The English Department at Monmouth School for Girls aims to deliver a lively and pertinent curriculum created with the 21st century student in mind. 

Skills acquired through English can help us access a world of knowledge and experience and promoting a lifelong love of reading and literature is a priority.  We have a wealth of resources and our classrooms are equipped with interactive whiteboards allowing students access to a variety of teaching and learning platforms.

Educational trips and visits play an important part in the English curriculum; we have taken students on residential trips to Ypres and London, we regularly attend a variety of theatrical performances, visit media and news organisations such as HTV Wales and attend university lectures aimed at challenging every student.

English curriculum

Years 7-9

In Years 7-9 pupils engage in a variety of learning activities designed to increase and hone their skills in Writing, Reading and Speaking and Listening. We shadow the National Curriculum but have the flexibility to create exciting and personalised learning pathways. There are many opportunities for developing learning styles and we enjoy several cross-curricular projects encompassing subjects as diverse as Design and Technology, Physics and Home Economics.

At Key Stage 3, students will focus upon a different topic each half-term; they will study novels, drama (including Shakespeare), and poetry, non-fiction and media texts. Within each unit there will be specific assessment objectives and courses are structured around common assignments that allow monitoring of progress. We also place reading at the heart of the curriculum through our Reading Awards program which encourages and challenges readers of every ability to embrace a lifelong love of reading for pleasure and productivity.


Our results have been very strong over the last 5 years with A* – B grades in Language and Literature GCSEs averaging 90%. In both English Language and Literature IGCSEs we have achieved an exceptional 51% A* grades.

GCSE English Language Specification for first teaching in 2015 (aqa.org.uk)

and here for Literature:

GCSE English Literature Specification for first teaching in 2015 2015 (aqa.org.uk)

English Literature A level
Why study English Literature?

At A level we offer a qualification in English Literature. This is an exciting course designed to broaden your experience of literature and prepare you for study at university level. It is a rigorous and well respected A level subject and carries much weight in your university applications. Studying English will hone your analytical skills, improve your higher level communication skills and broaden your understanding of the human condition. The OCR A level in English Literature allows learners to undertake independent and sustained studies to deepen their appreciation and understanding of literature, including its changing traditions. Students will study classic literature in the shape of Shakespeare or John Milton’s poetry as well as 20th and 21st century texts such as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, F Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ or Lionel Shriver’s ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’. There are opportunities to select texts which particularly interest you as part of your coursework unit and you will study themed topics such as The Gothic Tradition; Dystopian Fiction or American Literature for your comparative study.

Class sizes are smaller, co-educational and more intimate in the Sixth Form and this is an advantage in English A level. You will find yourself discussing a wide variety of texts, issues and themes. Sharing your opinions and responding to those of others is an integral and rewarding part of the course.

A love of reading is a necessary requirement of this course! In order to fully appreciate English A level you need to have an interest in literature of all genres.  Regular essay assignments on the chosen set texts are a key part of your assessment.

An understanding of the cultural, historical and social contexts in which a text is written is important at A level.  Researching and presenting contextual information is a vital aspect of your studies.  The department organises theatre trips, lectures and visiting speakers.

Head of Department: Mrs Z Harvey

Course content

Board: OCR   A level Syllabus Code: H472

The A level examination consists of two examination papers and one coursework folder consisting of two assignments, one of which is on linked texts. You will be studying a mixture of pre- and post-20th Century texts.

Method of assessment

Component 1: Shakespeare & Poetry and Drama pre-1900.
2.5 hrs. 60 marks 40%

A closed text exam on one Shakespeare play, one pre-1900 drama text and one pre-1900 poetry text.  Candidates will be assessed on their knowledge and understanding of the texts, their ability to establish connections between the poetry and drama texts, while also exploring the influence of contexts and different interpretations across time.

Component 2: Comparative & Contextual Study.
2.5 hrs. 60 marks 40%

A closed text exam on two texts from a topic area. Candidates will be assessed on their close reading skills, analysis of language, understanding of relevant contexts and their ability to establish connections between the texts.

Component 3: Literature post-1900.
Coursework 3000 words 40 marks 20%

Candidates will be required to study three literary texts in three different genres (prose, drama and poetry) and complete two assignments, focusing on close textual analysis, literary critical concepts and comparisons between texts.


We put reading at the heart of what we do and have a rich and varied program of visiting authors. This has recently included Owen Sheers, CJ Daugherty, Celia Rees, Marcus Sedgewick and performance poet Andrew Fusek Peters. The department were also instrumental in the setting up of the inaugural Monmouth Literary Festival, aimed at and run by local students from all three secondary schools in Monmouth.  We are a keen debating and public speaking school with students entering local, national and international competitions such as Rotary Youthspeak, English Speaking Union, British Parliamentary Women and The European Youth Parliament, where we have gained places in the finals for two years running. Creative writing is a strong feature here and we are lucky enough to have creative writing club run by our very own published poet, Mr Jonathan Edwards. Jonathan has recently published his anthology ‘My Family and Other Superheroes’ to much acclaim, including being shortlisted for the esteemed Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection prize. He has also won first prize in the internationally known Ledbury Poetry Festival.

As a girls’ school we are enthusiastic about promoting women’s issues and run a weekly ‘Women’s Forum’ which allows students to debate and respond to topical issues of the day affecting girls. Recent topics have included Global Education for Girls, Body Image and the Media and Why Do We Need Feminism?