English at Ampleforth has a strong tradition of innovation and independence, while vehemently maintaining the centrality and challenge of the literary canon.

English is central to any curriculum, both in introducing the young to the best literature of the past and present, and in providing space for the exploration of their world and experience through language. The ability to read with understanding and pleasure, as well as to deploy concise, accurate and appropriate English, are essential skills for life, but more importantly an essential part of every student’s moral and spiritual development. To these ends, the Department teaches with passion and specialist interest extending from the literature of the early medieval period, through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the Victorian novel, to contemporary poetry. Members of the Department act, direct in the Theatre, play various instruments, sing and write. All this, we believe, has a significant impact on the range of teaching and approach to the subject at every level.

Aims of the Department: 

  • In speaking and writing: to guide and develop knowledge and skills in the use of English, enabling students to think clearly and express thoughts, feelings and experience accurately and appropriately.
  • In reading: to teach the art and encourage the passion of reading well and deeply.
  • In literature: to introduce the significant literature of our culture, because in dialogue with great writing of both past and present students learn about themselves and their world.
  • In the experience of language: to foster delight in the variety and energy of language well used, and so enrich discrimination as well as understanding.