English has a pre-eminent place in education and society; it is a subject fundamental to personal and intellectual growth. The study of English ensures students become confident readers and writers. It also encourages students to think creatively, critically and independently so that they can articulate their ideas with clarity and confidence in a range of ways.

English at Teesdale School is an immersive experience, exposing students to classics such as Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ and Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’, to the more modern works of Willy Russell’s ‘Blood Brothers’ and the poetry of Maya Angelou.

Students will journey through the literary canon, beginning in Medieval England with Beowulf and Geoffrey Chaucer before travelling on to meet William Shakespeare’s tragic hero, ‘Macbeth.’ Pupils can meet brooding Romantic heroes like Wordsworth, Byron and Blake before arriving in the Victorian period for an encounter with Dickens’ reformed miser, Ebenezer Scrooge. The journey concludes in the modern era where they explore 1930s America and the unlikely friendship of George and Lennie in Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’, followed by the social inequality of Edwardian England with Priestley’s ‘An Inspector Calls’, as well as a range of poetry from diverse and exciting voices.

Students study a rich and challenging curriculum. From engaging with ideas from a wide variety of texts to opportunities for self-expression and creativity in both spoken and written contexts, studying English at Teesdale School nurtures self-expression and reflective thought. Throughout the key stages, students will encounter a range of literary genres and forms, ranging from Jacobean drama and courtly love poetry to a whole host of non-fiction diaries, essays, letters and autobiographies. We take a cross-curricular approach, encouraging students to think about the social, political and historical context alongside developing their own voice. As well as following the curriculum, students will be encouraged to read for pleasure, experiencing a diverse range of literature as a platform for exploring new ideas, developing critical thinking skills and learning more about the world around them. Students will be inspired by great thinkers such as activist Martin Luther King, environmentalist Greta Thunberg and suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.

English book open with love heart

Our ‘Keys to Success’ literacy programme ensures students learn the fundamental skills to help them progress not only in English but across the whole curriculum. Students enjoy English because it is varied, fast-paced and fun. Every student is inspired to believe in their potential and to aim high. They acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language. Throughout their academic career here, students develop the ability to write accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. We endeavour to ensure all students become competent orators, including: making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate. 

Browns big book bus

As well as local theatre trips and residential trips to London, where we visit the world-famous Globe, the English department hosts many extra-curricular clubs including Radio Drama Club, where students collaborate to create podcast-style media and Reading Club, which allows students to come together to discuss their favourite books, both of which are very popular with our students. Additionally, we regularly run sessions and enter students for Poetry By Heart, a national poetry recitation competition where everyone from our Year 7 students to VI Formers can take part and support one another in the process.

Our curriculum 






  • Introduction to the Canon – a timeline of British literary heritage
  • Moments that Changed the World – developing speech writing skills through the study of key historical events of the twentieth century
  • Gory Gothic Writing – Fiction writing inspired by Victorian Literature
  • Much Ado About Nothing – Shakespeare’s funniest play and feistiest heroine
  • Individual Voices Poetry – explore a range of poems from the Romantic era to the modern day
  • Victorian Britain – Delve into what life was like for the Victorians using non-fiction sources


  • Fear Factor – learn to write like a scientist, journalist or historian while discovering your deepest fears
  • Blood Brothers – travel back to 20th century Liverpool for Willy Russell’s tragic family saga
  • Macbeth – meet Shakespeare’s tragic hero
  • Of Mice and Men – appreciate the heart-warming friendship of George and Lennie in 1930s America
  • How Dare the Sun Rise – see through the eyes of a child in a warzone who builds a new life
  • Adventures Around the World – be inspired to write by literature from around the world


  • Animal Farm – George Orwell’s political allegory is a 20th century British classic
  • Diverse Voices – listen to the voices of contemporary poets and write your own dramatic monologue
  • Viewpoints – Letters Through Time, explore a range of non-fiction texts with a historical significance 
  • All the World’s a Stagediscover the joys of performance with The Importance of Being Earnest, Educating Rita and A Taste of Honey
  • Tragedy – meet the Greek chorus, tragic heroes and heroines, and explore the conventions of this epic genre
  • Say it Out Loud – embrace your inner orator by performing a passionate speech


  • Explorations in Creative Reading – experience the breadth and beauty of 20th century fiction
  • A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens’ tale of redemption and transformation
  • Romeo and Juliet – escape to Verona to travails of first love and feuding families
  • Writers’ Viewpoints and perspectives – compare and contrast the great thinkers of the Victorian era with modern journalism
  • Writing Masterclass – hone your writers’ craft and perfect your voice
  • Power and Conflict Poetry – read poetry across time and genre and explore the perennial questions


  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Power and Conflict and Unseen Poetry 
  • Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing  
  • An Inspector Calls – J.B. Priestley’s moral social polemic explores the vices of the Edwardian era
  • A Christmas Carol 
  • Non-fiction writing 
  • Writers’ Viewpoints and perspectives 


I really enjoy English because I love reading and writing stories and we get to do both!
Year 8 student
I love English because it allows me to expand my views and opinions on different pieces of literature
Year 11 student