• Block 3 (Year 9)
  • Blocks 4 and 5 (Years 10 and 11)
  • Sixth Form

Block 3 have two double periods of English each week in which they study a range of genres and forms of text as a way of honing and developing their own craft as critical, creative and persuasive writers. The course will primarily be taught through literary texts including poetry, prose and drama, through the study of which students amass a range of analytical skills needed for BAC Literature and IGCSE English.

English Language IGCSE

Work in English Language during Block 4 will continue to build around the detailed study of whole literary texts so that those not taking English Literature BAC are still exposed to some literary work. In Block 5 all students will take English Language IGCSE. 

There is one final exam in the Summer of Block 5. The exam is worth 60% and focuses on Non-fiction and Transactional Writing. The exam tests the understanding of reading material, and students’ ability to analyse, evaluate and compare. They will use an anthology of fiction and non-fiction texts provided by the exam board. Students also complete a folder of coursework worth 40% including one literature essay analysing texts and one creative piece.  

Written work is set fortnightly for prep and much of the time in class is spent in discussion, valuable in itself in developing critical and rational thinking, but also a continuous preparation for the oral part of the course, which is assessed internally. 

Examining board: Edexcel

English Literature BAC

The Bedales Assessed Course (BAC) in English Literature involves the detailed study of seven literary texts. These will be a mixture of modern texts and canonical ‘classics’ written before and after 1900.  It thereby provides a fuller preparation for AS and A level English Literature than any GCSE or IGCSE course currently available.  The writing of extensive analytical essays is a key element of the course and so is a good preparation for other A level subjects in which writing cogently structured essays is a central skill. Students will explore a range of texts: two or three novels – at least one written before 1900 and at least one written since, two or three plays – at least one written before 1900 (one by Shakespeare) and at least one written since, two poetry texts – one written before 1900 and one written since. Students may also study one text on the course in translation. Students can also respond creatively to one of their texts and we always endeavour to visit the theatre or invite outside speakers in to meet our students. The course is rich and varied and really does enable students to flourish as young critics and emerging adult readers.

A Level students at Bedales follow Edexcel’s English Literature course which we feel offers us the greatest breadth of prose, poetry and drama from across different time periods and genres. We also feel that this course maintains the ability for staff and students at Bedales to have a degree of choice in the texts studied that other boards were unable to match. Edexcel is a very well established board and we are very pleased to be teaching a course which can establish rigour whilst enabling a passion for literature to flourish in our students.

The subject is assessed through three terminal examinations at the end of the second year and a piece of comparative coursework work worth 20% of the final mark. The exams papers are divided into Drama, Prose and Poetry. Drama and Poetry require two questions to be answered while Prose has only one as the prose is further studied through the coursework.  The coursework is the product of a mixture of taught lessons and independent research carried out over the summer holiday between the 6.1 and 6.2 years and we would hope that a student completing this piece of work would have the opportunity to choose their own text and analytical focus for the final essay. Coursework is always a stimulating process that will form a major part of a student’s preparation for further study at university.

A Level English Literature is both challenging and rewarding; our students need to read widely and with variety, they learn how to be critical, analytical and cogent in their formal essay writing and they learn to talk about literature with confidence. Students will read Shakespeare, poetry and prose published both before and after 1900 giving them exposure to the literary canon and they will have the opportunity to study contemporary texts.

For those intending to read English at university there is an extension course in 6.2 looking at a range of demanding texts; this takes an extra two periods a week in the autumn term. We also endeavor to run theatre and lecture trips and expose students to readings and literary events when appropriate as this becomes an essential part of enabling students to feel fully rounded in their approach to literature as a discipline and as a pleasure.

Although creative writing is no longer part of the formal A Level assessment the English department offer students the chance to attend creative writing enrichment, to discuss their work with a professional writer and to enter their work into prestigious external competitions. We also produce the Poet’s Stone which is an anthology of creative work produced over the course of the year; students take a leading role editing and producing this.

Examining board: Edexcel

The Poet's Stone magazine
Each year, 'The Poet's Stone' - a compilation of written work by Bedalians - is prepared for circulation to the wider school community.

In 2021, the magazine was edited by 6.2 (Year 13) students Eloise Cooper, Iris Campbell-Lange, Berit Pill, Alice Hockey and Roo Trim.

Head of Department: David Anson