In English we believe that words and language are essential to all human life and activity. The Bible says: ‘In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.’ We believe that all human creativity and thought depends on words and it is through our language that we can express our love for God, for his creation and for each other. English contributes to our learning and faith community by:

  • Allowing pupils opportunities to question and reflect on the written word, literature, media and social texts
  • Encouraging creativity and enquiry
  • Giving pupils opportunities to reason and explore ideas about justice and responsibility
  • Teaching pupils to empathise with others and to respect their thoughts, feelings and opinions.


Download Programme of Learning


The English Department aims to motivate, enthuse and inspire all learners so that they have a curiosity and active interest in English language and literature.  We believe that all pupils should experience and enjoy the very best that the English language can offer.  We seek to provide every opportunity for all pupils to make progress in their learning to achieve their full potential.

A wide range of learning and teaching strategies are employed to support pupils in communicating their ideas fluently, accurately and powerfully in speech and writing.  We promote a love of literature and encourage widespread reading for pleasure.

The English curriculum fosters a lasting enjoyment and appreciation of literature and language, ensuring that all pupils experience a wide range of literary and non-literary texts from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty first centuries in a variety of forms, genres and from a range of cultures.  Ultimately, we want our pupils to be skilful and confident communicators who are fully prepared for adult life in modern Britain.

The English department is staffed by a strong, enthusiastic and forward-thinking team of specialist teachers and teaching assistants.

Pupils are taught in ability groups (top, middle and low ability) and have four one-hour lessons per week.


Programme of Study


Year 7

Unit 1: Gothic Tales

Unit 2: The News

Unit 3: Extraordinary Lives

Unit 4: Our World

Unit 5: Pen Rhythm 

Author’s studied: Benjamin Zephaniah, William Blake

Class novels include: Roald Dahl Boy; R.J. Palacio Wonder; Louis Sachar Holes; John Boyne The Boy in Striped Pyjamas


Year 8

Unit 1: The Detective Story

Unit 2: The History of Language

Unit 3: Childhood

Unit 4: Drama

Unit 5: Shakespeare A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream

Authors studied: Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Seamus Heaney (Beowulf)

Class novels include: Michael Morpurgo Private Peaceful; Anthony Horowitz Ravensgate; Marcus Sedgewick My Swordhand is Singing


Year 9:

Unit 1: The Short Story

Unit 2: The Language of Conflict

Unit 3: Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet

Unit 4: Travellers and Explorers

Unit 5: An Introduction to the Gothic Genre

Authors studied: William Shakespeare, Owen Sheers, John Steinbeck, Mary Shelly, Susan Hill, War Poets

Class novels include: Patrick Ness A Monster Calls; Anne Cassidy Looking for JJ


Years 10 and 11

GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature – for examination from 2017 onwards

Please note that pupils sitting GCSE from 2017 onwards will follow new GCSE specifications for GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature. All Cardinal Heenan pupils will be entered for these courses.

Assessment is by means of examination only, at the end of the course. Speaking and listening skills are assessed in class by the teacher and will be endorsed separately.  There is no coursework or controlled assessment.

Further details of the new courses will be available shortly.

GCSE English, GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature – for examination in 2015 and 2016

All pupils sitting GCSE before 2017 follow a two year course preparing for either a single GCSE English or for two GCSEs, English Language and English Literature, set by the AQA examining body.  The current specification requires that 60% of the marks for the GCSE qualifications in English and English Language are assessed by terminal examination. There is a 75% terminal examination for English Literature. The remaining component is controlled assessment, completed under controlled conditions in class.

Texts studied include: Shakespeare Macbeth; Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird; John Steinbeck Of Mice and Men; Susan Hill The Woman in Black; a poetry anthology.


Extra-Curricular Activities

The department offers a full range of extra activities both at lunchtime and after school. These include: Debating Club, Philosophy and Critical Thinking Club, KS4 Book Group, Poetry Club, Film Club and Writing Club. All pupils are encouraged to become involved.

We encourage our pupils to enjoy live theatre with frequent organised trips to the West Yorkshire Playhouse.  The school also streams live productions to classrooms from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford upon Avon.


