Wholeschool Portal | Home 22 July 2018



Fri 29 June
- Last day of term (12.00 pm finish)




Head of Department:

Mrs Claire Woods, BA MA PGCE PQH


Teaching Staff:

Mr S Bond, BA MA PGCE w. History
(Acting Head of Department)
Mrs G McKeown, MPhil PGCE
Mrs N McKeown, BA PGCE
Miss J McKibbin, BA MA PGCE
Miss L Gormley, BA PGCE
Mrs S Czerepowicz BA, PGCE
Miss L. Snoddy B.A. Hons. PGCE




‘Only connect’

At Belfast High School, we aim to connect the teaching and learning of English Language and Literature, in order to equip our pupils for the language demands of the global workplace whilst simultaneously fostering a lifelong love of literature.


Pupils are also encouraged to develop as contributors to society. Exploration of fictional material in the English department frequently encourages pupils to reflect on the rights of others and the cultural diversity of our society. The study of non-fictional material enables pupils to be aware of how techniques of persuasion that the media uses have the power to inform, as well as influence and distort.

Pupils are encouraged to develop as contributors to the economy and environment. The issues that arise in the range of literature studied enables pupils to develop life skills. For example, the role play and interviews that are naturally part of the experience of the English classroom, help to develop and enhance the essential communication skills that will be required in future life/work situations.
By the end of Key Stage 3 English, pupils will have reached a secure platform to progress successfully and confidently on to GCSE English and English Literature.


Key Stage 3: Pupils engage in a wide range of activities in exploring texts in a variety of fiction, non-fiction and multi-media styles. Core literacy skills are given considerable focus with weekly library and literacy periods. Examinations are in Winter and Summer and core assessment tasks are taken throughout the year.

Key Stage 4 English Language:
The Department is currently introducing a new specification from CCEA, so that pupils in Year 11 are working to a different pattern of assessment to those in Year 12. Pupils in both year groups are exposed to a range of non-fiction and media texts and are encouraged to develop their skills in textual analysis, as well as developing their own writing ability in a range of styles. Pupils also have the opportunity to take part in a range of Speaking and Listening scenarios, including individual presentations, role play and group work.  

Key Stage 4 English Literature
The Department is also introducing a new specification from CCEA, so that pupils in Year 11 are working to a different pattern of assessment to those in Year 12. Pupils in both year groups are exposed to a range of literary texts including prose fiction (Of Mice and Men), drama (Dancing at Lughnasa, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet) and poetry. Examinations focus on the analysis of writers’ craft, and give pupils the opportunity to explore and develop their abilities in producing a cogent, sustained argument.

Key Stage 5 (Exam Board - CCEA):

Studying English Literature in Sixth Form is a popular choice at Belfast High School, not to mention a beneficial one. Not only is it extremely enjoyable, many universities also recognise the value of a student who has studied Literature at such an academic and rigorous level. The ability to fully interrogate written texts, and to view them from many different angles; to establish working links between the text and its socio-political-historical context; to appropriately structure and collate a wide variety of information from a host of disparate sources; the ability to express ideas and thoughts, and to respond to the thoughts and ideas of other readers: all this is enhanced by the study of Literature at A2/AS Level. 


Facilities and Resources


The core Belfast High School’s English teaching is firmly built around Literature. We have a host of fantastic novels and drama that Junior School work their way through, and we pride ourselves in keeping fresh cycles of everything from classics like ‘Treasure Island’, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ and ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ right up to contemporary works like ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ and ‘The Hobbit’. As well as a strong emphasis on Media teaching, the pupils are given designated time to focus on Drama and Library / Reading skills.

Drama and Library at Key Stage Three:
Pupils in Years 8 and 9 engage in timetabled Drama and Library lessons. These frequent opportunities to develop drama skills and make use of the school’s library resources enrich pupils’ learning and experience of Key Stage 3 English. Bronze and Silver Library Certificates are awarded to many pupils at the end of Years 8 and 9 respectively. In order to receive a certificate, pupils are challenged to read a wide range of fiction and non-fiction texts independently and to complete a variety of written tasks including book reviews and individual presentations.

Literacy Programmes:
Literacy is a whole school priority at Belfast High with all departments aspiring to improve Literacy through the teaching of their subject. In order to improve every pupil’s Literacy levels, a wide variety of strategies are in place. Support programmes are available to selected pupils in the Junior and Middle school which tackle the basics of spelling, punctuation and grammar. We also have an extensive Library-Literacy programme which is run through the English department, aiming to encourage and expand pupils’ personal reading habits. In a number of subject areas, book boxes are available in the classroom to develop different kinds of reading on all manner of subjects. Workshops from the authors Colin Bateman and Alex Scarrow and poets Ray Givans and Jonnie Hicks gave pupils the opportunity to meet and talk to successful writers. At Belfast High School we aspire to foster a love of reading and a command of both written and spoken language in all of our pupils.

Extra Support in English:
Belfast High School’s English Department is committed to monitoring and supporting the development of pupils throughout the academic year. With the close proximity of external examinations the department offers opportunities for pupils to reinforce learning through the aid of additional revision classes for GCSE, AS and A level. Pupils’ progress is also examined by the class teachers through comprehensive grade tracking and engagement with individual pupils. One to one meetings are used to establish justifiable and achievable goals which also offer teachers the chance to fuel pupils’ confidence. Teachers are dedicated to the academic and pastoral components of exam preparation.

Clubs and Societies:

Belfast High School’s musical productions are eagerly anticipated by junior and senior pupils alike, with recent successes namely Guys and Dolls and Elf Jnr. performances of Bugsy Malone – performed in November 2011 – presented opportunities for pupils from all year groups to display their talent in acting, dancing, singing and musicianship. Audiences received the musical with huge enjoyment and many pupils revelled in the thrill of making a public debut to the stage! Junior Drama Club provides a relaxed and supportive atmosphere for younger pupils to practise drama skills, develop confidence and, most importantly, experience the enjoyment of group work and performance.

Senior Debating Society
Our Senior Debating Society comprises a small but lively group of pupils from years 11 to 14. In a fun environment pupils are able to hone their oral skills through verbal combat, gaining confidence in their ability to articulate their ideas in an effective manner. The group have seen a number of successes in recent years. This year we are pleased to be through, again, to the final of the Belfast Buildings Preservation Trust Individual Speaker Debating Competition, held in Stormont at the end of April.

Sixth Form Book Group
Avid readers in Sixth Form, or those who are simply curious about literature, are welcome to join the school’s book group which meets every month. Pupils suggest the reading material in advance - ensuring a diverse blend of tastes for everybody – ranging from traditional classics to contemporary best sellers. The atmosphere is relaxed and the majority of the discussion is civilised. The group offers pupils the chance to improve their own personal library and to share their thoughtful opinions with their peers.

Useful links


CCEA English Microsite: www.ccea.org.uk/english_home/

Macbeth resources:  www.rsc.org.uk/explore/macbeth/

Student help: www.cliffsnotes.com/literature-study-guides.html

Student Help: www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/english