Our English

We all speak and listen and read and write!  The English teachers at Shebbear College try to ensure that pupils do so with assurance.  Through a progressive programme of reading, pupils learn to appreciate the appropriateness of language and its aesthetic qualities, and to create written texts that are suitable for their purpose.

The department’s teachers are keen to keep pace with developments in English teaching that both encourage pupils to read modern texts, and to acknowledge and enjoy the classics.  Each pupil is encouraged to pursue literature through his or her individual reading interests, explore genre in writing, and to take pleasure in discussion and debate, both formally and informally. English lessons are intended to be varied, fun and interesting to pupils eager to acquire essential skills. The English teachers work hard to vary the programme, often incorporating visits to local theatres and exhibitions.

Department Overview

The first three years at the college are years in which solid academic foundations are laid.  With the emphasis on enjoyment of literature and creative writing and the acquisition of basic skills, English lessons are wide-ranging and frequently reflect the interests of the pupils, current affairs (and the teachers’ interests too!)

Lower school pupils have one discrete drama lesson per week in which they are encouraged to communicate, negotiate, coordinate and perform using English.

All pupils in forms one to five are expected to carry with them a reading book and all classes in the lower school begin with a brief period of reading.  Reading is actively promoted and considered crucial to the pupils’ linguistic development.

In the third form pupils move on to study at GCSE level and examinations are offered in both English language and English literature, most pupils sitting higher tier exams at the end of the two-year course. At GCE A level English literature is offered. Universities seem particularly keen to take students that have demonstrated their analytical skills and shown ability in clear and concise expression at A level.

Help is available to those who have difficulties with reading, writing and organisation through the learning support department with which we work very closely. The ESL department supports any pupil whose first language is not English.


Housed in two separate areas, the English department is fortunate to have, in the Beckly Wing of main school, a small teaching room for sixth form tutorials and three further classrooms in the ‘cedar block’ area of school. All classrooms have Internet and intranet facilities and are bright, attractive spaces where students and pupils should feel comfortable and ready to learn. The library is on the ground floor in Beckly Wing and the librarian, Mrs Welby, is very helpful, not only finding texts for pupils, but ordering them from the county library with which we have a borrowing arrangement.

In The Classroom

The expectation is that pupils will work hard to master essential skills.  Even scientists and mathematicians communicate using English, so it is vital to be proficient in language! Exercise books should be kept tidily and each piece of work undertaken conscientiously.  Spelling, handwriting and presentation is important, but we value other creative aspects of work too.


Our 4th and 5th Form Curriculum Guide gives full details of all GCSE subjects – please download this document from the Senior Curriculum page.

AS and A Level

Full details of AS and A Level subjects can be found on our 6th Form Subjects page.

Beyond The Classroom

Our emphasis is on promoting enthusiasm and we work hard to facilitate and foster pupils’ interests. Teachers adopt a variety of strategies to maintain curiosity and commitment, including team teaching, class discussion, project work, role play and hot seating, as well as more formal approaches. Debating skills are encouraged from an early age and are put into practice with class debates, inter-house and inter-school competitions. Confidence gained from participation stands pupils in good stead for the compulsory Speaking and Listening section of their GCSE course. Project work includes poetry writing, short story production and mini-magazine/newspaper work. We participate in ‘Readathon’ and pupils are encouraged to make use of the facilities of our library and internet sites.

Shebbear College is an independent UK school, a co-educational day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 3 to 18, located in rural North Devon.