New Y12 Language Summer Tasks

Fiction – do any THREE of the fiction tasks.

You may choose a novel or a short story but at least two of the tasks MUST be full novels. 

Some choices may fit into more than one category, e.g. You might read a Gothic novel, written prior to 1914, by an author of the opposite sex!

1.    Read a novel or short story set in a different culture. (NOT America)

2.    Read a novel or short story written by an author of the opposite sex to you.

3.    Read a novel or short story written before 1914

4.    Read a classic “coming-of-age” novel or short story.

5.    Read a piece of dystopian fiction. E.g. 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale,  The Hunger Games trilogy.  (Dystopian fiction = A genre of fictional writing used to explore social and political structures in ‘a dark, nightmare world.’)

6.    Read a novel or short story of the Gothic fiction genre – other than The Woman in Black.  Edgar Allan Poe does fabulous short stories in this genre, as does Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Portfolio – you need to do ALL of these tasks.

For this section, you need to read, then print and keep, a selection of texts in a portfolio. You will be expected to produce this for your teacher. You should continue to add to this as the course progresses.

1.    Collect newspaper or magazine interviews with interesting subjects from a variety of sources. (Sunday supplements are often good sources for this, but also specific genre magazines can have good material – e.g. music magazines; sports magazines etc.)

2.    Find at least two DRAMATIC MONOLOGUES with very different characters and by different writers and print them out.

3.    Get copies of transcripts of two speeches, preferably from two different genres. (e.g. not two political speeches)

4.    Watch at least two TED talks (Google “ted talks” and look for ones which interest you – there are hundreds on all sorts of topics).

Fill in the details for each:

  • Name of speaker:
  • Title of talk:
  • What is it about?
  • Comment on your impressions of the speaker’s delivery and how well they engage the audience. What techniques do you notice they use? (e.g. direct address to audience; rhetorical question etc)

New Y12 Literature Summer Tasks

Summer tasks? What the deuce is this all about?

Well, there is a wealth of evidence which shows that students who are widely read, achieve higher grades than those who do not. Certainly, past experience here at Samuel Whitbread has proved that, in English Literature (and Language) at A Level, there is a clear correlation between the breadth of reading a student has undertaken and ultimate grades. Shockingly, every year, there are students who opt to study English at A Level who claim not to read at all . Without fail, these students struggle to accomplish the written tasks to the same standard as their peers who are keen readers of a variety of texts.

The benefits of reading are huge: not only does it increase your fluency in spelling, punctuation and grammar (since you unconsciously pick up correct English usage) but also you are exposed to a wide range of writing forms and styles. For example, you will find it extremely difficult to analyse the similarities and differences in different texts if you have no experience of different styles and genres. Similarly, you need to read historical articles and critical theory to enhance your argument and achieve the higher bands in your coursework.

You will be given a list of set texts to answer for your coursework question and the exam. However, the more confident you are with the different writing techniques and narrative structures, the easier you will find comparing, analysing and re-creating texts.

If you intend to go on to University, whatever your course, then you will be expected to read widely in order to increase your subject knowledge. It really is foolish to embark upon an English course with the attitude that “I’m not really a reader” – NOW is the time to change that and become one.

The tasks you are expected to undertake are designed so that you will encounter a range of genres and build a portfolio fiction beyond the range you have encountered so far; furthermore, you will be expected to research and collate contextual and critical readings of texts.

Enjoy your reading, and have a happy holiday!

Essay Texts and Topics

Complete ONE of these essay questions based on your reading of ONE of the texts. Your essay must not exceed 1500 words and should include information regarding the social, cultural and historical context of when the texts were produced. You must include quotations, analyse the language and explore the different responses of the reader. Finally, try to include literary terms in your analysis (please see ‘Glossary of Literary Terms’ at the back of this booklet).

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

How does Gatsby represent the American dream? What does the novel have to say about the condition of the American dream in the 1920s?


Compare and contrast Gatsby and Tom. How are they alike? How are they different?


A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

Explain Williams’ use of motifs, names and stage directions.  How does that help our understanding of the characters Stella, Stanley and Blanche?


Compare the characters of Stella and Blanche throughout the play. How are they alike? How are they different?


The War Poems by Wilfred Owen

‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’

‘Dulce et Decorum est’

‘The Send-Off’

‘The Parable of the Old Man and the Young’

‘The Sentry’

‘Spring Offensive’

‘Strange Meeting’



Explore how Owen presents the effects of war on the youth of society in Anthem for Doomed Youth and Spring Offensive. In your answer, explore the effects of language, imagery and structure on the reader.


Explore Wilfred Owen’s presentation of war in The Send-Off, Strange Meeting, and Dulce et Decorum Est.? In your answer, explore the effects of language, imagery and structure on the reader.

Welcome Samuel Whitbread Academy English Students!

“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been” (Rainer Maria Rilke)

This September sees the spiffing English Department at Samuel Whitbread Academy looking forward to a challenging, yet exciting academic year, in which we hope to build on last year’s many successes.  We were so incredibly pleased in August to achieve some excellent GCSE and A Level results, and congratulate all our wonderful students who worked so hard to achieve them.  Our three A-level classes performed admirably, with three students achieving the coveted A* grade, and our AS groups also did very well. Our GCSE results were outstanding, with many students achieving the highest grades in both Literature and Language. Consequently, there was many a proud teacher sniffling.

This new academic year we are looking forward to even greater accomplishments from our students… no pressure. We hope that all students reach their potential and achieve the grades they deserve next summer. Once again, we will be running many revision sessions and coursework surgeries to give students the best possible chance of success. Please keep an eye on the each Year’s page and our departmental Twitter account (@EnglishSamWhit)  for useful revision tips and materials.

The new iGCSE syllabus begins this year for the majority of students in Year 10, who will have the new challenges of coursework and exams to overcome.  It is particularly important that students attend all their English lessons this year, and avoid missing them at all costs. This includes early skiing trips which just make the teachers ridiculously jealous and more susceptible to failing your work out of spite.  The timetable to get all the work completed is very tight, and we want all our students to do the very best they can.

In Year 9 we have made some large-scale changes to our programmes of study, and introduced a whole new range of texts and assessment to help our students in their progress towards success at GCSE.  Our students will study a cluster of fictional and non-fictional texts which are linked by a common theme. It’s all rather splendiferously exciting!

Finally, it doesn’t matter who the devil you are;  whether you’re a Year 11 student hoping to achieve an A* in your English Language GCSE this November, a Year 10 following the new course or a fresh-faced Year 9 student keen to show your enthusiasm for the greatest subject offered at school; this blog has been designed with you in mind! As the term progresses, help will be at hand in the form of posts and resources for you, to help improve your exam skills and support you through the courses! Please peruse our regularly updated posts on a vast range of topics, ask that burning question you had forgotten in class, or simply leave a comment stating how wonderfully inspiring your (PE) teacher is – the choice is yours! This blog is designed to give you as much support as possible through your time at Samuel Whitbread.

And thus, I will leave you with this inspirational quote from one of the modern greats,

“This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.” (Taylor Swift)

Best wishes and good luck for this year!

The English Department