The Visit of the Fantastic Gez Walsh!

Gez Walsh

On Tuesday 2nd July, the whole of Year 8 enjoyed a talk by international poet and author Gez Walsh. Inspired by trying to find literature that his son would enjoy, Gez set about writing poetry that combined the ideas that you can write about anything, and that poetry can be fun. And this is the message that went out loud and clear to Year 8.

Some probably attended with preconceived ideas about poetry being boring and dull but this presentation was far from tedious. He initially resorted to getting his audience’s attention by spraying them with water but after that his passion for his art and his ability to connect with this age group meant that their focus was guaranteed (and a bit of ritual humiliation of the teachers didn’t hurt his cause!).

They were treated to his own particular brand of poetry (including poems about spots on bums; toes up taps and relationships) and heard the anecdotes of real events that inspired his poems. Through the fun the serious messages were made: that literacy is important and achievable; that, with the right attitude, anything is possible; that literature is about connecting with your audience; that there is a poem out there for all of us and that parents dancing is downright embarrassing!

In the afternoon, sixty Year 8s enjoyed workshops and spent time discussing language, rhyme and description and creating their own group poems about a new teacher. Mrs Currie and I attended and enjoyed watching them being sent to the brink of madness trying to solve the pure rhymes of ‘music’, ‘oblige’ and ‘bulb’ (in fairness, the pair of us were sent mad too – I’m still working on oblige – so any suggestions very welcome).
Year 8 were a credit to themselves and to the school.

Thanks to the following staff who helped make this event possible: Mrs Haffenden, Mrs Currie and the dancing staff!

Mrs Collins


Last Minute English Language Exam Cramming

As we know, the Reading section is tricky! Most of you will have completed the past papers, so here are some texts that you can use to create your own reading questions. You should be able to guess which texts fit which question best! Of course, practising comparing texts is essential for that question 4 – worth a huge 16 marks.

Here are the three texts you can use for last minute prep – annotate/highlight and PEE analyse. Devise some questions and time yourself undertaking some answers. Remember: Higher – 1s) Information retreival 2) Linking language and presentational devices 3) Language used to convey feelings 4) Comparison of Language.

Source 1. Eng Lang Climate change article

Source 2. Bear Grylls fake article

Source 3. Eng Lang Adventure text

Mr M has helpfully provided a couple of Writing section questions to tackle tonight – give them a go to hone your skills:

Write a brief article for a website of your choice telling your readers about an interesting
or unusual place you have visited. Explain why it was memorable.
(16 marks)

Your school or college is inviting entries for a writing competition. The topic is
“Too many tests, examinations and assessments are ruining young people’s lives and don’t add to their education’
Write your entry arguing for or against this view. (24 marks)

Helpful Revision Booklets for English Lit Unit 1 ‘Exploring Modern Texts’

Hello everyone,

Here are two useful resources created for you to help with your ‘Exploring Modern Texts’ English Literature exam. You should have hard copies (unless you are not doing the ‘Short Stories’):

Of Mice and Men revision booklet:

Of Mice and Men Revision Booklet 2012

Short Stories revision booklet:

Short Stories Booklet 2012.AJQ

Make sure you get busy with revising this weekend! These grades last a lifetime.


Mr Quigley

English Language Reading List


Are you looking to study English Language at A level or at university? This reading list will give you a great head start! 

English Language

‘The Stories of English’, David Crystal

‘A Little Book of Language’, David Crystal

‘Language and the Internet’, David Crystal

‘The English Language: A Guided Tour of the Language’, David Crystal

‘Listen to your Child’, David Crystal

‘Mother Tongue: the story of English’, Bill Bryson

‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves’, Lynn Truss

‘Can You eat, Shoot and Leave?’, Lynn Truss 

‘The Adventure of English’, Melvyn Bragg

My Grammar and I (Or Should That Be ‘Me’?): Old-School Ways to Sharpen Your English’, Caroline Taggart

The Five-Minute Writer: Exercise and inspiration in creative writing in five minutes a day’, Margret Geraghty

AQA English Language B AS: Student’s Book’. Alan Pearce, Marcello Giovanelli and Mark Saunders

Usborne Guide to Better English: Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation’, by R. Gee

Through the Language Glass: Why The World Looks Different In Other Languages’, Guy Deutscher

Language Change: Progress or Decay? (Cambridge Approaches to Linguistics)’, Jean Aitchison

Child Language: Acquisition and Development’,  Matthew Saxton

English Literature Reading List


Are you looking to study English Literature at university? Do you love reading and want to push yourself further? Give this extensive list a look! Don’t be intimidated – pick a small selection, do some quick research and give it a go!

