English Department


  • Welcome to St. Mary’s English Department.
In line with the objectives of the Northern Ireland Curriculum, St. Mary’s English Department plays a significant role in helping all pupils prepare for life and work:
  • as individuals;
  • as contributors to society;
  • as contributors to the economy and environment.
English develops pupils as individuals by:
  • developing pupils’ ability to communicate effectively;
  • helping pupils to understand how language is used to define identity and convey ideas, feelings and experiences;
  • enabling pupils to explore and respond to others’ ideas and emotions imaginatively or critically;
  • encouraging pupils’ creative expression.
English develops pupils as contributors to society by:
  • providing opportunities for pupils to explore how the attitudes and actions of individuals can impact on other people’s lives;
  • providing opportunities for pupils to consider issues that affect society, through engagement with literature and media;
  • making pupils aware of the power that media and language have to shape society.
English develops pupils as contributors to the economy and environment by:
  • developing pupils’ communication skills as required by employers;
  • giving pupils opportunities to engage with issues around employment, economies and the environment;
  • making pupils aware that media and language can be used to convey messages about the economy and environment in certain ways.


  • Mrs S. O’Connor H.O.D.
  • Mrs C. Alexander
  • Mrs G. Doherty
  • Ms B. Gourley
  • Mrs A. Green
  • Ms D. McDonald
  • Mr J. McGill
  • Ms P. Taylor
  • Ms R. Murray
  • Ms C. Haran
  • Ms C. Carson


English is part of the core curriculum for all pupils at Key Stage 3. Pupils have five lessons of English a week. We encourage our pupils to become critical, creative and effective communicators. Our KS3 curriculum provides pupils with opportunities to explore a range of stimuli including peers, poetry, prose, drama, non-fiction and media. The three strands of the cross-curricular skill of Communication – talking and listening, reading and writing are all promoted and developed in the English Department.


CCEA English Language and English Literature are both available to study at GCSE. We also provide opportunities for a small number of pupils to follow courses in Entry Level English and Essential Skills Communication. GCSE English Language GCSE English Language allows pupils to demonstrate their ability in functional English; to investigate and analyse language; and, to experiment and use language creatively. The scheme of assessment for GCSE English Language is unitised: Externally Assessed Components
  • Unit 1 –  1 hour 3o min examination (20%)
     Section A: Writing - Personal Writing      Section B: Reading - Multi-modal texts (comparison/ cross -reference)
  • Unit 2: 1 hour 30 minute examination (20%)
     Section A: Writing - Discursive (one side of an issue)      Section B: Reading - Non-fiction (1 stimulus) Examinations are available in both Higher and Foundation Tier. Controlled Assessment Unit 3: Speaking and Listening (20%) 3 tasks:
  • individual presentation
  • group interaction
  • role play
Unit 4: Studying Spoken and Written Language and Writing Creatively (40%) 3 tasks:
  • 4.1 The Study of Spoken Language
  • 4.2 The Study of Written Language
  • 4.3 Writing Creatively
GCSE English Literature CCEA GCSE English is a unitised specification, with three assessed units. Unit 1: The Study of Prose (20%) External Examination 1 hour Unit 2: The Study of Drama and Poetry External Examination 2 hours
  • Section A: Drama, including Shakespeare
  • Section B: Poetry based on an anthology of 12 poems
  • Section C: Unseen Poetry
Unit 3: The Study of Linked Texts (25%) Controlled Assessment Linked study of Shakespeare and a heritage prose text. 2 part response to task: part a) Shakespeare (10%); part b) prose text and then comparison (15%)  

Post 16

Post-16, the English Department follows CCEA’s GCSE English Literature Specification. Year 13 AS1: The Study of Drama (Internal Assessment) AS2: The Study of Poetry Written after 1800 and the Study of Prose 1800-1945 Year 14 A21: The Study of Poetry - 1300-1800 and Drama A22: The Study of Prose – theme-based

Examination Performance

The English Department celebrated success in both GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature and both AS and A2 English Literature. One of our A2 students, Grace McGowan, achieved an A* and is now studying English Literature at Oxford University. In GCSE English Language Unit 1 F (externally assessed examination unit), St. Mary’s outperformed similar centres and all AQA centres in the % of pupils achieving A* - C. GCSE English Language    A* - C:   62% GCSE English Literature   A* - C:  77% (57% of students achieved A* -B) AS English Literature        A – C:  50% A2 English Literature        A* - C: 75%

Extra Curricular

Coming soon..  Film-Club Film-Club has been running in St. Mary’s College since March 2012 with a view to expanding the children’s horizons and allowing them an insight into lives different from their own.  The club runs every Wednesday for an hour after school and a wide variety of movies have been seen.  Pupils can suggest film titles and the Film-Club website affords pupils the opportunity to write their own reviews and read those of their peers.  This can benefit their English with reviews being an essential part of the GCSE syllabus. Film-Club has also worked in cross-border partnership with Scoil Mhuire in Buncrana. Pushkin Creative Partnerships Year 10 pupils are involved in a Pushkin Creative Partnership with schools in Moscow, Russia. St. Mary's English Department hosted a group of Russian Trainee teachers and their tutors from Moscow State University to the school last year. They had the opportunity to teach some of our KS3 students. City of Culture Short Story Anthology 5 of our most talented writers at KS4 and KS5 had their short stories published in the anthology Soundtrack to Our Lives. The pupis whose stories feature in the anthology are:
  • Grace McGowan
  • Annie McCauley
  • Shauna McClean
  • Cara McBride