About English at Bede's

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The English language is powerful, flexible and exhilarating - as evidenced by our pupils and their irrepressible desire to use it.

In the English department at Bede's, we focus on the two fundamental aspects of the discipline right from the moment our First Year pupils arrive.

English Language and Literature are taught as one at Bede's, with in-class and personal reading given heavy emphasis irrespective of reading level, and our well-resourced, expertly-staffed Library offering an outstanding amenity for every Bedian.

Across the three terms of the school year, every First Year girl and boy is also guided through an exciting, challenging, unusual curriculum through which they explore and hone their skills in areas as diverse as travel writing, science fiction, Shakespeare and post-war poetry.

With writing and/or debating competitions every half term, different, respected authors visiting us each year, podcasting opportunities, and our singular First Year Masterclass for the most able, the programme is a rigorous preparation for GCSE study and life beyond.

As children move up through the school, every pupil in the Fifth Form then studies both English GCSE disciplines, Language and Literature, and the richness and interplay between these two very different avenues of study helps every one of them to succeed.

On the one hand, in relation to English Language, the department works closely with the English as Another Language team to ensure that the view and mastery of English which our pupils develop is highly functional, inclusive, thoughtful and fun.

As for English Literature, the department's teachers ensure that imagination rules in all of their classrooms, with distinct collections of poetry, novels and plays chosen by each teacher, in line with the interests and passions of their respective classes, to maximise every child's chances of examination success.

Enhanced by our inter-year group Fifth Form Masterclass, Twilight Writer's Workshop programme, and augmented by trips to the theatre and guest speakers and lecturers, these two GCSE years reinforce, stretch, enlighten and empower.

Last but not least, Bede's supports the singular Cambridge Pre-U English course for our Sixth Form students. The jewel in the department's crown, the Pre-U enables our Sixth Formers to develop a profound and personal understanding of English Literature.

Along the way, every Pre-U student reads a dizzying array of works from across the history of the Western Canon, lesser-known texts that challenge it, and complete a personal project that expresses unique and invidual views on novels, plays or poems of their choice. 

In summary, irrespective of their year group, whether it is poetry, prose or drama, or if they are analysing or synthesising, the Bede's English department enables every pupil to bring great works of fiction to life for themselves and fights to ensure that, irrespective of a given child's ambitions, imagination rules.

Learn about the Orchard Rooms >
Matt Oliver
It is through reading and writing that we discover who we are, or who we want to be. In each piece of writing, I want my pupils to have the chance to reinvent themselves.

Matt Oliver, Head of English and Dicker House Tutor

Read Mr Oliver's blog

English News and Blogs

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Pupil Stories

  • Talisker Cornford, Lower Sixth

    As a result of my experiences at Bede's I have flourished over time and have learned to set an infinite potential for myself.

    Talisker Cornford, Lower Sixth Interviewed in 2016
  • Kai Maxted, Upper Fifth

    I remember hearing about Bede’s accomplishments when I wasn’t here. Now I'm part of that. It makes me really proud.

    Kai Maxted, Upper Fifth Interviewed in 2015
  • Laura Adebisi, Upper Fifth

    Since coming here I have developed a real passion for essay writing and badly want to study English at University.

    Laura Adebisi, Upper Fifth Interviewed in 2013
More Pupil Stories

About English at Bede's staff

It is through reading and writing that we discover who we are, or who we want to be. In each piece of writing, I want my students to have the chance to reinvent themselves.

Matt Oliver, Head of English and Dicker House Tutor

One of the best things about being a teacher is that you don't just teach - you continue to learn at the same time.

David Cheshire, Deputy Head of Sixth Form, Teacher of English and Dicker House Tutor

There is truth in fiction. It is, ultimately, the mirror we hold up to ourselves and to society.

Paul Gibbs, Director of Higher Education, Teacher of English and Bloomsbury House Tutor

Working with students, and seeing them develop in confidence and self belief to achieve great things, is always impressive and immensely rewarding.

Clare Mander, Teacher of Learning Enhancement and English and Dorms House Tutor

I love teaching in general and English in particular, as I feel that education and the ability to use language truly empowers students.

Michelle Martin, Charleston Housemistress and Teacher of English and EAL

Working at Bede's is a dream job. I get to share my unquenchable passion for literature with a new generation of fertile minds in an inspirational, supportive environment - it is a joy and a privilege.

Justin Sealey, Camberlot Deputy Housemaster and Teacher of English

Bede's is a unique place full of unique people. I've been a teacher for all my career and there's nowhere quite like it.

Jane Savage, Teacher of English and Dicker House Tutor

Teaching is one of the great pleasures of my life. It simply doesn't get better than helping children to achieve things that they never thought possible.

Philip Trenaman, Teacher of English and Deis House Tutor

It is our language which defines us as humans. There can be no more important time within school than that spent studying the language we are constantly using.

John Tuson, Academic Deputy Head, Teacher of English and Deis House Tutor

I am deeply passionate about the kind of education available to children at Bede's. It is extremely rare for a school to offer so much to its pupils.

Martin Vaux, Teacher of English and Knights House Tutor