English at St Augustine’s

The team    Aims of the department    Information by years    How can I help my daughter    Career progression    Trips and activities

GCSEs offered in English Language and English Literature
AS and A2 offered in English Literature

The Team

Dr G Gill – Head of Department
Dr Gill has been teaching at St Augustine’s since 2001.  She was Director of Sixth Form (Academic) from 2007 until 2011; she has also been Head of Classics.  Dr Gill is currently a LV Tutor.  She particularly loves Chaucer and Shakespeare, and enjoys teaching active, participatory lessons.

Mrs B Ogley - Junior subject co-ordinator
Mrs Ogley has taught English and Drama to girls ranging in age from LII to UIV since 2006.  She has been a Form Tutor for both Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3.  She leads Junior School book clubs, plans study trips for extension, and directs innovative dramatic performances for Key Stage 2.

Mr N Elder
Mr Elder has taught English at St Augustine’s, from Form III to Sixth Form, since 2010. He is a Form Tutor.   He has brought an expertise in poetry and a wealth of contacts within the creative community to our school.  By his initiative the girls have been able to participate in poetry workshops from Upper II onwards.

Mrs A Bailey
Mrs Bailey has taught at St Augustine’s since 2000.  She was Head of English in 2009-2010, a post she relinquished on her move to part-time teaching. Mrs Bailey’s depth of scholarship and innovative lessons delight students from Form III to Sixth Form.

Preps and Juniors are taught English by their Form Tutors.

Aims of the department

  • To develop confident and effective communicators in both speaking and writing.
  • To foster enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poems and drama, as well as non-fiction and media texts.
  • To increase understanding of how language works by looking at its patterns, structures and origins.
  • To develop creative and imaginative self-expression  for different purposes and audiences.
  • To introduce other cultures and traditions through fiction, non-fiction and poetic texts.
  • To explore social and moral issues through reading classic and contemporary texts.
  • To encourage analysis and understanding of the importance of tone, gesture and word choice in spoken language, as well as in hybrid communication that combines spoken and written conventions.
  • To provide enjoyment and intellectual stimulation.
  • To prepare pupils for public examinations.

Information by years

Key Stages 1:  Ages 5-7

In Key Stage 1, the focus is on developing language and literature skills.  Regular reading increases the girls’ confidence as they move towards more independent reading.  We follow the Letters and Sounds phonics scheme, which helps children with spelling and decoding new words.  The Nelson handwriting scheme is used to develop fine motor skills and to introduce cursive script.  Girls are given the opportunity to write for a range of purposes and in a variety of forms, such as recipes, invitations, reports and stories.

Key Stage 2:  Ages  7 -11

Lower Key Stage 2 (Ages 7-9) 

The girls are increasingly confident in their independent reading.  There is a strong emphasis on developing handwriting skills, and the girls move to writing in pen at the end of Lower I.

Upper Key Stage 2 (Ages 9-11) 

The girls are reading confidently and independently, choosing a wide range of genres and authors from the lists provided by their English teacher.  Both comprehension and writing skills are developed by the study of a range of texts, including informative writing, reports, poetry, newspaper articles, and extracts from fiction and non-fiction.  Spellings are learned and tested weekly, and grammar is taught in a variety of ways.  Listening and speaking skills are developed in the classroom as part of every lesson.  Drama skills are taught, and the girls have the opportunity to perform in an annual musical production for their year group.

Key Stage 3:  Ages 11 - 14

The girls develop analytic skills in response to a wide variety of texts, from magazine advertisements to Shakespeare's plays.   They read widely and learn to appreciate the different ways in which language is used.  They begin to appreciate the differences between spoken and written language.  Their responses take a wide variety of forms, including projects, speaking and listening, and essays.  The girls read beyond the class texts from a list of novels, at least one per half term.

Key Stage 4:  Ages 14 – 16

Lower V

English IGCSE Specification


In English, students learn the skills of summary and note-taking and respond critically and creatively to media reading,  They develop a portfolio of individual writing from which three responses in various styles are submitted for coursework.  They develop strong speaking and listening skills which are assessed in three different styles (individual presentation, paired work and group discussion).

English Literature IGCSE Specification


Students engage with a variety of genres, including a selection of poetry, two plays (An Inspector Calls and The Tempest), and a novel (Northanger Abbey).  Assessment is through terminal examinations at the end of the Upper V year.

Upper V

English Language   AQA Specification 4705

In English Language, students respond critically to media reading and literary non-fiction, and hone their writing skills for a variety of purposes and audiences.  They respond critically to Spoken Language as well as building confidence in speaking and listening skills.  They are assessed by a combination of Controlled Assessment (60%) and Examination (40%).

English Literature   AQA Specification 4710

In English Literature, the girls study literary texts from three genres, poetry, prose and drama.  They learn to interpret the texts analytically and imaginatively, exploring the contexts in which they are written.  They are assessed by a combination of Controlled Assessment (25%) and Examination (75%).

Key Stage 5:  Ages 16 - 18

English Literature in Sixth Form

Girls who choose English Literature at A level have a real love for reading and are eager to encounter texts from a wide variety of genres and eras, including seeking out supplementary reading beyond the curriculum.  They eagerly discuss ideas and interpretations.

AS & A Levels – English Literature –OCR Examination board
AS HO71/A2 H471

Students encounter and analysis of texts ranging from Chaucer to the 21st century.  Emphasis on close reading and the development of research skills prepares them for work at university.  Sixth Form candidates gain confidence through developing an exploratory response to challenging, influential texts.

