We, the English department in Strabane Academy, hope to instil, nurture and develop a wide variety of communication skills in our pupils. Communication skills are a vital tool that all our young people should be equipped with in today’s society, more so now than ever. With the increasing presence of the media, the ever-present political dialogue, the advent of ‘fake news’ and the encroachment of social media on the lives of today’s children, it is essential that we teach our pupils skills of analysis, interpretation, inference and empathy for people whose lives, represented through fiction and non-fiction, are very different from our own. These are the goals we will help our pupils pursue throughout their studies in English at Strabane Academy.

KS3 English

When pupils enter Year 8 in Strabane Academy they will find a continuity of the skills embedded at KS2. We endeavour to explore pupils’ skills in all areas of the English curriculum including Reading, Writing and Talking and Listening. Through a range of active lessons and appropriate resources, pupils in Years 8-10 will engage with poetry, prose, drama, non-fiction, media and multi-media, in an interactive way which will enhance their own creativity, imagination and analytical skills. These skills will form a solid foundation for the confident study of GCSE English Language and English Literature at KS4.

Should pupils have additional educational needs we work very closely with our SENCO to ensure each pupil achieves their potential.

Assessments at KS3 are sat in an interval pattern and the focus and weighting of these exams give pupils an insight into the KS4 GCSE examination process.


KS4 English Language

Every pupil in Strabane Academy will study GCSE English Language (CCEA). This is an essential qualification required by the vast majority of employers and third level educational institutions. This course will be studied over a two-year period and pupils are encouraged to explore and respond, both imaginatively and critically, to a variety of texts. Students use reading to improve their writing skills. They also enhance their understanding of how language variations relate to identity and cultural diversity. Transferable skills such as selecting and adapting speech and writing to suit different situations and audiences will also be developed.

From 2017, pupils have the opportunity to achieve a recognition of achievement in Functional English.

The specification provides a sound basis for progression to further study, higher education or employment. This qualification can lead to careers in the media, advertising or marketing and, with further study, teaching or law.

Pupils will study 4 units within their English Language GCSE

  • Unit 1: Writing for Purpose and Audience and Reading to Access Non-Fiction and Media Texts
  • Unit 2: Speaking and Listening
  • Unit 3: Studying Spoken and Written Language
  • Unit 4: Personal or Creative Writing and Reading Literary and Non-Fiction Texts.


KS4 English Literature

Pupils in Pathway 1 will study GCSE English Literature (CCEA). This course encourages pupils to be enthusiastic, independent, imaginative, critical and analytical readers. Through interactive and specifically developed resources we aim to increase their enjoyment of reading, helping to nurture a lifelong love of literature. The course deepens pupils’ knowledge and understanding of a range of poetry, prose and drama, including texts by local and modern writers. Pupils explore the impact of language, structure and form in the texts. Connecting the texts’ ideas, themes and issues is another key focus. Pupils also learn how to explain settings, characters and themes creatively through social, cultural and historical contexts. They develop their ability to research, plan and prepare their responses using their own ideas and interests, as well as critical reading.

Transferable skills, such as generating creative, individual responses to problems and writing accurately and clearly, will also be nurtured and developed.

Pupils will study 3 units within their English Literature GCSE; two written exams and one extended writing task.

            Unit 1: The Study of Prose

            Unit 2: The Study of Drama and Poetry

            Unit 3: The Study of Shakespeare.

KS5 English Literature (CCEA)

Pupils will:

  • Study a wide range of interesting texts include modern, female, local authors and poets
  • Study the Shakespearean genre: tragedy, comedy, problem or last plays
  • Complete an in-depth comparative study of two novels as coursework

Pupils will explore a wide range of literary texts written by Irish writers as well as literature from around the world. Pupils read texts from the canon alongside those of more modern writers. They learn about different critical approaches and how texts can reflect cultural meanings.

Through engaging with a wide and challenging range of texts, pupils develop their interest in and enjoyment of literature. They also develop the skills of critical thinking, research and analysis, all of which are valued in further education as well as in the workplace


AS Course


A2 Course


Unit AS 1: The Study of Poetry 1900–Present and Drama 1900–Present

Poetry: Seamus Heaney and Robert Frost.

Drama: Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar named Desire.


Unit AS 2: The Study of Prose Pre 1900

Prose: Nathaniel Hawthorne, the Scarlet Letter


Assessment for AS:

AS1: 60% of AS   (24% of A level)


AS2: 40% of AS   (16% of A level)


Unit A2 1: Shakespearean Genres (20% of A level)

Drama Text: King Lear


Unit A2 2: The Study of Poetry Pre 1900 and Unseen Poetry (20% of A level)

Section A: John Donne

Section B: Unseen Poetry


A2 3: Internal Assessment (20% of A level)

Students engage in a detailed study of two novels, one of which must be a twenty-first-century novel. They then complete a 2500-word essay on this pair of themed novels.


Studying English Literature at KS5 demands a high level of critical awareness and aims to develop the ability to express that awareness through an extensive and accurately used critical vocabulary. AS/A2 students are encouraged to be independent thinkers and consider a range of interpretations of texts before arriving at an informed personal response.  At this level, students will be encouraged to take more responsibility for their own learning and a considerable amount of reading, research and preparation will be done in the students’ own time.  In keeping with the Department’s emphasis on wider reading, students are encouraged to read extensively a range of classic and contemporary literature and to share their opinions on what they read frequently with fellow students, all of which should enhance their enjoyment and appreciation of literature.

Career Choices

English Literature is a subject that helps to develop many important skills and attributes. The close reading skills required help to develop both powers of analysis and independence of thought.  As well as the more obvious professions of teaching and journalism, there are many others for which the study of English Literature is an excellent preparation.  Recently qualified students have gone to university to study a variety of subjects including: English Literature, Teaching, Fashion and Communication, SEN and Early Childhood Education, Computer Science, International Politics and Conflict Studies, Social Work, Biology, History, Health Studies, Drama, Criminology, Psychology, Law, Linguistics, Sociology and Speech and Language.

Extended Schools

In keeping with the high value placed on the school’s extra-curricular programme, the English Department offers pupils a wide range of curriculum enrichment activities:

  • All Year 8 pupils participate in the Accelerated Reader Programme in which they read specially selected books, take online quizzes and are rewarded for their participation.
  • We participate each year in the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children’s ‘Read On’ where Year 8 pupils hold a reading week.
  • Every year pupils have the opportunity to take part in the school production; our most recent showstopper being “Cinderella”.
  • World Book Day takes place annually and its main aim is to encourage young people to explore the enjoyment of reading. It is celebrated throughout the school with polls, quizzes, guest speakers and more!
  • Pupils can order books throughout the year from the Scholastic bookshop.
  • Year 8 pupils can audition for a place on the four-member team representing the school in The Times Spelling Bee held at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast. All Junior School pupils compete in the annual World Spelling Day competition.
  • KS5 pupils are looking forward to visiting the Seamus Heaney HomePlace
  • Theatre trips are frequently organised and have included recently pupils attending performances of Macbeth and An Inspector Calls.


Mrs S. Campbell-Hanna (Head of Department)

Mrs J. Duggan

Miss J. Walker

Dr. R. Bresland (Literacy Co-Ordinator)