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St Colman's High & Sixth Form College, Ballynahinch




  • Mrs M Fettes (Head of Department)
  • B Walsh (SENCO)
  • Mrs P Clarke
  • Mrs A Canning
  • Miss N Carlin
  • Miss J Kerr

Our Departmental Aim:

 “Broadly, our aim is that every pupil in St Colman’s has an enjoyable and rewarding experience of English through the delivery of the subject and that they reach their optimum potential in all areas of the English Curriculum.”

Key Stage 3

We encourage an enthusiasm among the students for using the written and spoken word with care and precision, and the teaching of literature remains central to that aim, as has been the positive encouragement of imaginative writing. Primarily, we try to develop subject knowledge and enhance the specific skills of reading, writing and speaking and listening in accordance with the Northern Ireland Curriculum guide-lines.

Students in Key-Stage 3 experience a wide variety of lessons. Pupils study a class novel, have opportunities to explore Shakespearean extracts, read and compose poetry, take part in lively debates and group discussions, create their own films, use iPad apps such as Shadow Puppet, SimpleMind and Kahoot, and they learn to analyse and critique multimedia texts such as websites and book covers. 

Students at Key-Stage 3 are taught their skills through thematic schemes of work. The topics we explore include: First Days of School, Super Heroes, Myths and Legends, Gothic Writing, Propaganda and Conflict, Discrimination and Multimedia Texts. 

We see the display of pupils' work as a positive encouragement in English and so we publish good work on the School’s Social Media platforms and on the highly decorative walls of the department.

Key Stage 3 students complete one written homework per week but this is often supplemented with independent reading and spelling and grammar exercises. 

Our aim is for every student to enjoy reading  rather than feel that it is a chore and so our reading sessions are informal, are frequently accompanied by treats and take the form of book clubs. We also seek guardian support with a paired reading scheme for one term in Year 8.

Key Stage 4

Students in Key Stage 4 have the opportunity to study GCSE Literature and Language. Literature is an option rather than an obligatory subject.  Both subjects follow the CCEA GCSE specification.

GCSE English Language is a two year course; during that time students develop their skills in reading, writing and speaking and listening. To maximise the chances of success, students sit exams in the Summer of Year 11, Winter of  Year 12 and the Summer of Year 12. This allows students to have multiple attempts of the externally assessed exam units. 

Specification At A Glance 

Unit 1  Exam  -  Time: 1 hour 45 min

Unit 2  Speaking and Listening 

Unit 3  Controlled Assessment 

Unit 4 Exam - Time: 1 hour 45 min

To improve standards, students (and their guardians) are encouraged to complete DIRT exercises after they complete a task. DIRT stands for "directed improvement and reflection time"; it often takes place in the first few minutes of a lesson, where pupils are expected to respond to feedback but we also have created detailed feedback documents which allow pupils and parents to set personal targets for improvement in subsequent tasks.

GCSE English Literature is a very successful subject in terms of exam result outcomes. Students study a novel and unseen literature in Year 11 and they complete the exam at the end of their first year. In Year 12, they complete their Controlled Assessment on Shakespeare and the final exam on drama and literature. Currently, students study these texts:

  • Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck 
  • An Inspector Calls by Priestley
  • Macbeth by Shakespeare
  • Conflict poems.

All students are provided with a bank of study resources, useful apps and links. They also can avail of extracurricular support if required.

Key Stage 5

A’Level English

Pupils who opt to study A’Level English Literature follow the CCEA specification. In their first AS year,  pupils study a 19th century novel ( Wuthering Heights)  and a poetry anthology. The poets of focus are Seamus Heaney and Robert Frost. 

At A2 Level, the students complete an independent assessment based on two novels of their choice. In addition they study a  Shakespearean Tragedy ( King Lear) and poems by John Donne.

All students are provided  with very detailed notes and resources on Google Classsroom and they receive study aids and links to useful websites and sources.

Only students who have a passion for reading and independent study should consider this course. 

Extra Curricular Activities:

Key Stage 3    Creative Writing

Key Stage 4    After school support in English Literature 

Key  Stage 5    Public Speaking 





Where to find us:

The English Department is located on the lower floor of the school in Rooms C, D and E and one class is based adjacent to the well-resourced school Library. All the rooms are bright and welcoming with creative displays showcasing the work of our students.

All students are furnished with quality novels, text books and of course many iPad resources and iBooks to facilitate their learning. All students are given online library access codes so that they can read any books they require on their iPads.


What we do best:

Our students’ success in GCSE English Literature is to be applauded. Last year 100% of students attained an A*- C grade with over 50% attaining an ‘A’ or ‘A*’ grade!  Every year we attain over a 95% success rate and many years replicate the success of 2017.


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