Whitgift School
Whitgift School Whitgift School

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English, with its combination of technical and creative elements, sits at the core of the curriculum.  We aim to ensure that all boys in the School get a rich experience of the subject, and all it has to offer.


The English Department aims to equip our students with the skills needed to speak confidently and fluently, and to write with accuracy and sophistication; we aspire to instil in students a lasting enthusiasm for literature.


In the Lower School, we follow our own syllabus. Students are introduced to a wide range of both classic and modern literature, and are taught how to speak and write fluently, accurately and engagingly.

In the Fifth Form, pupils are prepared for the IGCSE (Edexcel) in English and English Literature.

Many Sixth Formers choose English either at A Level (OCR board), or as part of their IB Diploma.

Teaching Methods

One of the pleasures of the subject is its variety, and this is reflected in our teaching methods.  Boys will learn to write with conviction and accuracy, in a traditional manner, but will also learn to speak and present using modern tools and techniques.  We expect our pupils to be active in lessons, and, accordingly, we make personal exploration and discovery of texts, individually and in groups, central to our approach.

Schemes of Work

The Department follows its own syllabus in the Lower School, and teachers write individual, tailored schemes of work to suit texts and classes, ensuring that they cover the requirements of the syllabus over the year. 

Special Achievements

We have a particularly active co-curricular programme, designed to stimulate an interest and love of literature, creative writing, drama and journalism.  In 2012, we inaugurated two new prizes for poetry, and published an anthology of work from pupils across the School.  This is one of a number of publications and competitions that we run, as well as encouraging boys to come to one of the four weekly societies that we organise.  Another annual highlight is the Lower Third Shakespeare Evening. Every boy in the year will take part in a performance of a Shakespeare play with the rest of his class; nine performances in a single evening, across two venues, with a combined cast of 200, must be one of the largest scale productions of Shakespeare occurring - anywhere!


We run an extensive programme of theatre trips to the best London plays for our Sixth Form boys, as well as a smaller number annually for younger boys.  We will normally make trips to approximately 18 plays a year. In 2012, we began taking what is now an annual trip to the Hay on Wye Literary Festival for First Form boys, and they will this year be joined by a group of Sixth Formers.  Earlier on in the year, we take the whole Lower Third to the Globe, providing them with a sense of the world of Shakespeare’s drama.

University Successes

A healthy number of boys regularly go on to top universities to read English, and we run an extensive Oxbridge preparation programme, open to boys applying to either university.

Visiting Speakers

In conjunction with the Raeburn and Junior libraries, we regularly have writers in for a day, typically offering workshops for classes, and giving readings or visiting our English societies at lunchtime.  Authors who have visited recently include Derek Walcott, Patrick Ryan, Val Bloom and Alex Wheatle.  Similarly, every year, we invite a distinguished academic in the field of Shakespearean studies to deliver the Dover Wilson Lecture to the Sixth Form.  As well as visiting speakers, we regularly host a poet in residence to work with boys over a more sustained period.

  • Upper Third pupils rehearse for an evening to celebrate the work of Shakespeare
  • Upper Third pupils rehearse for an evening to celebrate the work of Shakespeare

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