Welcome to English

Welcome to the English Department! The study of literature and language is at the heart of our subject:

It is through language that experience is expressed.  If the limits of our language are the limits of our world, it is essential that English courses extend these limits.  At the heart of this is the study of literature, which offers rich opportunities to be in touch with other minds, other values, other worlds.  The active acquisition of language skills allows access to the sophisticated responses for life in contemporary society.

English, then, is vital to everyday life.  Learning in the English Department will focus on developing pupils’ ability to read, write, talk and listen with increasing confidence and sophistication.  Pupils will study a variety of texts from the genres of prose, poetry, drama and film.  They will write in a variety of styles, ranging from personal to creative to discursive.  Pupils will also develop close reading and language skills.  Opportunities for constructive talk, both in groups and individually, will be given.  Regular personal reading at home, including good quality journalism, is particularly important.  Work is assessed on an ongoing basis through a series of key assignments, therefor it is vital that pupils work hard in class at all times and do homework, particularly personal reading, to the best of their ability.   

The English Department works closely with the school librarian in order to promote personal reading.  We aim to establish a reading culture, which values a wide range of reading and encourages appreciation and discussion of it between teachers and pupils and parents.  All classes in S1-3 have regular timetabled library visits, enabling pupils to borrow, read and review books throughout the school year.      

Parents have such an important part to play.  This includes discussing and commenting on assessments, rehearsing Talks, discussing and commenting on Book Reviews and encouraging regular reading, which makes such a difference and not just in English: keen readers tend to do well in other subjects too. 

Most employers, college and university courses require an English qualification as an entry requirement.  In all areas of life, a good command of English will help you to succeed!  

English related careers include:

  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • English Teaching/Lecturing
  • Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Communications
  • Sales
  • Politics
  • Writing
  • Copywriter
  • Publishing
  • History

S1 - S3

Broad General Education (BGE) S1-3

Pupils in S1-3 will progress through the English and Literacy Outcomes of a Curriculum for Excellence.  They will study novels, short stories, shorter passages, drama, poetry and film, all of which will broaden their understanding of language and its uses.  


Pupils are taught in mixed ability classes.  Our Support for Learning and Pupil Support colleagues liaise with P7 teachers to ensure that we are aware of pupils’ abilities and needs, including examples of work produced in P7 and their P7 English Report.     


We aim to develop pupils as active, critical, evaluative readers.  They will recognise and respond to a text’s major aspects: themes, structure, plot, characterisation and writer’s craft.  Ability to write critically about a text depends on awareness of and reflection on its major elements and also on the understanding of the ways in which language is used to convey the writer’s intentions.  Pupils will also study shorter passages in order to develop their close reading skills.    


We aim to develop pupils as active writers and to make them familiar with a set of key ideas about good writing, including attention to purpose and readers’ needs; attention to logic, connections and structure; selection of language to achieve purpose; attention to spelling, punctuation and grammar.  Pupils will be regularly engaged in the process of thinking and planning, drafting and redrafting, checking and evaluating, ensuring technical accuracy, and effective presentation.  

Talking and Listening

We aim to develop pupils as effective contributors and listeners, with talking and listening being part of the teaching process.  Discussion skills include contributing, listening, understanding, summarising and questioning.  Individual Talks require pupils to engage in planning, generating ideas and writing notes.  When delivering talks, pupils will be made aware of the importance of volume, clarity, pace, eye-contact, posture, gesture and interaction with audience, including question handling.   


Progress is assessed on an ongoing basis through a series of key assessments: Personal, Creative and Discursive Writing, Critical Essays on Novels and Poetry, and Individual Talks.  Pupils’ work will be taken home to parents for discussion and comment.  Pupils will also maintain Personal Reading Records, with book reviews to be completed and signed by parents on an ongoing basis. 


Third year pupils are allocated to classes according to the ability and commitment they have shown throughout second year.  They will continue to follow a common course, based on the English and Literacy Outcomes of a Curriculum for Excellence. In addition to Reading, Writing and Talking Assessments, there will also be Close Reading Exams in May.  These arrangements will ensure that pupils are prepared for National Qualification courses the following year. 

Senior Phase

The transition from the Broad General Education to the Senior Phase is a natural one.  The skills acquired in S1-3 will continue to be developed through more challenging literature and language.  National courses reflect the values, purposes and principles of a Curriculum for Excellence and develop skills for learning, life and work.  Depending on progress in S3, pupils in S4 will follow a National 3, 4 or 5 English Course.  All of these courses further develop the skills of Reading, Writing, Talking and Listening in order to better understand and use language.  The study of literature is also at the heart of these courses.

National 3 and 4

The National 3 and 4 Courses require pupils to analyse and evaluate language through reading and listening, and to create and produce language through writing and talking.  These courses are assessed by a series of Unit Assessments, all of which must be passed in order to gain the final award.  For the National 4 Award, this includes an additional, Added Value Unit.   

National 5

The National 5 Course requires pupils to study challenging literature and language and to produce detailed pieces of writing in different genres.  

The course is assessed by:                                   

  • Individual Talk, which must be passed in order to sit the exam.                                         
  • Portfolio of Writing, Creative and Discursive, each up to 1000 words, externally marked: 30%          
  • Close Reading Exam, reading a difficult passage to Understand, Analyse and Evaluate: 30% 
  • Literature Exam, Critical Essay on a play, poem, or novel (20%) and Scottish Textual Analysis Questions (20%)  


The Higher Course requires pupils to study more complex literature and language and to produce very detailed pieces of writing in different genres.  The entry requirement is at least a B at National 5.  

The course is assessed by:                                                                                                      

  • Individual Talk, which must be passed in order to sit the exam.                             
  • Portfolio of Writing, Creative and Discursive, each up to 1300 words, externally marked: 30%         
  • Reading for Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation Exam, reading two difficult passages to Understand, Analyse and Evaluate: 30%        
  • Literature Exam: Critical Essay on a previously studied play, poem, or novel (20%) and Textual Analysis of a previously studied Scottish text (20%). 

Advanced Higher

The Advanced Higher Course requires pupils to apply critical, analytical and evaluative skills to complex literature and to produce sophisticated pieces of writing in different genres.  It should only be considered by pupils with a genuine interest in serious literature and a commitment to creative writing and independent study.

 The course is assessed by:                                                                                                           

  • Dissertation, a 2500-3500 essay researching, reading and writing about a literary topic: 30%                  
  • Portfolio of Writing, two pieces of writing in any genre: 30%                                         
  • Literary Study Exam, detailed essay on the work of a novelist or playwright: 20%                              
  • Textual Analysis Exam, detailed response to unseen Poetry, Prose or Drama: 20% 

Extra Curricular

Supported Study

Supported Study is on offer to all pupils.  Classes take place in the lead up to prelims and exams, including during the April holiday.


  • Author visits.
  • Theatre director visits.
  • Writing competitions (BGE).
  • World Book Day activities.
  • National Poetry Day activities.


  • Cinema trips.
  • Theatre trips.