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What will I learn?

The English Department aims for excellence in all areas of the curriculum. We aspire to foster in our pupils a love of language and literature, and to build the confidence to express themselves with clarity, insight and flair. Pupils read a wide variety of fiction, poetry and drama; combined with a focus on clear and structured writing, excellent teaching and a vibrant series of department trips, we provide enthusiasm and depth to the study of English, both inspiring and challenging our pupils.

Year 7

In the first year of their secondary education, the English Department whisk Year 7 through the magical and poignant world of English Literature through the study of novels, poetry and plays.

Beginning the term with a unit based on descriptive writing, Year 7 use the classic text, The Diary of Anne Frank, to explore the conventions of biography and description, and to begin developing key skills of reading comprehension, language analysis and writing for description.

Throughout the year, Year 7 pupils will also read William Shakespeare’s enchanting A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an anthology of poetry on the theme of ‘Animals and Nature’, and a Gothic novel, such as Circe du Freak or A Monster Calls.

Moreover, pupils will learn and practice persuasive writing and speaking, as well as be given the chance to explore their own creativity by crafting their own narratives.

In short, the Year 7 curriculum aims to truly inspire and develop an appreciation of writing, language and culture.

Year 8

The Year 8 Curriculum picks up where Year 7 left off, working to develop further the key skills of language analysis, reading comprehension and literary appreciation.

‘Growing up’ is a thematic focus for our Year 8 pupils and, in preparation for their GCSE studies, we introduce them to 19th century literature, reading classics such as Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland or Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. They will also continue their study of Shakespeare, investigating Elizabethan drama through Romeo and Juliet or Julius Caesar. Moreover, pupils explore the theme of ‘power and conflict’ in a poetry anthology, as well as consider the idea of ‘exploring the world’ through reading a series of non-fiction accounts of journalists, scientists and adventurers discovering the interesting, the curious and the unknown.

Year 8 will also learn key research skills, addressing the controversial question of ‘should the UK abolish the monarchy?’ Pupils will read around the issue and use their learning to write and deliver a persuasive speech on the issue.

What will they decide?

Year 9

Year 9 begins the preparation for the IGCSE. To this end, pupils study great prose works such as Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck or William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. As tales of friendship, hardship and misfortune, Year 9 uncover the art of social commentary and revel in the literary and cultural richness of such age-defining texts.

Pupils also continue their appreciation of poetry, reading previous GCSE anthologies on the theme of ‘love and relationships,’ covering a range of periods, to explore how poetry is crafted for specific effect. Additionally, they come to appreciate dramatic tragedy by reading plays such as Dr Faustus or Death of a Salesman.

By the end of Year 9, pupils work on the first draft of a piece of English language coursework that will go towards their final IGCSE grade in the subject, officially beginning their transition to IGCSE.


Pupils at Hill House School sit the Cambridge International GCSE Exams for both language and literature, a specification that permits a great deal of flexibility in terms of teaching and learning, while also exposing pupils to a wide range of engaging and life-affirming texts – preparing them fully for the academic and professional worlds which await them.

During the years of IGCSE study, pupils are expected to utilise all the skills taught and developed throughout Key Stage 3 in order to become and be critical readers and thinkers, as well as deeply analytical writers.

For the language IGCSE, pupils complete three pieces of coursework (a descriptive piece, a narrative piece and a persuasive piece), which combine to constitute 50% of their final grade. They will also sit one exam, focused on comprehending and analysing non-fiction texts which pupils will practise throughout the two years, which constitutes the remaining 50% of the grade. 

For the literature IGCSE, pupils sit two exams – one on a drama set text (either Macbeth, A View from the Bridge, or The Crucible) and one on prose and poetry (the prose text being John Knowles’ American classic A Separate Peace) – which constitute 75% of the final grade, while two pieces of coursework make the final 25%.  

Overall, the academically rigorous IGCSE syllabus helps to create well-read pupils who write well, read critically and speak confidently, all key skills which ready them for the next stage of challenges and excitement in their lives.