Department of English Studies

The English Department teaches all students from Remove to Upper 6 and aims to develop a love of language and literature as well as students’ ability to communicate accurately, appropriately and effectively in speech and writing. These skills build on those developed in the primary years.

Language awareness is developed in Reading, Writing, Listening and Talking. Students are encouraged to read independently from a range of fiction and non-fiction matching their interests, knowledge and level of maturity. The literary element of all our courses encourages students to become enthusiastic, informed and perceptive readers. In class, a range of literature suited to the interests and abilities of each class is studied in order to develop students' interest in ideas and their awareness of the variety of ways in which language can be used as well as an appreciation of how writers achieve their effects.

Students are encouraged to draw on their experience of reading to enhance their own writing, and opportunities are provided to work on functional, personal and imaginative tasks. We aim to ensure that students have an understanding of grammar which enables them to be confident in their ability to express themselves well.

Students give individual class presentations to gain experience of communicating clearly and sustaining the attention of an audience. Listening skills are developed through practical class activities and group discussion.

As students progress, they learn to evaluate information for specific purposes, gaining a more sophisticated understanding of register and an awareness of style in both formal and informal situations.


Lower School

In Lower School, students follow courses based on Curriculum for Excellence to give them a firm foundation in all aspects of the subject, enthusiasm for literature and a love of language.

Upper School

The transition to Upper School begins in U4 when students reinforce and extend their skills in English as well as the breadth and depth of their knowledge about literature in a course which prepares them for their GCSE studies.

In L5, all students embark on their two-year course of study for GCSE qualifications in English Language (with the endorsement for Speaking and Listening) and English Literature (Edexcel). Students joining the school mid-year take the SQA National 5 course.

Sixth Form

The majority of students choose to take a one-year course leading to the SQA Higher English qualification, but there is also the option of a two-year route to Higher which incorporates a National 5 qualification at the end of L6. Students wishing to continue their English studies in U6 may take the SQA Advanced Higher course.

Additional classes are offered to students wishing to apply to study at the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge.

Activities (extra-curricular)

The English Department plays a very active part in the life of the school, offering a variety of extra-curricular activities, working closely with Drama colleagues and the School Library.

Debating clubs are run in both Upper and Lower schools, and students compete in several national debating competitions, including the ESU Mace, the Law Society of Scotland's Donald Dewar Memorial competition, the West Coast Worlds competition, and a number of short-prep competitions run by universities, including: Oxford, St Andrews, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Durham. 

Additionally the department participates in Book Buddies; offers theatre visits and workshops; supports students with entries to literary competitions; National Poetry day activities; and in January we run a Lower School Scots Verse-Speaking Competition. We also assist those preparing and delivering speeches at public events such as Speech Day and the Burns Supper.

The department encourages student contributions to the highly-successful, award-winning school magazine “I.W.”, (Independent Women), which has an innovative and hard-working team of student reporters and editors; under the guidance of a member of the department, the team publishes issues each term.

Teaching Staff

Beth Turner

BA (Hons) English and Related Literature, MA Medieval English Literature

Sara Basso de Marc

 BA (Hons) English and Drama

Martin Crawford

 BA (Hons) English , MA (Hons), M.Phil

Jane Jones

MA (Hons) English & General Arts

Andrew Leask

MA (Hons) English Literature

Kate Macsween 

BA (Hons) English and Theology

Carol Magee 

MA (Hons) English 

Shelagh Rodger 

BA (Hons) English, PG Cert TEFL

All our teachers are registered with the GTCS (General Teaching Council for Scotland) and they all hold a post graduate teaching qualification (usually PGCE or PGDE) if their degree is not in education.