English language and literature are at the heart of the way our students see and understand the world around them. We introduce students to a range of texts, authors and ideas to challenge and stimulate debate. As they develop their appreciation of the subtleties of language and literature, our students develop the most effective communication in their everyday lives, from improving their connections with their friends to critiquing the words of politicians.

Around a core of classic and modern literature, the diversity of our curriculum is the product of the scope of personal interests of our passionate and experienced teaching team – from world myths, social linguistics, metaphysical poetry and women’s middlebrow fiction, to sci-fi, graphic novels and Medieval verse. Students are encouraged to join us in developing their own unique literary journey and to share that with each other.

Junior Department

Lower School

Middle School

Sixth Form


9–7 at GCSE English Literature 2023


9–7 at GCSE English Language 2023


A*–B at A level 2023

"I always look forward to English – it’s so different from my other subjects. I feel inspired by the enthusiasm and energy of discussions we have."
"If you read a book on your own, you see it on one level – and then when you study it in English you see it on five, ten different levels, and I really, really enjoy that."
"I’ve found English lessons broaden my reading horizons. I’m reading books from different genres, and I’ve just read a book in verse, which I never would have picked up but I really loved."

Academic enrichment

Our popular Literary Societies extend students’ experiences of literature and language. We explore all and everything – comics, Old English, crime novels, linguistics – and students learn to undertake their own literary research projects. Creative writing clubs give space and focus for students to develop their craft and share their work, either informally or to enter competitions. Students from Years 7–10 take part in external public speaking competitions, and we hold an annual debating dinner.



Students in Year 10 have the opportunity to join us on our annual Literary Retreat to Bath, where we learn Regency dancing in a stunning ballroom, complete a creative writing scavenger hunt, create our own gothic stories in the style of Mary Shelley and have costumed guided tours of the city. On our Lower Sixth Literary Retreat to London, we take in two shows (ideally one at the Globe and one more contemporary performance at a theatre such as the National or the Bridge), develop our creative writing in response to the Treasures section of the British Library, and enjoy a literary walking tour around Bloomsbury with actors performing poetry and scenes from writers’ lives.

Our much-coveted Creative Writing Cup has been a focal point for our young writers, with the winner being invited to be the next year’s St Helen’s Laureate, charged with producing poetry or prose to mark significant school, national and global events.

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