English Department @ BHS

HOD:Michael Rafferty

English is the most widely used language in the world. It is a tongue which traces its origins back to Medieval England, and since then it has produced some wondrous works of literature. The English department wants to help our students to develop the vital communication skills necessary to grow as a reader, a writer and as an individual.

Language skills will be developed through the medium of literature. There has been no higher expression of the English language than the creative endeavours of global and local writers. It is through studying these icons of literature that our student's skills and knowledge grow strong. 

Key Stage 3

At Key Stage Three level, we target the core skills required to communicate effectively in English. The first skill is reading. It is through reading that vocabulary is built and grammar rules internalised. The students are then schooled in writing. This is where they apply their developing skills in a creative fashion and they begin to assert their individual voice and style. Finally, the often ignored but inherently vital aspect of any language; listening. Our students are trained to listen to how others communicate in English in order to formulate articulate responses.
These skills are cultiviated using a variety of texts. We have the classics such as the immortalised works of Shakespeare to the modern satirical antics of the Simpsons. Legendary word smiths such as Seamus Heaney will be contrasted with modern fiction such as the Hunger Games. Other styles such as politcal speech and podcasting will also be given their due coverage.

We recognise that the world of literature has changed with the emergence of new media. We have been swift to adapt to the digital revolution. We routinely use Kindles, film, interactive websites and the Accelerated Reader programmed in our lessons to ensure that students understand the media which is now a vital part of daily communication. We do however, ensure they are schooled in the use of paper based learning in order to stimulate all of their skills and to meet all of their needs.



English Language

When it comes to Key Stage 4, all students are required to study GCSE English Language which follows a curriculum laid out by CCEA which must be complied with. This course continues to develop the skills attained throughout Key Stage Three. Assessments are conducted by testing the student's ability to read and respond to both literary and non-fiction texts in a multi-modal format. 

In order to attain a minimum of a C grade, there are two tiers in which students can enter. Their abilities will be assessed using a set of two examinations with a net worth of 40% and a number of controlled assessments worth 60% which are conducted throughout years 11 and 12.
For more information please refer to: http://www.rewardinglearning.org.uk/microsites/english_language/gcse/specification/index.asp.

English Literature

For each year group, there will be a class devoted to the study of GCSE English Literature. This is a suplementary course to their routine study of the English Language, however it will have a profound focus on the literary text, for more information please visit:http://www.rewardinglearning.org.uk/microsites/english_literature/revised_gcse/specification/index.asp

Throughout this course, all students will study five predetermined texts. They will analyse and respond to the style and content of these literary works in order to sharpen their skills for two examinations with a net worth of 75% and a controlled assessment weighing in at 25%. The addition of these will result in a final grade being achieved. The texts which are to be studied cover a large number of genres from poetry, to prose and to writing for the theatre. The authors come from Ireland, England, American and the Commonwealth of Nations. This includes Shakespeare, Steinbeck and Heaney,

A Level

When it comes to Post 16 education, the English department follows the Edexcel specification. For more information please follow this link:http://www.edexcel.com/quals/gce/gce08/english/lit/Pages/default.aspx This course uses the skills learned at GCSE as the foundation for an advanced understanding of English literature and its historical tradition. This will involve analysing both classical and contemporary texts with an articulate critical eye.

Throughout the two years of the course, students will be required to study a total of 12 different texts. At this stage, they are openly encouraged to engage in their own research, espeically when it comes to the units composed of coursework. The coursework section is worth a total of 40% in AS and in A2. It is worthwhile to note that the texts studied varies as the years go by but our current line up includes Shakespeare's Romeo and Julliet as well as Othello, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Translations by Brian Friel, The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini and a number of poems themed on work and on war.


Drama is like the practical arm of English, and in its own rite can stand as a unique subject. During Key Stage Three all drama lessons are conducted within the English classes whilst at GCSE and A level, they are offered seperately via our partnership with Cross and Passion College. 

When it comes to English and Drama, we are proud to be able to offer a number of extra curricular activities:

•   Bi-annual school production

•   Public speaking

•   Sponsored reading events

•   Theatre trips

•   Creative writing competitions

•   School book club


Ballycastle High School
33 Rathlin Rd
BT54 6LD


P: (028) 2076 2254


Where Are We?