Particular emphasis is on evaluation in context.  Students interpret the way in which writers choose form, structure and language to shape meanings, shaped by the historical and social concerns of their time.

The course consists of four modules, two of which are examined at the end of the AS year. The final two modules complete the A level qualification in English Literature.

How can I help my daughter?


Read to and with your daughter, giving her a chance to read aloud as soon as she is able.  A book list is distributed by her class teacher that will provide ideas about appropriate material.

It is also a good idea for her to see interesting, age-appropriate films.

A trip to the Pantomime at Christmas time introduces her to a great traditional British genre in an enjoyable way.

The Times Spelling Bee website offers a variety of activities in which the whole family can become involved!


Take an active interest in your daughter’s reading and discuss both plot and characters with her.

Encourage her to read widely and independently, choosing from the list provided for her by her English teacher.

Audiobooks are a wonderful learning resource at this age.  Students can often listen to material more advanced than their reading level to improve their vocabulary and comprehension.

Interesting, age-appropriate films, especially adaptations of classic novels, provide brilliant stimulus at this level.

Writing a holiday journal, poetry or stories will also stimulate her imagination and help her develop an individual writing style.

Reading First News and watching BBC’s Newsround also provide a window on the world and material for discussion with your daughter.

BBC Bitesize Key Stage 2 offers a revision program including games and quizzes for this level.  The Times Spelling Bee website offers a variety of activities in which the whole family can become involved!


Encourage your daughter to keep reading.  The English Department will give your daughter a list of suggested novels; she will be asked to write a book report in a lesson towards the end of each half-term in Key Stage 3.

Encourage your daughter to broaden her understanding of the world around her through reading a quality newspaper and watching news from a reliable source, either on television or online.

Take your daughter to plays and musicals of the appropriate range of content and interest for her age level.  She might enjoy writing a play of her own and acting it out with her friends.

Read poems aloud with your daughter.  Encourage her to write her own!

Read the class texts alongside her, and discuss them with her.

Keep track of homework completion to make sure your daughter’s work is thorough and accurate.


The pressures of GCSE work reduce free time for your daughter at this level.  While time with her friends is essential, she should also be continuing to read both quality fiction and quality newspapers in order to broaden her understanding both of language and of the world around her. 

In Lower V, the move to IGCSE curriculum has meant that parents can be involved in much the same ways as at Key Stage 3, with encouragement to read challenging literature, keep up to date with current issues, and think through her own reactions and responses. 

In Upper V, some of her assessment in English Language will take place in Controlled Assessment conditions at school.  The English Department will provide the dates for this assessment.  You can help your daughter by talking through ideas with her and making sure she understands the criteria for top marks, according to the marking guidelines distributed by her English teacher.

Theatre visits are a wonderful way to explore the creative imagination with your daughter.


By this time your daughter is an increasingly independent learner.  She might be ready to start planning her own theatre adventures with a classmate.  Visits to museums and galleries may also be appropriate for her to plan, either accompanied by you or with a friend.  She is blessed to live in one of the liveliest and most diverse capitals in the world and should be encouraged to take advantage of this!  Visits to the Globe Theatre and an excursion to Stratford-upon-Avon would also greatly benefit her.

Career progression

English Literature is a flexible and adaptable subject that opens up a wide range of career choices. English graduates are recruited for general management, research and consultancy and public service, as well as publishing and creative industries.

Trips  and Activities

Visits from play troupes extend the girls’ creative and dramatic expressions.  In 2011, the Orange Tree Theatre led a workshop on ‘The Tempest’ for Upper I and Lower II.  The girls then attended a performance of the play.  In 2012, all the Juniors are involved in workshops in school on ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and will attend a performance at Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond.


Visiting poets offer readings and workshops to classes from Junior School through to Sixth Form. In the last few years we have been able to have the children’s author,  Julia Golding,  lead story writing workshops with Lower II and Upper II whilst Valerie Bloom has conducted Poetry Writing Workshops for Juniors.  In the Senior section of the school we have produced an anthology of students’ poetry after the Faber poet, Tom Warner ran a series of creative writing workshops with students. The scheme is very popular and in 2014 the Tom Warner Workshops will again be available to Lower V students and above. National Poetry Day has been celebrate at school with visits from Daljit Nagra, Lorraine Mariner, Liz Berry and Jack Underwood, all of whom have given readings and run writing exercises with students from the Senior School. 

Most significantly, Tom Warner has offered an intensive five-session poetry writing class to selected students from Lower V to Upper VI.  His last workshop culminated in an acclaimed public reading by ‘the Tom Warner poets’.  Despite living in faraway Norfolk, he has agreed to repeat the workshop in 2013-2014.

A Creative Writing club also runs weekly with many extension activities and experiences on offer.

The following represent the types of trips regularly offered by the English Department. 


Visit type

Target Group

1940s   Experience

A   literary and historical experience to enhance understanding of Goodnight, Mr Tom.

Upper   II


Regent’s   Park Open Air Theatre

A   visit to enjoy a play in summer term.

Form   III

Globe Theatre

A   tour and performance focusing on the conventions of Shakespeare’s plays, to enhance the study of Merchant of Venice.

Upper   IV


A   talk at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, a tour of the Birthplace and a   performance at the Festival Theatre

As available

Other theatre visits are arranged as appropriate to the curriculum in GCSE and A Level.