'I can do all things with the help of God who strengthens me.' Philippians (4:13)

Catholicism in English


Thought for the Month: June


“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!" (Luke, 1:42)

English Focus: Mary’s love through female characters

This month, we have focused our thoughts on Mary, one of the most significant individuals in the Catholic faith and a woman who shows us time and time again some of the most important catholic values. We have explored the different qualities Mary presents through her words and actions, and extended these thoughts to consider which female characters remind us of Mary, and what they have done in stories we love to show the same knowledge, compassion and bravery.

We started by exploring the moment when Angel Gabriel visits Mary to explain that she will bear the son of God, where she showed devotion to her Lord and bravery against the unknown. We saw similar qualities in Hermione, an iconic female protagonist who remained brave in the face of prejudice and devoted to learning. Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games also reminded us of Mary’s bravery, in working hard to rebel against evil forces and liberate those who are oppressed. Coraline and Alice in Wonderland, are also both fearless female characters who do not let the dangers of the unknown scare them, remaining devoted to their purposes just as Mary shows devotion to God.

We then discussed when Mary, Joseph and Jesus went to Jerusalem for the pass-over feast, but Jesus stayed behind at the temple and was not found for three days. Mary showed resilience and true motherly love, when she would not relent in searching for him, placing the needs of her son above her own. We saw her likeness in the character of Joyce from Stranger Things, another mother who relentlessly searches for her child when no others will help. We were also reminded of characters from children’s stories and shows, such as Mrs Frizzle from the Magic School Bus and even David Walliams’s Gangster Granny. Both these characters care for children and are compassionate in showing them what the world can offer whilst doing their best to protect them. Gangster Granny even shows love and resilience through facing illness

Finally, we explored the moment where Jesus performed his first miracle, and how Mary showed knowledge and guidance to her son at this crucial moment. Though Jesus was unsure about performing a miracle, Mary knew that this was a crucial moment for him, and guided him to fulfil his destiny. Sally Jackson from the Percy Jackson series reflects this sentiment when she uses the head of Medusa to repel enemies and save her son. Tanith Low from Skulduggery Pleasant and Sam from Magnus Chase also spend their time teaching others, guiding them towards their destinies and true paths within the bigger picture. We also discussed how many Disney characters such as Moana’s grandmother, Bow Peep and Merida also take the audience on journeys of knowledge and guidance, sometimes acting as the teacher, and sometimes as the one to teach through lived experience.

When we really thought about it, we realised that Mary’s likeness can be found in many places. For generations past, her actions and her place within the bible have influenced us all to show bravery, devotion, love and resilience, so we can become knowledge and guide others too. So now we ask- can you see Mary’s likeness in your favourite stories?



Our English department believes in fostering a love of literature through innovative, engaging teaching. We demand a high standard of work and behaviour from all our pupils, but believe in reward they will achieve outstanding results which will enable them to fulfill their potential both in higher education and their careers.

Our lessons are designed to encourage our learners through discussion, the teaching of engaging texts which stimulate interest and the developing of pupil’s vocabulary and ability to express themselves in a variety of forms and for a variety of purposes. We explore poetry, contemporary and classic literature and also link to our sister subjects of Media and Film Studies through a wide-ranging curriculum at KS3 which celebrates diversity and increases a pupils knowledge and appreciation of the fact that every life matters. We encourage pupil’s creativity and independence, allowing them to become more resilient learners in preparation for the rigour of KS4.

Head of Department Joe Were is the only Specialist Leader of Education for Secondary English in the city and has worked with schools across the Portsmouth area to raise attainment. He also co-chairs the Portsmouth Teaching School Alliance Secondary PEN Meetings and believes that every child the department have the pleasure of teaching learns to love literature through the dynamic and engaging lessons that the English department deliver everyday.

Within English we use a variety of Assessment for Learning strategies to empower our pupils and ensure accelerated progress is made. Two of the most effective are half time targets and 'feeding forwards'.

Half time targets allow pupils to stop mid-way through a task and reflect on what they need to do in order to improve. This can either be self or peer assessed, and involves pupils using the lesson's WILFs to produce a SMART target that is then re-assessed when the task is finished. Reflecting on a task at the mid-point means that our pupils in English are constantly reflecting on what they need to do in order to progress.

Feeding forward allows pupils to re-draft prior work and rectify any caveats that may have arisen. Pupils re-write one paragraph from previous work, implementing feedback from their teacher to improve it. This means as teachers we know that our feedback will be taken on board, and that the pupils will show this in their work instantly, accelerating progress and meaning similar errors will not occur again.



Our curriculum is designed to not only foster a love of reading and allow pupils to make cross-curricular links to improve their cultural capital but to also build the skills needed to be successful at not only GCSE and further education but also the wider world. English is a key tool in pupils being able to fulfil their aspirations and we encourage pupils to explore a diverse range of literature from across the last 500 years, giving them a wider insight into the human condition. The key skills of reading, writing and speaking and listening are woven through both KS3 and KS4, making links with other subjects and allowing pupils to make outstanding progress within our subject.
18/19  (APS 4.96) 


4+  83 %               5+  61 %             7+ 17.1 % 

ENGLISH LITERATURE (Sat early entry in 2018) 

4+  84  %            5+ 60 %               7+ 15.1 % 

19/20 (Exam & CAGS)  (APS 5.38) 


4+  91 %                5+  67 %             7+ 26 % 

ENGLISH LITERATURE (Sat early entry in 2019) 

4+  79  %              5+    61  %          7+ 27 % 

20/21 (TAGS)   (APS 5.21) 


4+  92  %               5+  84  %            7+ 41 % 


4+  86  %               5+   69  %            7+ 25 % 

The department has a proven record of pupils going on to further education to study English Literature and Language both at A Level and Degree. Nothing makes us prouder than when ex pupils get in touch to tell us how the teaching, support and enjoyment they received within the English department has set them on a clear path for their future aspirations. '

Careers in English

English is such an integral part of our day to day existence that we forget the multitude of career pathways it can open up. All KS3 pupils have a bespoke English -based Careers lesson during the summer term in which possible job opportuniies are discussed and examined. 

