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 A. Green
  • Ms D. McDonald
  • Mr J. McGill
  • Ms P. Taylor
  • Mrs R. Murray
  • Ms C. Haran
  • Mr B.McGinn


English is part of the core curriculum for all pupils at Key Stage 3. Pupils have six 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: GCSE (Legacy Specification) 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 Language (Revised Specification) Externally Assessed Units: Unit 1: Writing for Purpose and Audience and Reading to Access Non-Fiction Texts. (30% weighting) Unit 4: Personal or Creative Writing and Reading Literary and Non-Fiction Texts. (30% weighting) Controlled Assessment Umits: Unit 2: Speaking and Listening (20% weighting) Unit 3: Studying Spoken and Written Languagr (20% weighting)
CCEA GCSE English Literature (Legacy Specification) 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%) CCEA GCSE English Literature (Revised Specification) Unit 1: The Study of Prose (External Assessment - 30% weighting) Unit 2: The Study of Drama and Poetry (External Assessment - 50% weighting) Unit 3: The Study of Shakespeare (Controlled Assessment - 20% weighting)  

Post 16

Post-16, the English Department follows CCEA’s GCSE English Literature Specification. Year 13 AS 1: The Study of Poetry 1900-Present and Drama 1900-Present (External written examination: 60% of AS and 24% of A2) AS 2: The Study of Prose Pre 1900 (External written examination - 40% of AS and 16% of A2) Year 14 A2 1: Shakespearean Genres (External written examination - 20% of A level) A2 2: The Study of Poetry Pre 1900 and Unseen Poetry (External written examination -20% of A level) A2 3: Internal assessment. Students complete a 2500-word essay. (20% of A level)

Examination Performance

The English Department celebrated success in both GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature and both AS and A2 English Literature.

Year 12 2017

GCSE English Language 

A* - C:   69.2%

A* -B: 25%

Year 12 2017

GCSE English Literature 

A* - C:  91.4%

A* -B: 54.3%

AS English Literature 

A* – C:  100%

A* -B: 42.9%

A2 English Literature 

A* - C: 66.4%

A* -B: 33.2%

Extra Curricular

Macbeth Trip

In October, Year 12 GCSE English Literature pupils attended a performance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth by the Bright Umbrella Theatre Company. The event was hosted by St. Patrick’s and St. Brigid’s College, Claudy. After the performance, pupils had the opportunity to both meet the cast and ask questions.

Soroptimist Public Speaking Competition

In October, Year 12 pupils Ellie Sheerin and Ciara Doherty participated in the Soroptimist Public Speaking Competition. The event was held at The White Horse Hotel, Campsie. Ciara asked the question:

“Every generation has had its problems – what’s in store for us?”

Ellie, in her speech, addressed the current political stalemate at Stormont.

Voice of the Future Public Speaking Competition

In November, a group of KS3 and KS4 pupils participated in The Voice of the Future Public Speaking Competition. The event was organised by the Junior Chamber International (Derry) and sponsored by Catalyst Inc. Pupils spoke about a number of subjects including Donald Trump, single-sex education, social media, drugs and mental health issues.

Year 9 Visit to the Seamus Heaney HomePlace

In November, our talented writers in Year 9, accompanied by Ms Haran and Mrs McCarron-Deane visited the Seamus Heaney HomePlace where they participated in the Alphabets one-day creative writing programme. Engaging with Heaney’s poem “Alphabets” and using modern media, pupils engaged in their own Heaney-inspired writing.

Careers Trip

In December, the Art, Moving Image and English Departments took a group of KS4 English Literature and KS5 Art and Moving Image pupils to a special screening of Star Wars. The Creative Industries Careers Event was organised by Into Film. Before the film screening, there was an informative talk about careers in the Creative Industries which is a growing industry in Northern Ireland. The speaker discussed the skills shortage in this area and the opportunities available.

National Young Writers’ Poetry Competition

In a bid to promote the enjoyment of reading and writing poetry, KS3, KS4 and KS5 pupils were encouraged to enter a national poetry competition and try their hand at writing poetry. They were tasked to join either “Team Truth” or “Team Dare” and write a poem packed full of passion, personality and poetic techniques (of course!).

They didn’t disappoint!

In December, St. Mary’s English Department were delighted to learn that a whopping twenty-six of our pupils’ poems had been selected for publication in the forthcoming Young Writers’ Poetry Anthology, published in February 2018!