rigorous experience of English for all our students.

A love for literature is fostered through the enthusiasm and expertise of our specialist staff, an emphasis on personalised learning through independent research and projects, and plenty of opportunities for discussion, as we place a high value on each student's personal response.

Each student has access to a rich cultural experience as we offer the opportunity to participate in an extensive range of extra-curricular opportunities. Every year the department organises many theatre trips, as well as external study days for KS4 and KS5 students. We also arrange a programme of in-school Drama workshops, talks and writing workshops by visiting authors, as well as a wide range of lunch time clubs to cater for all enthusiasms.

Extended Curricular Opportunities

Stimulating creativity and thought beyond the curriculum is an important focus for the English Department. We encourage students to enter national creative and critical competitions, and value the achievement and participation of all our students. Every year, we award subject prizes for academic achievement, but we also award a whole school Creative Writing Prize, and, just for the Sixth Form, the Halford Clark Prize for Creative Writing. World Poetry Day sees staff and students working together to produce a fun day for the whole school and the school has its own celebratory Book Week in the Spring Term.

We share with the students of WGGS our own love of reading, circulating detailed reading lists, encouraging discussion, and promoting our popular Reading Log scheme for lower school. The English Department participates in the Carnegie Award Shadowing Scheme, and pupils contribute to the judging of this prestigious children's book award by voting for their favourite of short-listed books and posting their own reviews on the Carnegie website.

The department are responsible for school productions with exciting opportunities for girls to perform in all key stages be it in a musical extravaganza, a straight play or promenade theatre in the gardens surrounding Lady's Close House, which provide a beautiful and atmospheric setting, perfect for the woods outside Athens or the Forest of Arden in fine weather!

KS3 (Years 7-9)

What is studied?

At KS3, we focus on developing and securing the key skills required for the study of English and English Literature, whilst also encouraging students to read widely and develop a love and enthusiasm for the subject.

Pupils will be assessed on Reading skills, Writing skills and Speaking and Listening skills.  In reading tasks, pupils will be expected to select accurate quotations and analyse the writer’s use of language and structural features using subject terminology accurately, whilst evaluating the success of these techniques in conveying the writer’s purpose.  In writing tasks, pupils will be encouraged to be imaginative, writing with a variety of forms and purposes. They will be encouraged to use a wide range of linguistic and structural features accurately and creatively.  In both Reading and Writing tasks, pupils will be expected to carefully proof read their work checking for spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors.  Speaking and Listening is assessed throughout each year and include an individual contribution, group discussions and a dramatic performance.

In Year 7, pupils will study a range of texts which include an Induction Unit exploring Chaucer’s “Knight’s Tale”; Shakespeare’s  “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”;  Pre 20th Century Prose, which may include Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol”, Wilde’s “The Happy Prince and Other Stories” or Stevenson’s “Treasure Island”; a modern novel, which may include Tolkein’s “The Hobbit”, Sedgwick’s “My Sword Hand is Singing” or Pullman’s “Ruby in the Smoke” and a Genre unit.  Pupils will also study poetry throughout the year.

In Year 8, pupils will study a range of texts which include a Shakespeare play (“Twelfth Night”, “The Tempest”  or “Taming of the Shrew”);  a Media Unit; Poetry; Playscripts which may include Frankenstein, Duffy’s “Rats’ Tales”, Shaw’s “Pygmalion” or Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” and a novel from an Other Culture which may include Taylor’s “Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry”, Yen Mah’s “Chinese Cinderella” or  Naidoo’s “The Other Side of Truth.” Pupil’s will also study Unseen Prose throughout the year.

In year 7 and 8 Pupils will also study three drama units which develop key Drama Skills and look at the conventions of Pantomime, Melodrama and Physical Theatre. Pupils are also encouraged to read widely from a range of genres and authors.  This is supported by the Reading Log in Year 7 and Group reading projects in Year 8.

In Year 9 students study a range of Pre 1900 Prose, Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing”, and Exciting Writing.  From February Half Term pupils will be starting to develop the skills required for the GCSE exams and will explore these whilst studying Poetry Across Time, Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” and preparing for a GCSE Language style paper.

KS4 (Years 10 – 11)

  • What is studied

At WGGS, all students work towards a GCSE in English Language

(AQA English Language 8700)

All students will be exposed to a range unseen texts including extracts from novels, short stories, newspaper articles, reviews and letters dating from the nineteenth to the twenty first century.