If you want to know more about careers in English, please contact English Career's Champion Mrs Chester-Davies on 

Cameron Jenkins, Buyers Assistant for Burtons/Boohoo (2016, Grade A (equivalent to Grade 7)) - 'Doing well in my English gave me the skills and confidence to communicate and express myself in my job. In my job English is vital when presenting to management, engaging in meetings, and communicating and negotiating with suppliers. '
Autumn Lily Valentine, Nursery Practitioner and Trainee Primary School Teacher (2015, Grade B (equivalent to Grade 6) - 'In my role as a trainee teacher I need to use English to make my pupils feel valued and special, as well as teach them literacy. Being able to communicate effectively is such a key skill that I would not have been able to utilise with my own education in English.'

Key Stage 3 (Year 7-9)

Our KS3 curriculum is designed to provide optimum creativity for both pupil and teacher – books taught are from a list that has been curated from our own love of literature rather than just two of three texts or those that are not being taught at KS4 (like some schools). Pupils develop an ability to read and write a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, building a repertoire of skills to ready them for the rigour of KS4. These include whole novels (rather than extracts), Shakespeare, 19th century Literature, Poetry, Articles, Pamphlets and other non-fiction texts as well as looking at more diverse approaches to English through multi-media and film. Our selection of texts champion the diversity that we have both within school and pupils’ wider social circles and improve their understanding of their place within the world and the experience of those from diverse backgrounds.

We encourage pupils to develop a more ambitious and sophisticated vocabulary and punctuation and use assessments which foreshadow the line of questioning they will encounter in KS4. The final KS3 assessment ascertains their ability in creative writing and comparing Power and Conflict Poetry, readying them for the more strenuous work of KS4.

Key Stage 4 (Year 10 & 11)

The English Language course in Yr 11 consists of two papers – Explorations in Creative Writing and Writing from Perspective.

Both papers consist of a Section A (answering four questions on sources provided) and a Section B (writing either creatively or about a particular perspective). These exams test pupil’s ability to infer, analyse structure and language, compare sources as well as their ability to write to different forms and audiences using a wide-ranging vocabulary and high level of spelling and grammatical accuracy.

Both these papers are weighted 50% in terms of the final GCSE grade.

This GCSE is taught through topic-based learning which covers a range of subjects that are pertinent to the experiences of society today such as Racism and Equality, Ethics of Science and Knife Crime.  Pupils are encouraged to look at fictional and non-fiction sources which explore, question and celebrate the experience of diverse people and how their lives have made an impact on the world that we know. This apporach builds cross curricular learning and strengthens pupils understanding of how the curriculum at St. Edmund's fits together to improve them as both a pupil and person.


All texts within the KS3 and KS4 curriculum overview with skills document under the 'Resources' section below are highlighted in blue to celebrate diversity and show pupils the importance of building a knowledge and understanding that every life matters.


Extra Curricular Activities
Within the English department we have a range of extra -curricular activities which encourage pupils love of learning. We offer the usual mix of theatre trips and visits to local authors, but in addition pupils have the opportunity to take part in KS3 Spelling Bee, in which every pupil in Years 7,8 and 9 battle it out to be crowned their year group's best speller, and the Catenian Speaking and Listening Award. This is performed in conjunction with our local diocese and allows pupils to develop their leadership and speaking and listening skills through talking about topical subjects. This is supplemented by our Catholicism in English club and the Debate Club, in which pupils of all ages are able to air their views on a range of matters.

KS4 Homework hand-in dates


W/B  14th Sept, 28th Sept, 12th Oct, Nov 2nd, Nov 16th, Nov 30th, Dec 14th.


The Eagle Newspaper

The Eagle is a publication where you can read about the latest trends, teachers' lives, student's lives and education. This newsletter has been revamped, meaning there are more exciting subjects covered. This is written by the pupils, for the pupils. This publication will let you speak your mind, so make sure if you have something to report, to come and notify our Eagle representatives. Our school is a family, so it is essential that all of us contribute to telling the rest of Portsmouth how great we are.


You can read the Eagle Newspaper and sign-up to recieve it every month by E-Mail by clicking here!


 English T&L Curriculum.pdfDownload
 Year 10 English Literature Mock Letter November 2020.pdfDownload
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Year 10 Homework

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Year 10 Revision Guides

 A Christmas Carol Revision Guide.pdfDownload
 Animal Farm Revision Sheet.pdfDownload
 Jane Eyre Guidance Sheet.pdfDownload
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Year 11 Homework

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Year 11 Revision Guides

 English Language Section A Scaffolds.pdfDownload
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