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City of London

School for girls

'To write or even speak English is not a science but an art. Whoever writes English is involved in a struggle that never lets up even for a sentence. He is struggling against vagueness, against the lure of the decorative adjective, against the encroachment of Latin and Greek, and, above all, against the worn-out phrases and dead metaphors with which the language is cluttered up.'
     - George Orwell

City has a high regard for the imagination and individuality of our pupils and places considerable emphasis on creative writing and oral and performative aspects of English. Our aim is to help our pupils access and understand texts as well as to develop their own writing and analytical skills.


In the classroom we make full use of the latest technology in our teaching and pupils are expected to be active in their learning. Debates, discussions, presentations, lectures, visiting speakers and trips to outside events that support the curriculum are all part of the daily life of the English department.



Both literary and non-literary material provides the basis for language study and serve as resources for developing writing, and speaking and listening skills. Girls learn to understand and use English accurately for practical purposes and to appreciate the variety and flexibility of English so that they are aware of the possibilities for creative and imaginative expression that it offers.

The practices and conventions of English usage are taught and attention is given to:

  • spelling, punctuation and presentation;
  • broadening vocabulary;
  • essay structure;
  • planning, drafting, improving and proof-reading work;
  • appropriate presentation for a range of purposes such as newspaper articles, reports, etc

All pupils read a wide range of literary texts, including Shakespearean plays, and pay specific attention to background, themes, characterisation, diction, imagery, symbolism and other effects such as the use of rhythm and rhyme. Pupils experiment with a variety of forms and styles such as letters, diaries, play scripts, autobiography, articles, book and theatre reviews, factual records and instructions.


Students at CLSG take the AQA GCSE qualifications and study English and English Literature simultaneously across the two year programme of study.


  • The course includes oral and written presentation of ideas and the study of several literary and non-fiction texts. There are opportunities for creative writing.

English Literature

  • Prose, poetry and drama are studied in depth alongside the consideration of historical, social and cultural context.

The AQA GCSE English Language and English Literature qualifications are assessed by examination at the end of the course - there is no coursework.


Students develop as confident, independent and reflective readers pursuing their interest in literary studies through reading widely, independently and critically. The course provides students with an introduction to the traditions of English Literature, enables them to express responses effectively through speech and writing, develops an awareness of the context in which texts are written and considers other readers’ interpretations of texts.

A Level students of English Literature are encouraged to:

  • Read widely.
  • Venture and discuss points of view, and respond to and respect opinions of others.
  • Write analytically and critically, developing a full personal response to previously unseen poems, as well as to set texts.
  • Study eight set texts in depth and study others as part of their wider reading.
  • Write about texts in the light of social, cultural and historical contexts in which they are written.
  • Form their own opinions of texts, taking due consideration of interpretations of others and considering how interpretations change over time.

Course Structure


Studied Texts



Component 1: Drama Othello A Streetcar Named Desire 2 hours 15 minutes
Component 2: Prose Tess of the D’Urbervilles Mrs Dalloway 1 hour
Component 3: Poetry Post-2000 specified poetry The Romantics 2 hours 15 minutes
One comparative extended
essay of 2500-3000 words
The Handmaid’s Tale Wide Sargasso Sea Teacher assessed,
externally moderated

All examined components in this qualification allow for clean copies of the texts to be brought into the examination.


GCSE:  AQA GCSE English and English Literature

A Level:  Edexcel


  • CLSG were the 2010 and 2014 World Champions in the Kids' Lit Quiz, an annual literature competition for children aged 10 to 13.  The competition has heats in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, USA, China, Hong Kong and Australia.
  • In October 2015, all Year 10 and Year 11 students attended a Study Day in Cambridge on either 'A View from A Bridge' or 'Pride and Prejudice' as part of their IGCSE studies. This was led by leading academics from Cambridge and was held in the prestigious Cambridge Debating Union.
  • Our Debating Clubs - Junior and Senior - continue to be active in various local and national competitions
  • Guest Speakers are a regular feature at CLSG
  • Literary Society and Book Groups run for all years
  • The School Magazine is produced annually by a senior team of students
  • Tutorials are offered to A Level students at The British Museum on William Blake using material from the archives not available to the public.

"I really like studying English Literature in Sixth Form. In Year 12 we have covered a wide range of texts and the syllabus is not as restrictive as IGCSE. I have enjoyed composing my own Creative Writing and the in-depth study of a classic novel, a modern play and twentieth century poetry, have challenged me. Discussion and debate in lessons brings the texts alive and my teachers are so passionate about their subject." Lucy

Head of Department: Mr B Ward