As part of their study, students will consider how established, modern and emerging writers use narrative and descriptive techniques to capture the interest of readers; identify and interpret explicit and implicit information and ideas; select and synthesise evidence from different texts; use relevant subject terminology as part of their analyse and to compare writers’ ideas and perspectives.

Students will also be taught to communicate clearly, effectively and imaginatively, adapting the tone, style and register of their writing for different forms, purposes and audiences. We aim to develop students’ ability to develop writing that conveys complex ideas convincingly. In addition, students are expected to use punctuation with a high level of accuracy, to securely use complex grammatical structures and to achieve high levels of accuracy in spelling.


All texts in the examination will be unseen.

Paper 1 Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing

Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes (50%)

Questions include:

Reading (40 marks) (25%): one single text

Writing (40 marks) (25%): one extended writing question

(24 marks for content, 16 marks for technical accuracy)

Section A: Reading

• one literature fiction text

Section B: Writing

• descriptive or narrative writing

Paper 2 Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives

Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes (50%)

Questions include:

Reading (40 marks) (25%): two linked texts

Writing (40 marks) (25%): one extended writing question (24 marks for content, 16 marks for technical accuracy)

Section A: Reading

• one non-fiction text and one literary non-fiction text

Section B: Writing

• writing to present a viewpoint

Non-examination Spoken Language

This is assessed within the school by means of a presentation, where pupils respond to questions and feedback.

The vast majority of our girls also work towards a GCSE in English Literature

(AQA 8702 English Literature)

At WGGS, girls will study a range of texts including modern novels, like ‘An Inspector Calls’, ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ and ‘Lord of the Flies’; nineteenth century novels like ‘Jekyll and Hyde’, ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’; a Shakespeare play, for example ‘Macbeth’ or ‘The Merchant of Venice’ as well as a range of poetry from Chaucer to Duffy.

As part of their study, the students will learn to adopt a critical style, developing an informed personal response to the texts. They will learn to analyse the language, form and structure used by a writer to create meanings and effects in an insightful and sophisticated way. Additionally, students are taught to develop an understanding of the relationships between texts and the contexts in which they were written.


All assessments are closed book

Paper 1 Shakespeare and the 19th Century novel

Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes (40%)

Section A Shakespeare:

Pupils will answer one question on their play of choice.

They will be required to write in detail about an extract from the play and then to write about the play as a whole.

Section B: The 19th Century novel:

Pupils will answer one question on their novel of choice. They will be required to write in detail about an extract from the novel and then to write about the novel as a whole.

Paper 2 Modern Texts and Poetry

Written exam: 2 hour 15 minutes (60%)

Pupils will answer questions on modern prose or drama texts, a poetry anthology and unseen poetry.


Exam board websites (specification and specimen papers):



The study of Literature at A Level is a broad and challenging journey through the literary canon. You will be encouraged to develop interest in and enjoyment of English Literature, through reading widely, critically and independently, across centuries, genre and gender, and through experience of an extensive range of views about texts and how to read them. There is significant scope for independent study and the emphasis of the course will be on your development as an informed, independent reader of literary texts through a course of wide and close reading. As a result, you can expect to read a minimum of ten set texts and write regular essays. However, those wishing to aim for the highest grades will be constantly engaged in reading further around the content of the course.

Girls studying A Level English Literature will follow AQA (A) specification, which provides the most flexibility and variety of set text choice allowing both pupils and staff to enjoy pursuing areas of personal interest and expertise.


An A Level in English Literature will provide you with an array of highly desirable transferable skills including:

  • Developing detailed and balanced arguments and sensitivity to how communication is shaped by circumstances, authorship and intended audience.
  • Sensitivity to the power of language and its role in creating meaning
  • A broad vocabulary and ability to use critical terminology appropriately
  • Skills in the accurate and appropriate presentation of academic work
  • The ability to analyse and critically  and the capacity for independent thought, reflection and judgement.
  • The ability to comprehend and develop intricate ideas and make good use of research skills.

As a result you would be well prepared to apply for an array of University courses from humanities to law, International Relations and more.


  • You will study poetry, prose and drama from the medieval to modern period.
  • You can expect two to three examinations, which will be between two and three hours long and will be closed book. Some of the examination content will be unseen.
  • There will be comparative coursework worth 20% of the final A Level, which will ask you to compare and contrast texts from different periods.

You must have AB (with the A in either Literature or language at GCSE.)