At the Convent of Jesus and Mary we give our students the opportunities and skills to be critical readers and effective writers. The English Department is a committed team of teachers who deliver lessons engineered to make the girls think and the team structure lessons that build confidence in the most important of life skills: communicating and reading.


Key Stage 3

The lower school curriculum is organised around six key skills rather than texts to allow students to be more explicitly aware of their progress in English as each skill is addressed, consolidated and mastered over the KS3 course. Key skills which are required from GCSE level all the way up to university are built into the curriculum and students are faced with increasingly challenging texts over the years in order to build their readiness to compete robustly in examination performances in their final two years.

Key Stage 4


The majority of our students will sit two GCSEs: English Literature and English Language (following the AQA curriculum).

To support our students’ organisation of their studies, students will sit their English Literature GCSE in year 10. There is no opportunity to re-sit this Literature GCSE.

English Literature GCSE

The English Literature GCSE assesses three core skills. First, the ability to construct a clear, well-shaped relevant response demonstrating confident knowledge of the set texts. The second skill assessed is the analysis of methods used by authors to shape their texts and messages. These two are the most important skills but students are also credited for judicious selection of relevant knowledge around the social/political/cultural contexts in which texts were written and received. The texts studied for GCSE are:

  • An Inspector Calls Priestley
  • Macbeth Shakespeare
  • A Christmas Carol Dickens
  • Poetry: power and conflict from AQA anthology

Please note that students cannot have any of these texts in the examination

English Language GCSE

The English Language examination rewards candidates who can read fluently and write effectively. The examination asks students to retrieve, infer, summarise, compare and evaluate unseen texts from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Candidates must also be also able to write coherently using standard English appropriately.


There are 2 papers for the English Literature examination and another 2 for the English Language examination.

Key Stage 5

There are three elements to the AQA English Literature A Level course: the study and investigation of the tragic genre and the crime which are publicly examined (80%) and a coursework element (20%). For the tragic genre, A level students study Shakespeare’s Othello, Hardy’s Tess d’Urberville and Miller’s Death of a Salesman. For the crime genre, students study Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Kate Atkinson’s When Will There Be Good New and a selection of poetry (Browning, Crabbe, Wilde). The spirit of this AQA curriculum pivots around the ability to construct an informed, academic debate around different approaches to the set texts. For the students’ coursework, we align ourselves very much with an academic approach and insist that the texts studied for coursework are not studied in class and every student should follow their own inquiry. Students are supported in their reading of the texts but ultimately we believe that the independent spirit in this approach supports students’ UCAS application for high quality universities and prepares them for their academic research.