The department intends to encourage and extend an enjoyment, appreciation and understanding of English, and to create an atmosphere where pupils wish to learn.

Pupils should experience a variety of activities during a course of study and be given opportunities to discuss, argue and debate their views. Department staff will aim to show the benefits that language and literature have brought us, by way of well-chosen resources and careful comment.

The department enthusiastically pursues the following academic aims:

  • to foster pupils' ability to read accurately and independently, and to distinguish between a broad spectrum of texts through extensive reading

  • to develop pupils' ability to write clearly, accurately, imaginatively and analytically with a wide vocabulary in a variety of forms

  • to develop pupils' knowledge about different kinds of English, and about language, by exploring the structure and origin of words

  • to enable pupils to speak confidently in a range of circumstances, and to listen and respond appropriately

  • to encourage pupils' informed personal responses, and to promote an awareness of, and respect for, other people's perspectives

  • to create an environment where pupils enjoy their English lessons and increase in confidence orally and on paper

English should be invigorating and we, as English teachers at Eltham College, do all we can to ensure that every pupil enjoys their lessons and makes significant progress in their time with us.

A Level

Students who engage in reading for its own sake will enjoy studying English Literature at A level. The course is highly enjoyable and incredibly rewarding. It is a very popular option in the Sixth Form. A great deal of effort goes into ensuring lessons are stimulating and that all contribute to discussions; there is a wide range of co-curricular opportunities for those studying this A level.

  • English Society - this is run by departmental staff for Sixth Form students and arranges a variety of co-curricular opportunities.

    • There are interview practice sessions for prospective Oxbridge candidates as well as preparation for the ELAT pre-interview examination at Oxford.

    • The department also organises academics and guest speakers to address the students on set texts and issues in contemporary literature. In recent years we have heard from:

      • Sir Andrew Motion

      • Professor Jon Stallworthy

      • Dr Robert Douglas-Fairhurst from Oxford

      • Professor William Rowe from Birkbeck

      • contemporary poet Lee Harwood

      • critic Ian Brinton

      • Dr Sean McEvoy

      • Henry Claridge from Kent University

  • Wider Reading Group – this is aimed at all pupils who want to read far beyond the A-level syllabus. Texts that have been discussed in the last year include:

    • JG Ballard's High Rise

    • Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian

    • Milton's Paradise Lost

    • Adolfo Bioy Casares' The Invention of Morel

    • Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis

    • Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day

  • Debating - The department has a proud history of success in Debating. Pupils compete in the Oxford, Cambridge and other national debating competitions.

  • Film Club - open to pupils from Years 10 to the Upper Sixth this club aims to develop visual literacy.

Higher Education

Many pupils leave the school to read English at top universities. In the last three years six pupils have won places at Oxford and Cambridge alone, with a great many others going to Russell Group universities to read the subject.


The department is staffed by:

Creative Writing

The department is committed to developing creative and expressive writing. In 2009 we had the young playwright Kenny Emson as our Writer in Residence. He helped pupils with their writing alongside classroom teachers, ran a lunchtime club and presented a Creative Writing Evening in December; some of the best work was collected in an Anthology.

The Mervyn Peake Library

Named after Old Elthamian Mervyn Peake, author of the Gormenghast trilogy, the library is the buzzing heart of the school. It is overseen by a Chartered Librarian and Assistant and is open from 8am to 5pm every day.

The Librarian seeks to enable pupils to access the curriculum by providing resources in the form of books, eBooks, online encyclopaedias, DVD’s, journals, magazines and newspapers.

Reading for pleasure is also extensively catered for, with a large fiction library.

EBooks have been carefully chosen by the Librarian to be of especial benefit to pupils from Year 10 upwards. The eBook library allows pupils to access resources on a 24 hour basis; thus allowing resources to be available whenever, and wherever the pupil needs to access them. The resources are available on their computers, netbooks, tablets or phones.

The Library Catalogue is also now accessible online and via an app so that pupils can quickly find out if the resources they need are held in the library, and if so, reserve them to pick up at their convenience.

In addition there are several online encyclopaedias and databases which are accessible in to pupils inside or outside of school via this website.

For more information, please click here.