Studying English Literature: A Practical Guide’, Tory Young


The Oxford Companion to English Literature (Oxford Companions)’, Dinah Birch


AQA English Literature B AS Second Edition (Aqa As Level)’,  Adrian Beard and Alan Kent


The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Comedy (Cambridge Companions to Literature)’, Alexander Leggatt


Comedy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)’, Matthew Bevis


The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories’, Christopher Booker


Modern Criticism and Theory’, Prof David Lodge and Dr Nigel Wood


The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (Oxford Paperback Reference)’, Chris Baldick


Beginning theory (third edition): An introduction to literary and cultural theory (Beginnings)’,Peter Barry


York Notes Companions Gothic Literature’, Dr Susan Chaplin


The Art of Fiction’, David Lodge



140 of the best literary works to prepare you for University!

Beowulf :  Seamus Heaney’s translation (Faber) is currently the most popular translation

Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (ThRiverside Chaucer edition)

Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy (Penguin)

Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron (Penguin)

Francesco Petrarch, Canzoniere (Carcanet)

English Religious Lyrics. (Norton)

Medieval English Lyrics (Faber)    

Sir Thomas Wyatt, Poems (Norton)

Edmund Spenser, Amoretti (Norton)

Sir Philip Sidney, Astrophel & Stella (Norton)

Everyman (New Mermaid)

Christopher Marlowe, Dr Faustus (Norton)

William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus (Oxford)

William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew (Oxford)

William Shakespeare, Richard III (Penguin)

William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (Penguin)

William Shakespeare, Hamlet (Penguin)

Thomas More, Utopia (Norton)

Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince (Penguin)

John Donne, Poems (Penguin)

William Shakespeare, King Lear (Penguin)

William Shakespeare, The Tempest (Arden)      

John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi (Norton)

Cyril Tourneur, The Revenger’s Tragedy (Penguin)

Ben Jonson, Volpone (Norton)

Robert Herrick, Poems (Norton)

George Herbert, Poems (Norton)

John Milton, Paradise Lost (Penguin)

John Milton, Samson Agonistes (Longman)

Andrew Marvell, Poems (Norton)

William Wycherley, The Country Wife (New Mermaid)

John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress (Penguin)

John Dryden, Poems (Norton)

Samuel Pepys, Diary (Norton)

Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (Penguin)

Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal (Norton)

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (Norton)

Henry Fielding, Tom Jones (Penguin)

Lawrence Sterne, A Sentimental Journey (Penguin)

Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield (Penguin)

James Boswell, London Journal (McGraw-Hill)

Samuel Johnson, Rasselas (Norton)

Daniel Defoe, Journal of the Plague Year (Norton)

Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock (Norton)

Alexander Pope, The Essay on Man (Norton)

Christopher Smart, Jubilate Agno (Norton)

James Thomson, The Seasons (Norton)

Thomas Gray, Poems (Norton)

Oliver Goldsmith, The Deserted Village (Norton)

Richard Sheridan, The School for Scandal (New Mermaid)

Jane Austen, Sense & Sensibility (Oxford)

Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice (Oxford)

Jane Austen, Emma (Oxford)

Jane Austen, Persuasion (Oxford)

William Wordsworth, Poems (Penguin)

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Poems (Norton)

John Keats, Poems (Norton)

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Poems (Norton)

William Blake, Poems (Oxford)

Robert Burns, Poems (Penguin)

Thomas De Quincy, Confessions of An English Opium Eater (Penguin)

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (Penguin)

Alfred Tennyson, Poems (Everyman)  

Robert Browning, Poems (Everyman)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnets (Norton)

Christina Rossetti, Poems (Norton)

Edgar Allan Poe, Poems (Penguin)

Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist (Penguin)

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (Penguin)

Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (Penguin)

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (Penguin)

Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers (Penguin)

Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary (Penguin)

George Eliot, Middlemarch (Penguin)

George Eliot, Silas Marner (Penguin)

Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (Penguin)

Ivan Turgenev, Spring Torrents (Penguin)

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime & Punishment (Penguin)

Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles (Penguin)

Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure (Penguin)

Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge (Penguin)

Henry James, What Maisie Knew (Penguin)

Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest (Penguin)

Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House (Oxford)

August Strindberg, The Father (Penguin)

James Joyce, Dubliners (Penguin)

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Penguin)

D.H. Lawrence, Sons & Lovers (Penguin)

E.M. Forster, A Passage to India (Penguin)

E.M. Forster, A Room With A View (Penguin)

E.M Forster The Machine Stops (Penguin)

James Joyce, Ulysses (Penguin)

T.S. Eliot, Poems (Faber)

Ezra Pound, Poems (Faber)

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (Penguin)

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (Penguin)

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Penguin)

W.B. Yeats, Poems (Norton)

Wilfred Owen, Poems (Norton)

Robert Graves, Goodbye To All That (Penguin)

Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited (Penguin)

Christopher Isherwood, Goodbye to Berlin (Vintage)

Graham Greene, Brighton Rock (Penguin)

W.H. Auden, Poems (Faber)

Louis MacNeice, Poems (Faber)

Keith Douglas, Poems (Oxford)

George Orwell, 1984 (Penguin)

George Orwell, Animal Farm (Penguin)

Hermann Hesse, Strange News from Another Star (Penguin)

Primo Levi, If This Is A Man (Abacus)

John Osborne, Look Back in Anger (Faber)

Arthur Miller, The Crucible (Penguin)

Arthur Miller, All My Sons (Penguin)

Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire  (Penguin)

Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot (Faber)

Harold Pinter, The Caretaker (Methuen)

Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (Penguin)

William Golding, Lord of the Flies (Faber)

William Golding, The Spire (Penguin)

Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim (Penguin)

J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (Penguin)

Brian Moore, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (Panther)

Philip Larkin, Poems (Faber)

John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman (Vintage)

Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead (Faber)

John Updike, Rabbit Omnibus (Penguin)

Joe Orton, Loot (Methuen)

Iris Murdoch, The Sea, The Sea (Penguin)

Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon (Picador)

Mervyn Peake, Gormenghast (Penguin)

Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera (Penguin)

Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (Picador)  

Isabel Allende, The Stories of Eva Luna (Penguin)

Brian Friel, Translations (Faber)

Philip Roth, The Human Stain (Vintage)

Seamus Heaney, Poems (Faber)

Ted Hughes, Poems (Faber)

R.S. Thomas, Poems (Bloodaxe)

Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities (Picador)

Martin Amis, London Fields (Picador)

Graham Swift, Waterland, Last Orders (Picador)

Author Daniel Blythe Reveals the Writing Behind Doctor Who

Daniel Blythe 1

Daniel Blythe, author of the best-selling Doctor Who book ‘Autonomy’ and the recently released novel ‘Shadow Runners’ (aimed at children aged 11+), visited our school this term to work with Year 7 pupils.

All Year 7 were given the opportunity to listen to Daniel talk about his journey as an author, his passion for all things Doctor Who and his love of writing. They then had an opportunity to ask him questions – and quiz him they did: testing his knowledge of Doctor Who and tapping into his expertise as a writer. Many were fascinated by the process of getting a book to print and, over the course of the day, they interrogated him relentlessly about book deals, publishers and money.

In the afternoon, Daniel led two writing workshops for pupils, giving one group an insight into the formation of convincing characters and the other a lesson in how to create an engaging opening – sharing with them top tips for success, including the importance of a focused perspective. Samples of the pupils’ work will soon be showcased on our English blog:

Our Year 7 were an impeccable audience in the morning and the pupils chosen for the workshops demonstrated their skills as writers superbly. All were a real credit to the school.

Our Doctor Who novels in the library have since leapt of the shelves, surely proving that Daniel Blythe that day succeeded in inspiring a generation of readers who have an eye to becoming writers themselves.

Mrs Collins

Daniel Blythe 2

Daniel Blythe 3