"Language is words. It's bridges, so that you can get safely from one place to another. And the more bridges you know about, the more places you can see!" 'Roots' - Arnold Wesker

Studying English Language and English Literature at Tollbar encourages students to develop the skills, knowledge and communication abilities necessary to succeed in the modern world. An encouraging and supportive learning environment ensures our students achieve their full potential in the study of these vital and exciting subjects.

Please explore these pages to find out more about what we offer.

Ethos & Values

Our aims are:

  • To enhance children's quality of learning through the effective delivery of the English curriculum, in a way which is lively and thought-provoking, enabling students to develop their own opinions positively.
  • To make English enjoyable as a subject through resources and specialist teaching expertise. Students are encouraged to maximize their full potential in the three areas of language development: reading, writing, and speaking and listening.
  • To ensure that learners build confidence, feel valued, motivated and informed about their own progress and are proactively involved in reviewing and evaluating their individual achievements.
  • To have consistently high expectations and match these with high quality resources and learning strategies.
  • To provide a range of learning experiences appropriate to the age, ability and needs of the students. Students are encouraged to actively participate in class lessons, developing the ability to communicate effectively, accurately and with confidence, both orally and in writing, in a variety of styles and situations.
  • To support the English Curriculum and student's progress through the development of independent learning at home.

Knowledge & Skills

  • Students will improve oral, reading and writing skills, experiencing a wide range of learning styles from specialist teachers.
  • Focusing on the rudiments of Speaking and Listening will enable students to become confident, articulate and coherent speakers. Students will become adept at speaking in a range of different situations and for different audiences. All students are encouraged to express personal and informed opinions through discussion, presentations, role-play and improvisation.
  • Students will develop their ability to read for different purposes - for information, research, cultural study and personal enjoyment.
  • Students will improve their abilities in the written mode so they are able to write for a wide variety of different audiences and contexts. The need for accuracy in spelling, punctuation, grammar and paragraphing is emphasised and the opportunity for honing these vital components is littered throughout our comprehensive Schemes of Work.
  • There is scope for students' personal growth as learners, through active participation in class lessons and homework.

Resources & Facilities

  • All lessons are taught in specialist rooms, most of which are equipped with Interactive Whiteboard. Video and audio recording of students' presentations is encouraged to aid self and peer-assessment.
  • Contemporary and classic literature is used to support lessons. All works are tailored to individual classes by teachers. The English Curriculum Area has access to an extensive range of literary resources across all Key Stages.
  • An English Curriculum Area computer suite can be booked for lessons that require students to access the internet or produce work electronically.
  • A sixth Form Library and Study Area is available providing access to texts suitable for study at Advanced Level.
  • We work closely with Learning Support and utilise the provision of the mentoring rooms where necessary and beneficial for individual students.

Courses & Qualifications

Key Stage 3:

Students follow the National Curriculum in English, which provides a broad and balanced programme of language work. All students have the opportunity to analyse poetry, prose texts and works from different cultures, to participate in play-reading and to enhance all aspects of speaking, listening, reading and writing throughout Years 7 and 8.

Year 7

Over the course of Year 7, students will read a range of exciting and challenging materials as they cover different Schemes of Work. Adventure and Growing Up are taught through the use of targeted class readers; students will learn about gothic and horror writing conventions through Things That Go Bump; a class specific play will be studied for character, plot and language; students become reacquainted with Shakespeare through the study of a range of sonnets and his famous comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream and then they will end the year studying a variety of texts within the topic of Heroes and Villains.

Year 8

The year is split into five Schemes of Work. In the topic of War, students will study a class reader as well as look at poetry from a variety of conflicts; the writer's craft is the focus of the class reader led Character and Voice; the poetry and texts read in Exploring Other Cultures expands on knowledge of the wider world and literary rich heritages; What The Dickens allows students to view Victorian society through the writing of Charles Dickens and Media is designed as unit to engage students with current affairs.

Key Stage 4:

Starting in Year 9, GCSE English prepares students will the skills necessary to access all forms of reading and writing once they have left school, whether they enter the world of work, apprenticeships or to continue their studies. Reading skills are developed through the study of a range of texts, while writing skills encourage students to be inventive with language and explore the function of vocabulary for effect. Students are taught to consider how form, audience and purpose are important in the language choices they make. Specialist staff select texts according to the ability and make-up of their class and regular assessment informs students of their progress and areas for improvement. Additionally, students are assessed in 'Speaking and Listening', communication skills that are essential to all areas of modern life.


