Offering a window into the extraordinarily diverse ways in which we have striven to understand ourselves and our place in the world, and our attempts to communicate what it means to be human.

English is at the core of who we are, where we have come from and how we communicate. What could be more interesting, vital and enduringly pertinent?

“Language tethers us to the world; without we spin like atoms” Penelope Lively

The English department aims to ensure that pupils communicate clearly in person and on ‘paper’ and that they can adapt their speaking and writing for different purposes, contexts and audiences. We foster enjoyment, understanding and appreciation of literary, non-fiction and media texts and encourage them to be independent thinkers who respond personally and critically. We stimulate pupils through engaging, interactive and motivating lessons and raise their self-esteem by valuing their classroom and wider contribution to the department and school. Pupils at Ipswich School know their needs will be met and that we are committed to helping each pupil fulfil their potential.

Details of reading lists are available here in the School Library page of the website.

Lower School

For Year 7 and 8 pupils, the experience of English is one that inspires creative engagement with the written and spoken word. It provides the opportunity to enjoy the art of storytelling and to read for pleasure; at the same time we equip pupils with the skills to help them become sympathetic, analytical readers and confident writers. They encounter a wide range of classic and modern, non-fiction and media texts. Above all, our goal is to instil a lasting enthusiasm for the experience of reading which connects us to ourselves and each other.

Middle School

From Year 9, we prepare pupils for the challenges of GCSEs in English Language and English Literature. They are introduced to a variety of different skills in reading and writing that not only prepare them for the exams, but also equip them as they progress further into their academic and work lives. Pupils learn to hone their abilities to read critically in response to texts where they engage keenly and analytically with a writer’s craft and become confident and autonomous readers. In short, they appreciate the power of language and begin to harness it for themselves.

Sixth Form

We teach the OCR A Level English Literature course. The qualification comprises the detailed study of a particular literary genre (the Gothic) in addition to the examination of C19th drama and poetry plus a major Shakespeare play. Students prepare to undertake the coursework unit at the end of Year 12 which is completed and submitted in the first term of Year 13 (the summer holiday provides a timely opportunity for pupils to read set and related texts). This portfolio of two essays takes as its focus a theme which connects a significant work of prose, poetry and drama. The course therefore offers pupils the chance to specialise but also consider texts within their transcendent social, cultural, critical and historical contexts

“Thank you for introducing me to academic English; the course was an exploration rather than an A Level. Ideas were always valued, everyone contributed and there was always a very positive atmosphere.” Sixth Form student

The department has a reputation for subject specialism and a genuine passion for literature, film and theatre which we are keen to share; we welcome enthusiasm and repay it generously.

The syllabus is embracing, thought-provoking and excellent preparation for degree-level study. Within seminar-style lessons the relationship between teacher and student is consciously less formal; we appeal to individuals who enjoy exchanging ideas within a rigorous, supportive and good-humoured environment.

Exam results

The average of the results in English Language and Literature over the most recent three year period (2023, 2022, 2021) is:

GCSE English Language
GCSE English Literature
A Level English Literature
A* – A56%
A* – B85%