Fluent literacy and an ability to express clearly what is thought and felt is essential to academic success, and fulfilment of career ambitions, but English is also concerned with developing creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, independence and adaptability – all key skills in the 21st century.

Being able to enjoy and explore a wide-range of texts enlarges a pupil’s understanding of the world outside their own time and place as well as improving their ability to communicate accurately and with clarity.

English is at the very heart of a John Lyon education. Alongside Mathematics, English is a core discipline studied by all pupils from Year 7 through to the end of (I)GCSEs in Year 11, where pupils sit both English Language and English Literature exams. English Literature remains one of the most popular subject choices at A-Level.

Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 | Core subject

In the first three years, the John Lyon English Department places emphasis on developing key analytical skills and excellent literacy, through a rich and varied curriculum. The English Department places emphasis on reading as a lifelong activity, considering everything from classic texts to modern media, to encourage our pupils to engage wholeheartedly with the world, appreciating, criticising and questioning what they read. We develop this love of literature and creativity through a rich plethora of activities, engaging every pupil from the most avid book-worm to the most reluctant reader.

Year 10 and 11 | IGCSE | Core subject

Both core English GCSE qualifications are of crucial importance in terms of delivering key skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening. Pupils will have the opportunity to explore a diverse range of literature from different genres and time periods. Wider reading is essential for success in English and we have high expectations of pupils completing their own reading at home in addition to set homework.

IGCSE set authors for English Literature include William Shakespeare and John Steinbeck. Pupils are expected to write at length about their set texts. Coursework, written in Year 10, is based on drama texts.

The English Language examination focuses on non-fiction texts and creative writing. There is an anthology of passages and poems to be prepared for the exam. There is no coursework in English Language.

– As a core subject there are no requirements to study IGCSE English

– Edexcel IGCSE 4EA1 English Language A
– Edexcel IGCSE 4ET1 English Literature

Sixth Form, A-Level | option subject

This course involves the study of literary texts, novels, poetry and plays, from Chaucer to the modern day. Assessment is by examination (80%) and coursework (20%). Lessons are based upon discussion and the personal response of students is the focus of the course. There is also scope, through coursework in particular, for students to explore their own literary interests. Students will be expected to read widely around the course, both in the area of critical analysis and also of other, similar, texts. Students will be invited to articulate and develop their own responses to the texts studied. Students should expect to be stimulated, engaged and challenged by the content of the course.

– Grade 7 at (I)GCSE English Literature and grade 6 at (I)GCSE English Language.

– OCR A-Level H472 English Literature

John Lyon Success

– 36% of A-Level students achieved an A* grade in English Literature.
– 71% of IGCSE pupils were awarded 9-7 grades.
– Asher Weisz (2019) left John Lyon to read Classics at Balliol College, University of Oxford.

Outside the Classroom

John Lyon’s extensive list of extra-curricular activities includes many options for pupils who enjoy the English language, including Book and Film Club, Comic Book Club, Drama Club and Debating.

Beyond School

Having a sophisticated grasp of English allows a pupil to access a wide range of academic subjects at the highest level and to convey their understanding with precision. The subject also instils the skills of debate and critical argument, which can be applied in virtually all academic subjects and career paths. English is respected by universities and employers because it is rigorous, helps to extend a student’s sympathetic imagination and demands a sophisticated use of literacy. English can be studied alone at university or in combination with another subject, e.g. History or Politics.

In Sixth Form, English complements any other subject. It makes a popular and useful course esteemed by law conversion courses for aspiring barristers and solicitors and provides the gateway for many creative degree subjects and respected professions. It can also be useful for students following traditional STEM courses to demonstrate that they are also an effective communicator. A student who succeeds in English demonstrates that their communication and analytical skills are of the highest order. These skills are essential for success in any future career.