Monmouth School for Boys classroomThe dedicated and dynamic English department is headed by Mr R Picken and includes four full time members of staff and two part time, representing a wide range of specialist interests and teaching experience.

Housed in the new William Jones Building, the department is located at the centre of the school, adjacent to the Drama Studio and the Blake Theatre. Teachers in the English Department support a variety of student activities, including supervising student contributions to the School’s weekly newspaper (The Lion), Debating and Public Speaking, Literary Society lectures for the Sixth Form, excursions to the theatre and cinema, and a range of field trips.

Whole School Literacy Programme

Literacy is a fundamental part of learning and, at Monmouth School for Boys, is incorporated across the whole curriculum. Students throughout the key stages are encouraged to read widely, as well as to be proactive in assessing the accuracy and efficacy of their own writing. At Key Stage Three there is a whole school topic timetable, focusing on one key area per half term. This topic is referred to in schemes of work across subject areas, as well as being reinforced in houses and within the English department.

Reading groups for strong, and less enthusiastic, readers are run in conjunction with the library and English departments and there are a range of different opportunities for pupils to join debates and public speaking competitions targeting their verbal literacy.

The skills identified at KS3 are designed to reflect the requirements of GCSEs, in order that students may express themselves with clarity and confidence in a range of different environments, purposes and for different audiences. These skills prepare students not just for their time at Monmouth School but also for future life and the literacy programme was seen as an area of strength in our most recent Estyn inspection.

Key Stage 3

Students in Years 7 -9 study a range of classic and contemporary texts; both fiction and non-fiction. Pupils will also study at least one play per year, enabling them to interact with the language and themes in a more physical and dynamic way.

There is a continued focus on key language skills and, while many of these are incorporated holistically within textual study, they are also addressed more discretely where appropriate, in class or at our weekly language clinics.

Throughout Key Stage 3 lessons are geared, with increasing focus, towards the diverse requirements of the iGCSE course that boys will go on to study in Years 10-11. This provides a strong basis for later study and maximises the boys’ written and verbal skills as they develop across the age range.

A number of co-curricular opportunities are also offered at Key Stage 3 including debating, public speaking, contributing to the school newspaper, literature evening, book groups and, for Year 8, the chance to perform in  the school’s annual Play in a Day.


IGCSE First Language English 0522:

Paper 2: Reading Passages (Extended) – Weighting 40%

  • 2 hours, 50 marks
  • Candidates answer three questions on two passages.
  • Passage A will be 650–750 words long and Passage B will be 550–650 words long.
  • This component is set and marked by Cambridge.
  • This component is eligible for grades A–E

Paper 3: Directed Writing and Composition (Core and Extended) – Weighting 40%

  • 2 hours, 50 marks
  • Candidates answer one question on a passage or passages totalling 650–750 words, and complete a composition task from a choice of four titles.
  • This component is set and marked by Cambridge.
  • This component is eligible for grades A–G.

Component 5: Speaking and Listening Test (Core and Extended) – Weighting 20%

  • Approximately 10–12 minutes, 30 marks
  • There is no question paper.
  • Candidates conduct an individual task and take part in a discussion. All candidates are recorded during the administration period.
  • This component is assessed by the teacher and moderated by Cambridge.
  • This component is eligible for grades A–G.

A* is available for the overall syllabus.

IGCSE English Literature 0486:

Component 1: Poetry and Prose – Weighting 50%

  • 1 hour 30 minutes, 50 marks
  • Candidates answer two questions on two texts: one poetry and one prose.
  • There is a choice of two questions (one passage-based and one essay) on each text.
  • This component is externally marked

Component 3: Drama – Weighting – 25%

  • 45 minutes, 25 marks
  • Candidates answer one question on one text.
  • There is a choice of two questions (one passage-based and one essay) on each text.
  • This component is  externally marked

Component 4: Unseen = Weighting – 25%

  • 1 hour 15 minutes, 25 marks
  • Candidates answer one question.
  • There is a choice of two questions requiring critical commentary (one based on literary prose and one based on a poem or extract of a poem).
  • This component is  externally marked

A Level

The study of OCR English Literature at Monmouth School for Boys is exciting and academically challenging.  Pupils develop an appreciation of the English language and the literature which has shaped it, an awareness of cultural context and the ability to evaluate and compare texts.  It also develops key professional skills: the ability to read texts and situations analytically; the capacity to reflect upon what one has read; and the ability to communicate one’s point of view convincingly through writing. Numbers continue to grow in this subject, which is taught in two sets. The programme of study ranges beyond the requirements of the course with an extra-curricular Literary Society, a book group and a range of guest speakers visiting across the course. There are also a range of external lectures that are designed to stretch and broaden the students’ literary breadth and knowledge.

English Literature is one of the most popular degree choices in British universities.  It has diversified considerably in recent years.  Universities now offer specialised programmes such as English and American Studies, English and Cultural Studies, English and Critical Theory, or English and Film Studies.  English Literature graduates are employed in a wide range of professions, including business, law, marketing and the media.