at Cockermouth School


The central educational aims of the English department are to foster linguistic competence, individual growth and enrichment through a wide and varied curriculum. Accordingly, teaching in the department is innovative and designed to stimulate and enthuse students. Effective teaching of functional skills is allied with creative work, often in groups, and imaginative, creative exploration of language and ideas. In this way we aim to develop students’ proficiency in the four core areas of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening required for achieving good grades at GCSE in both Language and Literature. These core competencies are of course also essential to many aspects of life in the wider community.

Through the approaches outlined above, English encourages students to develop and mature as individuals; exposure to literature and the acquisition of high standards of functional language skills help our students to thrive in society both at school and in their lives beyond compulsory education.

Underpinning all of the above is a belief in the power of English to enrich and widen students’ lives by providing a rich and varied experience of plays, novels, poetry and films. Additionally, public speaking, debates and discussions, visits from authors and theatre trips add to the eclectic nature of the English experience.

Key Stage 3

The English programme of study for Key Stage 3 has been completely revised in light of recent changes to the National Curriculum and to ensure we effectively prepare students for the new courses introduced at GCSE and beyond. Whilst the programme of study is tightly mapped to the National Curriculum and builds on the work undertaken in primary school, each unit of work is designed to engage and challenge the students, equipping them with the skills they require for success across the whole curriculum at Key Stages 4 and 5. Key Stage 3 students study a different unit of work each half term, based around a theme or a genre, which gives them exposure to a wide range of literary and non-fiction texts. Units are designed to consolidate and extend each student's learning.

Students attend seven lessons a fortnight in Year 7, which include dedicated time for Accelerated Reader programme, designed to swiftly raise each child's reading age. In Years 8 and 9 students attend six hour long lessons every two weeks. Whilst our key aim throughout Key Stage 3 is to develop able readers, fluent writers, fostering enthusiasm and critical appreciation of literary and non-fiction texts and developing each student's ability to communicate confidently and effectively remains at the heart of the curriculum.

English is a successful subject at Cockermouth, the department being staffed by a dedicated team of fourteen skilled, very well qualified and enthusiastic subject specialists. The department prides itself on its cohesive and supportive environment; we are a proficient and dedicated team.

Occupying ten rooms on the second floor of the main building, the English department is well-resourced as, through capitation and special allocations, we have been able to build up our stock of books, as well as digital cameras, smart boards and webcams along with additional resources to stimulate and engage pupils involvement in lessons.                                                                    

Key Stage 4

English is studied by all students at Key Stage 4 with high rates of success. From September 2015, we will be offering AQA courses in English Language and Literature plus a Step up to English qualification for those who it is appropriate. The majority of our students study both Language and Literature in eight lessons across a fortnightly timetable. The curriculum is devised so pupils develop skills during Key Stage 3 that enables them to embark upon their GCSE studies from a strong standpoint. Those skills include inference and deduction, analysis and evaluation plus the ability to communicate clearly and accurately, alongside many others.

Key Stage 5

A Level English is a very popular subject at Cockermouth, three courses will be on offer from September 2015: English Language (AQA), English Literature (Edexcel) and a combined English Language and Literature course (AQA). All three courses provide a solid foundation upon which to pursue further study in a range of disciplines at degree level such as Law, Journalism and Teaching.

The subject is taught during ten lessons over a fortnightly timetable and is staffed by two subject specialists. Each course also has a designated subject leader within the department whose role it is to monitor students’ progress and arrange support and intervention, where required, in order to ensure each student achieves their full potential.

Outside the Classroom

Opportunities for enrichment are at the heart of the department’s ethos, we organise a wide range of activities for students at all key stages. Activities include theatre trips, screenings of live theatre performances, writing workshops from visiting authors, entrance to national competitions such as Poetry By Heart plus regional ones, the Cumbria Young Writers Award. We also offer a wide range of clubs including; Classics Club, the lower school debating society and Readicts book group, to name a few. Our students are creative and enthusiastic and participate well in the range of activities on offer, often achieving commendable success. Last year we saw two of our sixth form students win first and second prize in the Cumbria Young Writers Award. They then participated in the Words by the Water festival where their work was presented by actors and they were presented their awards by Melvyn Bragg.