"Reading is an act of civilization; it’s one of the greatest acts of civilization because it takes the free raw material of the mind and builds castles of possibilities."
- Ben Okri

Subject Overview

The vision of the Kent College English Department is to enable our pupils to acquire the tools and understanding of the English language to become skilled and confident in their use of language - as readers, writers and speakers - so that they can fulfil their potential academically and in the world beyond the classroom and develop social competence by developing interpersonal skills.

To this end, we aim to engage and enthuse pupils by giving them the opportunity in Key Stages 3, 4 and 5 to read and engage with a wide range of challenging texts spanning the whole English literature canon and a range of cultural contexts, ensuring a breadth of study so that our pupils are well-read and able to appreciate the connection between literature and language and the contexts in which they are written and used. Our team of passionate subject specialists will encourage pupils to recognise and engage with the universal and timeless themes and ideas that inspire and influence writers and to understand that they are also connected to these ideas and appreciate how this can inform their own response to a text. Pupils will develop critical appreciation skills, through personal response, leading to discussion and analysis, not only of textual content and technique, but of authorial purpose too. Through their study of literature pupils will be supported in developing their own creative voice.

Alongside their study of literature, pupils will develop their knowledge and understanding of the English language, as well as developing the tools to express themselves confidently, purposefully and accurately in their written and oral communication, recognising the need to adapt their use of language according to purpose and audience. We recognise that good reading and writing skills are essential for examination success, but our philosophy is that our pupils are not only prepared for exams but to be successful communicators in the word beyond the school boundaries.

KS3 GCSE iGCSE Pre A level / Pre IB IB A Level Cambridge Technical Pre U

What skills will I learn?

The English curriculum will enable you to develop a wide range of valuable skills - skills which are essential to success not only in school but which are also key to success in the outside world. Skills in:

  • Reading and decoding texts and writers’ meanings and ideas
  • Critical thinking and evaluation, recognising bias, and implicit and explicit meanings
  • Reviewing and synthesising information/ideas
  • Writing for different purposes and audiences, to communicate your own ideas and thinking
  • Understanding how the English language works
  • Discussion and debating
  • Research

What else will I get to do?

The English Department runs a wide range of extra-curricular activities which our pupils can take advantage of. They can:

  • Join our Creative writing club
  • Enter writing competitions, such as the BBC 500 word short story competition; the Canterbury Festival Poetry competition
  • Enter Book competitions and the Reading Olympics
  • Entry to the Royal Society Science book prize
  • Have their work published in KC Writes – an anthology of students’ creative writing
  • Take part in school-wide activities to celebrate World Book Day
  • Join the Public speaking club
  • Potentially represent their House in the Inter-House Public Speaking competition
  • Take part in Skype interviews with authors
  • Perform in the summer garden opera (a production produced in collaboration with the Music department)
  • Be taught by and attend workshops given by a published author, our own children’s writer in residence, Ms Strange


The department organises a number of theatre trips to both local, London and other theatres, as well as to cinemas to see streamings - live and recorded - of performances.
Additionally we are looking to establish a new residential trip for our A-level and IB students to Stratford-Upon-Avon to see productions of Shakespeare’s plays, as well as take part in workshops and visit local Shakespeare sites.

Our sixth form students are also able to take advantage of attending lecture days on some of the texts studied given by leading academics from UK universities, giving them the opportunity to develop and enhance their knowledge of their exam texts but also to experience university style lectures and get a flavour of what life is like at university.


A number of visiting speakers are welcomed into school to give talks to our students across all year groups, as well as inviting in guest lecturers to enhance the study of some texts at A-level and IB to lecture on the contexts of texts such as ‘The Leopard’ and ‘One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich’.
Visiting authors include Alan Gibbons, Simon Scarrow and Lucy Strange.

The next step..

Anything - the world’s your oyster, but studying English Language and/or Literature directly links to careers in journalism, law, teaching, copywriting, publishing/editing, advertising, marketing, acting and theatre/drama schools, and writing.

The skills studying English develops complement a wide range of other subjects.

Meet the Head of English


Steven Gant BA(Hons), Kent; PGCE, Canterbury Christchurch University

Having originally trained as a journalist, my passion for literature ultimately persuaded me to a career in teaching in the late 1990s and I have certainly had no regrets! (and teaching pupils some rudimentary shorthand symbols speeds up the note-taking process in lessons!). Having taught in a local girls’ grammar school, I joined Kent College as Head of English in 2006.

With particular interests in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, and the Victorian novel, I very much enjoy journeying through the world of literature with my students, encouraging them to see parallels between our society and those that have gone before, an especially proud moment being when one of my GCSE students achieved one of the top 5 marks nationally in her GCSE English Literature qualification. It is genuinely a pleasure to work with our students as they learn about the English language and its literature in our classrooms and to see many go on to continue that journey of discovery at university.

As well as leading the department team I also enjoy organising and overseeing a number of the extra-curricular activities run by the department, as well as collaborating with the Director of Music to direct the annual summer opera production.

Have a question?

If you would like to discuss details of your child's care with us, send us a message and we will gladly answer your questions.