How the English Department actively promotes British Values through the curriculum

The English department prepares pupils for life in modern Britain by means of a broad and balanced curriculum. This includes study of a range of British heritage texts and authors, as well as modern poetry and non-fiction, to ensure that all pupils are aware of the diverse and rich literary culture at their fingertips. We explore current and topical issues through a variety of media and literature and ensure that every student accesses at least three plays by William Shakespeare, a novel by Charles Dickens and an anthology of poetry published from 1790 onwards.

Some of the British authors and playwrights we study:

William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Michael Morpurgo, Philip Pullman, David Almond, JK Rowling, Anne Fine, Diane Samuels, Adrian Flynn, Robert Swindells, Willy Russell, Alan Bennett, Meera Syal

Some of the British poets we study:

William Wordsworth, William Shakespeare, William Blake, Wilfred Gibson, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, John Cooper Clarke, Owen Sheers


Suggested Reading

‘The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
The more places you’ll go.’
Dr Seuss


Below are some initial suggestions of texts that could help to widen your reading.  You may be able to borrow copies from the school’s Learning Resource Centre (library), your local library or Leeds Central Library; many poems are also available to view for free online.  Please ask your English teacher for any further suggestions.


Short Stories

Tales of Mystery and Imagination – Edgar Alan Poe *
The Sisters and The Dead from Dubliners – James Joyce *



All My Sons – Arthur Miller *
Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller *
Doctor Faustus – Christopher Marlowe
The Cherry Orchard – Anton Chekhov †
The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde
Waiting for Godot – Samuel Beckett


Poetry ¥

John Agard – Listen Mr Oxford Don
Simon Armitage – November, You’re Beautiful *
W. H. Auden – But I Can’t, Musée de Beaux Arts
William Blake – Songs of Innocence and of Experience
Robert Burns – My Luve is like a Red, Red Rose
Samuel Taylor Coleridge – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Kubla Khan
John Donne – A Valediction: forbidding mourning, The Sun Rising, Love’s Growth
Robert Frost – Nothing Gold Can Stay, Fire and Ice, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, The Road Not Taken
Thomas Hardy – The Convergence of the Twain (Lines on the Loss of the “Titanic”)
George Herbert – Mortification, The Pulley
Ted Hughes – View of a Pig, Pike, Hawk Roosting, Six Young Men
John Keats – Ode to a Nightingale
Rudyard Kipling – The Deep-Sea Cables, The Way Through The Woods, If-
Walter De La Mare – The Listeners
Philip Larkin – A Writer, MCMXIV, All catches alight, An Arundel Tomb
Andrew Marvell – To his Coy Mistress, The Definition of Love, The Garden
John Milton – Paradise Lost, Books I to IV *
Ovid – Metamorphoses, specifically 'Narcissus and Echo', 'Phaethon', 'Daedalus and Icarus' and 'Orpheus and Eurydice' *‡
Wilfred Owen – Anthem for Doomed Youth
Christina G. Rossetti – Goblin Market
Percy Bysshe Shelley – Ode to the West Wind, Ozymandias, Stanzas written in Dejection — December 1818, Near Naples
Alfred Lord Tennyson – The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Lady of Shalott
Henry Vaughan – The Retreat, [They are all gone into the world of light!]
Andrey Voznesensky – First Ice
William Wordsworth – Lucy Gray, The Thorn, Tintern Abbey, [She dwelt among the untrodden ways]
William Butler Yeats – The Gyres


Twentieth Century Novels

Animal Farm – George Orwell
Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie *
Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell *
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald     
The Man Who Was Thursday – G. K. Chesterton
Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee


Eighteenth & Nineteenth Century Novels

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain*
Cranford – Elizabeth C. Gaskell
Dracula – Bram Stoker *
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy *
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Mysteries of Udolpho – Anne Radcliffe
The Old Wives’ Tale – Arnold Bennett
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde *
The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë


* – perhaps more suitable for GCSE students.
† – This play was written originally in Russian.  Respected translations include Chekhov: Plays, trans. and intro. Michael Frayn (Methuen, 1988) and Chekhov: Plays, trans. Peter Carson, intro. Richard Gilman (Penguin, 2004).
¥ - Anthologies of a wide variety of poetry include The Oxford Book of English Verse, ed. Christopher Ricks (Oxford: OUP, 1999).  For a comprehensive view of Romantic poetry (i.e. poetry written between c. 1789 and 1830), including detailed, high-level scholarly analysis and notes for each poem, see Romantic Poetry: An Annotated Anthology, ed. Michael O'Neill and Charles Mahoney (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007).  However, this edition is somewhat more costly and you should expect to be challenged by the level of analysis that it offers.  The volume introduces key poems from major poets, including Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Hemans, and Keats.
‡ – A verse translation from Latin into English may be more enjoyable to read as it should capture more faithfully Ovid's original poesy.  One such edition is Ovid, Metamorphoses, trans. A. D. Melville (Oxford: OUP, 2008).  This edition includes explanatory notes and a glossary and index of character names.


