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Developing a lifelong passion for language and a sound understanding of its ability to be used effectively in spoken and written form.

The English Department develops pupils’ understanding of language, while feeding their enthusiasm for English language and literature.

Pupils read and understand the written language in a range of different forms, developing an in-depth appreciation of the writer’s craft, not only by closely studying literary texts, but also through active engagement and enjoyment of more transactional texts such as newspaper articles, documentaries and blogs.

Candidates write in many different forms as part of the English course, with their written style evolving and the accuracy of their written expression maturing over time. They are also given opportunities to develop their speaking skills, both individually and in group discussion.

Our Debating Society is one of the most popular extra-curricular clubs on offer at our Senior School, with numerous pupils having achieved success in national debating and public speaking competitions in recent years.

During their early years in the Senior School, from Transitus through to Second Year, pupils learn the foundations that ensure success at National 5 and Higher level, with a focus on understanding language, and growing confidence in both written and spoken English. Pupils progress to National 5 level and, in most cases, will then sit Higher English. Those with a particular passion for the subject can choose to sit Advanced Higher English in Sixth Year.

All pupils are presented for National 5 English, which builds on the skills developed through Transitus to Second Year and continues to inspire interest in literature and language in all forms, as well as laying the foundations for the Higher course. At this stage pupils are taught in ability sets, allowing for an increased focus for those in need of further support.

Reading and listening skills are developed over the two year course, with candidates expected to be able to show an appreciation of a variety of forms of text, analyse ideas and illustrate points effectively, convey thoughtful personal responses to texts and demonstrate an awareness of techniques through clear analysis and the use of appropriate critical terms.

Pupils work collaboratively on their talking and listening skills, gaining confidence to be able to speak fluently to audiences, expressing ideas of quality, relevance and interest.

Assessment at the end of Fourth Year comes via a written examination and folio work in the form of written discursive and creative pieces.

Higher English follows a structure similar to that of the National 5 course, as pupils continue to build on the skills developed throughout the preceding years. Seven periods of English per week are allocated, during which pupils continue to work on their reading, writing, talking and listening skills. Higher English acts as a vital qualification for those wishing to go on to study a significant number of courses at college or university level.

Candidates' communicative skills are internally assessed during the session in the course of normal classroom activities, while written skills are assessed externally through discursive and creative pieces, written and redrafted before submission, as part of pupils' final course assessment.

Reading skills are assessed in a timed examination, with pupils being tested on their ability to answer questions on an unseen passage and to produce written responses to two texts previously studied in class.


The Advanced Higher course was revised in 2015/16 as part of the development of the Curriculum for Excellence and extends on the learning outcomes of Higher English. By the end of the course, Sixth Year pupils should be able to write a critical essay on texts studied in class which communicates a highly advanced level of understanding and appreciation. Students will be encouraged to develop a broad reading experience outwith the classroom.

Those choosing to study English at this level require a significant commitment, with an initial ten periods a week dedicated to the study of two different genres of literature for the 'Analysis and Evaluation' unit and to the study of a range of creative writing styles and techniques for the 'Creation and Production' unit.

Later in the course, candidates will begin to work towards a dissertation on one or more texts studied independently, showing an advanced awareness of how language can be used in different genres through analysis of previously unseen texts and their own creative writing abilities. This goes towards candidates' final assessment as part of a folio that also includes two pieces of externally assessed creative writing, making up a significant portion of their final grade.

Advanced Higher pupils are encouraged and expected to develop a broad reading experience outwith the classroom. From preparing papers on the work of acclaimed authors, delivering their findings to peers and collaborating in creative writing workshops, to enjoying lectures from writers and visiting culturally important locations such as London's historic Globe Theatre, our candidates truly delve deep into the subject.

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