Our philosophy

The English department's aim is to encourage pupils to become independent readers, thinkers, listeners and writers who can work sensitively with others to shape, refine and express their own understanding through language. There are two main interwoven ideas which underpin and guide the teaching of the Department at all levels.

  1. Students come to a better appreciation of literature through a fuller understanding of language as a personal and cultural medium of communication.

  2. The essay is the final act of a sophisticated process of communication which embraces all the core skills of being a successful student of English: listening, reading, thinking, discussing, reflecting, planning, writing, drafting. 

The curriculum seeks to explicitly teach these core skills and show how they have been shaped by - and shape - our society and ourselves.


A progressive philosophy ensures that each stage dovetails into the next stage, be it from Years 8 and 9 into IGCSE, or from IGCSE into the IB.

The IGCSE Literature course provides a rich diet of challenging literary texts including Julius Caesar by Shakespeare and poems by Thomas Hardy. Assessment is through examination at the end of Year 11. 
The IGCSE Language course assesses students’ ability to write and understand the conventions of non-fiction texts like newspaper journalism. Assessment is mostly through examination at the end of Year 11 but oral assessment and written course-work are also included.

The IB Literature course covers a wide-range of exciting, demanding literary texts from various cultures and assessment is through examination as well as written course-work and oral assessments. This is also the case with the IB English Language and Literature course although there is more of an emphasis on linguistics, and language as a social, cultural medium.


We seek to foster a profound appreciation for literature both through ambitious, challenging courses and through fostering a rich cultural life for English in the School.
 Residential creative writing courses with the Arvon Foundation are organised; pupils are encouraged to participate in the student–led creative writing magazine The Writers’ Block; creative writing competitions for both poetry and prose are promoted; there are residential trips to Stratford to work with actors and directors from the Royal Shakespeare Company and watch RSC productions at world renowned theatres; pupils attend literary lectures at St Andrews University; internationally acclaimed poets and writers are invited into the School for readings and workshops.  

Pupils have the opportunity to develop further their appreciation for the spoken word and the art of considered reasoning, by taking part in Debating. The School’s debating team receives regular expert coaching from members of the St Andrews University Debating Club and St Leonards has been playing host to a growing number of prestigious debating contests.

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Open Morning 2018

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