GCSE English Language

Board: AQA

Subject Code: 8700


Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing
Percentage of total marks 50%
Written Examination 1 hour 45 minutes

How writers use narrative and descriptive techniques to engage the interest of readers. 

Section A: reading a literature fiction text in order to consider how established writers use narrative and descriptive techniques
to capture the interest of readers. (25%)

Section B: writing a creative text, inspired by the topic in section A, to demonstrate narrative and descriptive skills in response
to a written prompt, scenario or visual image. (25%)

The source for the reading questions will be a prose fiction text, drawn from either the 20th or 21st century. It may be from a
novel or short story. The focus will be on openings, endings, narrative perspectives and points of view, narrative or descriptive
passages, character, atmospheric descriptions and other appropriate narrative and descriptive approaches.


Paper 2: Writers' Viewpoints and Perspectives
Percentage of total marks 50%
Written Examination 1 hour 45 minutes

How different writers present a similar topic over time.

The aim of this paper is to develop students’ insights into how writers have particular viewpoints and perspectives on issues or
themes that are important to the way we think and live our lives.

Section A: reading two linked sources from different time periods and genres in order to consider how each presents a perspective
or viewpoint to influence the reader. (25%)

Section B: producing a written text to a specified audience, purpose and form, on the theme that has been introduced to them
in section A. (25%)

The sources for the reading questions will be non-fiction and literary non-fiction texts. They will be drawn from the 19th century,
and either the 20th or 21st century depending on the time period assessed in Paper 1 in each particular series.

The choice of genre will include high quality journalism, articles, reports, essays, travel writing, accounts, sketches, letters, diaries,
autobiography and biographical passages or other appropriate non-fiction and literary non-fiction forms

Non – Exam Requirement:

All students prepare and deliver a presentation in a formal context, followed by a question and answer session. Students are
asked to respond appropriately to questions and to feedback, asking questions themselves to elicit clarification. Their ability to
use Standard English is part of the spoken language unit.

Recommended revision texts

York Notes for GCSE and CGP Revision Guides for GCSE
Revision Guides produced annually in school and distributed to all candidates free of charge.

Tips for Parents

Students should read fluently, and with good understanding, a wide range of texts from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, including
literature and literary non-fiction as well as other writing such as reviews and journalism

Places of interest/events – Encourage your child to join the following enhancement extra-curricular activities:

  • Visits to the theatre – arranged by school
  • Poetry Day
  • GCSE Conference
  • Debating group
  • KS4 Reading Group


GCSE English Literature

Board: AQA

Subject Code: 8702


Paper 1: Shakespeare and the 20th century novel
Percentage of total marks 40%
Written Examination 1 hour 45 minutes

Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


Paper 2: Modern Texts and Poetry
Percentage of total marks 60%
Written Examination 2 hour 15 minutes

J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls
Poetry from the AQA Anthology and a selection of unseen poetry.

All the assessments are closed book. Students are given an extract to focus their answer upon in the first instance before linking
it to the text as a whole.

Recommended revision texts

York Notes for GCSE and CGP Revision Guides for GCSE
Revision Guides produced annually in school and distributed to all candidates free of charge.

Tips for Parents

Places of interest/events – Encourage your child to join the following enhancement extra-curricular activities:

  • Visits to the theatre – arranged by school
  • Poetry Day
  • GCSE Conference
  • Debating group
  • KS4 Reading Group


Related Links

Please note that Cardinal Heenan is not responsible for the content of external websites.

Additional Reading for Years 7 & 8 - to be used in combination with the suggested reading above. - use the library catalogue to search for books, CDs, DVDs, talking books and videos in any of the Leeds Libraries. - regularly offers literature-related programmes for TV and radio.  Examples include the Radio 4 series Poetry Please and recent dramatic readings from the works of Edgar Alan Poe.

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