GCSE; examination in 2016, Students are prepared for the AQA English GCSE, which combines Language and Literature. Unit 1 examination is a 2 hour and 15 minute assessment of reading writing, which will involve students reading three texts and responding to a range of questions to them followed by the completion of two writing tasks. This is worth 60% of the final GCE grade, awarded as A*-G. Unit 2 is an assessment of speaking and listening skills. Although results from this unit do not contribute to the overall GCSE result, students will be awarded a separate grade for their abilities, from 1 – 5, 5 bring the highest. Unit 3 is made up of five pieces of controlled assessment and is worth 40% of the final GCSE grade.

GCSE from 2017

AQA English Language: this GCSE consists of two examinations, each being 1 hour and 45 minutes long. Across the two equally weighted papers, students will answer reading assessment questions on texts from the 19th, 20th and 21 century, followed by answering one writing task on each paper.

AQA English Literature: Paper 1 assesses understanding of a Shakespeare text and a text from the 19th century, chosen from a list prescribed by AQA. At 1 hour and 45 minutes long, it is worth 40% of the final grade. Paper 2 is 2 hours and 15 minutes and consists of four questions based on a modern text, an anthology of poetry and an unseen poem.

Key Stage 5:

Students entering the Sixth Form in September 2015 will be prepared for the new AQA AS and A Level English Language and Literature award. Students in Year 13 will continue on the AQA English Language and English Literature Combined AS and A2 course.


A2: examination summer 2016, Students will need to explore a range of unseen literature texts, including a piece of spontaneous speech alongside literary and non-fiction writing. They will also study four sections of writing from women's journalism in the last 100 years from the anthology Cupcakes and Kalashnikovs. In an examination lasting 2 hours and 15 minutes, students will first compare three unseen texts for a given focus, analysing the language, content and structure among other elements. They will then recast a given passage from any one of the texts studies in Cupcakes, before finally writing a commentary on their own work from the recast.

A Level: teaching from September 2015, Students are taught the necessary skills and terminology required for the examinations through a variety of different topics and texts. They will study plays such as A Streetcar Named Desire, read classic literature including The Great Gatsby and The Handmaid's Tale, analyse poetry and explore other text types in AQA's anthology Paris. The A Level award consists of two examinations, of 2 hours 30 minutes and 3 hours, where students will undertake further analysis of the texts above at a higher level and produce a creative written response with a commentary on their work. Further to this there is an independent investigation, leading to a 2500-3000 word essay on a literary topic of students' own choice.

Learning Outside The Classroom

The English Curriculum Area offers a range of activities to enhance learning in the classroom and also


Tollbar takes part in the BBC's annual 'Newsday', a national event where students are able to work independently as local journalists in a professional manner, collating and producing news reports on local events and working to a deadline. Students' reports are broadcast nationally on the BBC website.

Key Stage 3 Book Club

Meeting at lunch once a week, students share their love of reading. They talk about books they enjoy and would recommend, reading extracts to each other and producing fun ways to develop their favourite texts through activities such as quizzes, creating games based on books and characters and writing short stories. Students also have the chance to participate in the Carnegie Medal Award group, reading and writing about books shortlisted for the prestigious award.

Key Stage 4 Writers' Craft

A group for students with an interest in creative writing. Identifying and developing creative writing skills and strategies – through modelling of effective skills, students learn to choose and utilise varied techniques to become effective readers, writers, and oral communicators.

Additional Activities:

The English Curriculum Area partakes in a variety of appropriate theatre visits, alongside excursions designed to develop understanding of texts studied. Touring theatre companies are also used to enhance students' dramatic experiences. We also run regular competitions that give students the chance to see their work published.

Where Does This Take Me In The Future?

As English underpins all other subjects in the curriculum, it plays a major role in preparing students for both academia and working life.

  • Provides opportunities for students who may wish to be employed in all areas of Business.
  • Provides a good progression route to more advanced qualifications, particularly in the Humanities areas.
  • The study of English improves students' abilities to express their ideas clearly, coherently and confidently in both speaking and writing, and to communicate effectively in all areas of adult life.

Thinking Of Becoming A Teacher?

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Tollbar Academy Principal

Stephen Moon

Tollbar MAT Chief Executive

David J Hampson