a picture of a teacher with students in class

Central to the department’s ethos is that reading and talking about what has been read are not only joyful things to spend time doing but are crucial tools in building the intellectual, social and moral life of the individual.

Interested people are interesting, thus, from the moment boys arrive in the school, we promote reading inside and outside the classroom.

Our Year 7, 8 and 9 curricula place a diverse range of texts from a wide variety of genres centrally to classroom practice, using these as the springboard for the writing, speaking and listening activities in which boys are engaged.

In addition, boys visit the Library once every half term as part of their English lessons. Alongside this, the Year 7 and 8 curricula feature a detailed programme of grammar teaching, whilst the Year 9 curriculum places increasing emphasis on the development of the formal essay writing skills so crucial to success at IGCSE.

In Year 10 and 11, boys follow the CIE IGCSE English Language and English Literature syllabuses, in which they cover both pre and post 20th century texts including the genres of poetry, prose and drama, as well as a range of non-fiction texts and writing styles.

As part of the IB Diploma, all boys continue to study English literature (or Literature and Performance) at either Standard or Higher Level. The curriculum presents both boys and teachers with an exciting opportunity to spread literary wings and enjoy a dazzling array of material that is assessed both orally and in writing.

There is a buzz around IB English (which is available at Higher and Standard Level) that extends to the discussions boys have in the corridors and common room. Every teacher delivers a bespoke course, designed to play to their strengths and interests whilst meeting the requirements of the syllabus. The result is lessons that combine academic rigour with the enthusiasm and energy born of genuine expertise and interest. Lessons are run as seminars in which boys are actively encouraged to lead discussion, bring independent reading and research to the table, and challenge ideas. 

IB Literature and Performance (which is available at Standard Level) is an interdisciplinary subject which combines studying the ways that literature works when performed on stage, and the different ways that texts can be transformed by the performance process. It provides an opportunity for careful and enthusiastic engagement with the detail of how writers express their ideas, helping to transform our understanding of ourselves and others, and with this understanding being enhanced further through performance.

Future careers

Those who pursue IB English at Higher Level and at university open up a whole world of further opportunities. The skills of analysis, research and critical thinking are highly valued in almost all graduate posts in business and even finance. Journalism, law, and education are just three examples of the professions which favour the English BA, and many English graduates go on to convert their qualification to law or even accountancy.

While several English graduates find their homes in academia, those who choose to leave academic study following their degree can be found within politics, public relations and marketing, the civil service and the media. English graduates have some of the widest range of opportunities open to them.

Beyond the classroom

The English department organises a range of trips to theatres, often including workshop activities for different year groups across the whole school. We offer a writers’ group, and a school newspaper, The Edwardian Herald, to develop journalism within the students.

We have a thriving debating society, which meets each week for friendlies, practice and external competitions, and we also run the Foundation Key Stage 3 Debating Competition, and the King Edward’s Primary School Debating Competition for schools across the Midlands.

There is a Literary Society to encourage higher level research and analysis, featuring talks from the students on areas of interest, and we also run the school’s Reading Week each year, in which boys participate and run many events to promote reading.

Meet the Head of Faculty

Mr Leigh

Mr Leigh read for a degree in English Literature at Trinity College, Cambridge. After graduating, he worked in financial PR and in the charity sector before turning to education. 

In his previous schools, Winchester College and Stonyhurst College, he has taught English, worked as a Head of PSHE, as a second in Department, as Master of Scholars, as a Head of Faculty, and as an Assistant Head overseeing a year-group. He has coached sports and debating. He enjoys the arts, sports, travel and dog-walking.

David Leigh at King Edward’s School, Birmingham on Wednesday 19 October 2022.

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