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English & Drama

About the Department

Sullivan’s English and Drama Department boasts 7 full-time staff and plays a full, active role in the life of the school.

Both English Language and English Literature are core GCSE subjects, with an average 100% of pupils scoring A* to C grades in English Language and approximately 99% achieving the same grades in Literature. It is not surprising, therefore, that this is a popular choice for Year 13 and 14 students with approximately 90% achieving A-C.

We have opted to deliver the GCSE AS and A2 Level courses specified by CCEA, teaching a range of classic and more modern texts by Irish, British and American writers.

Drama is now firmly established as a subject choice at GCSE and A Level.  Students enjoy exploring modern and classic plays from a performance perspective.  Their theoretical study informs their analysis of the live performances they see throughout their course.

GCSE Drama

Students develop critical skills and become practised in evaluating their own and others’ performances.  The experience of working collaboratively on a creative project is a challenge that students relish and recognise as directly applicable to many working environments.

We aim to be a friendly and inclusive department where every pupil is valued for their individual talents and encouraged to explore and develop their strengths. The Department aims to provide a stimulating curriculum and also provides pupils with the opportunity to experience a wide-range of extracurricular activities from drama performances and public speaking to creative writing.  We want the pupils to enjoy their learning and discover a love for the subject shared by the teachers of English and Drama. 


Mr C Heaney (Head of Department)
Ms C Bowman-Kinnear, Drama Coordinator
Mrs C C Dorman
Mrs L R Graham (Part-Time)
Miss E Jenkinson
Ms K R Lomas (Part-Time)
Ms C Patterson (Part-Time)
Mrs R J Trainor

English Departmental Aims

There are 3 principal skill areas, described by the Northern Ireland Revised Curriculum and assessed at KS3 through Communication and at KS4, through GCSEs. These are:

  1. Talking and Listening.

  2. Reading.

  3. Writing.

These activities are common to the work of all seven years.

Through a range of stimuli, including literature, media and non-fiction, the pupils will have the opportunity to become critical, creative and effective communicators. The thinking skills, personal capabilities and learning experiences, as prescribed by the ‘Big Picture’ are integral to the teaching and learning of this learning area.

Kids Lit Quiz

The aims and objectives which underlie the work of this department in the three elements are outlined below. The teaching and learning of English are viewed as holistic, and each activity and element occurring in the classroom at any given moment contributes to some degree, no matter how large or small, to the enhancing of the pupil’s command of each of the other perceived elements.

At KS3 Drama will be taught as a discrete subject through modules and through opportunities to use active learning strategies.

Drama Departmental Aims

Each term, all Key Stage 3 students complete a Drama module in addition to their timetabled English classes. This work aims to expand their knowledge of theatre and drama texts. They are encouraged to explore all aspects of Drama and theatre including design during their Drama sessions. The wide array of topics ensure that pupils are exposed to a diverse range of genres, styles, and disciplines. The variety allows students to gain confidence in presentation, develop Working Together and have many opportunities to work creatively.

Our Drama Theatre is a purpose-built space that allows students to experience many pathways in Drama. At Sullivan we offer GCSE and A Level Drama with pupils choosing both performance and design pathways.

The Lyric Theatre is delighted to be partnering with over 20 schools from all across NI this year on our Lyric School’s Affiliation Scheme. The scheme aims to promote and develop drama study within affiliated schools through workshops, resource packs, careers advice and other exciting opportunities! 

Key Stage 3

Years 8, 9 and 10 enjoy a varied curriculum where active learning strategies are used to enhance the development of the personal skills and capabilities prescribed by the Northern Ireland Revised Curriculum. Pupils study a range of poetry, prose and drama texts that are chosen for their appeal to both girls and boys and are appropriately challenging as well as enjoyable. As part of the Media strand of the revised curriculum, pupils also learn about multi-modal communication such as advertising and newspapers and they are encouraged to develop their ICT skills through designated tasks. Pupils are assessed in Talking and Listening, Reading and Writing in the junior school. Opportunities to experience live theatre or hear the work of authors and poets are provided as frequently as possible.

As well as classroom teaching, there is plenty going on within and beyond the Department.  We aim to bring pupils to the theatre as often as possible and we provide opportunity for attendance at poetry recitals and festivals when possible. We bring writers and performers into school for all year groups on a regular basis and we have been privileged to host the famous Irish writer Bernard MacLaverty and popular Teen fiction writers such as Tom Palmer and Dan Freedman.

We have a thriving Creative Writing Club and we organise workshops throughout the year. Recent writers to visit school have been writer and broadcaster, Malachi O’Doherty, performance poet Chris Bradley and teenage author Sheena Wilkinson.  Some senior pupils have also embarked on a sixth form Creative Writers’ Network, where students from various schools, together with professional writers, meet on a monthly basis to explore the craft of writing and share their own work. As a result of this, some very lucky pupils have had the opportunity to attend the prestigious Arvon professional writers’ course. We encourage our writers to publish their work and to enter competitions and we run our own annual poetry competition in school. The winning poet is awarded the Stella Northover Cup on Prize Day. In recent years some of our pupils have pursued their interest in writing into third level education.

There is continued interest and success in public speaking and debating under the guidance of Ms Patterson and Miss Jenkinson, who coordinate competition entries, the Debating club and host the annual house Public Speaking Competition. 

A thriving Junior Drama club meets throughout the year, led by Mrs Trainor and Mrs Bowman-Kinnear, with the assistance of Sixth Form Students. Every other year, Junior Students produce a play, usually in the Autumn Term. Memorable performances include ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’. Our Senior Drama society is run by Mrs Bowman-Kinnear and our most recent public performance was ‘Comedy of Errors’ by William Shakespeare.The senior Drama Society spent the beginning of their February (2020) half term in London. During their visit they watched Six: The Musical, took part in numerous workshops and did lots of sightseeing. Speech and Drama Lessons are hosted in school and throughout the year students take part in a range of festivals and competitions.

There are opportunities to enter competitions designed to provide a forum for their many talents. This year pupils have entered the Young Writers’ Competition, The Times Spelling Bee and the Kidz Lit Quiz in which we were most successful in 2009, qualifying for the finals in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  We also participate in Readathon to raise money for Click Sergeant and we have raised approximately £1,800 each year. We also encourage pupils to assist with Drama productions, act as Library mentors and join the editorial team for the School Magazine.


English Language and English Literature are taught to all classes up to the end of Year 12, at which time all pupils will sit both English Language and English Literature GCSE papers.

GCSE English Language

Examination Board: CCEA 
The specifications for this subject consist of two elements; two external examinations worth a total of 60% and controlled assessment worth 40%.  

Course Content
External Assessment/Examination - pupils will sit two papers, worth a total of 60%       

Controlled Assessment is a core component of this subject. It is 40% of the course in English Language and the requirements are outlined below.

Please refer to the Subject Choice for GCSE Information Booklet for further information on full course details and criteria for entry.

GCSE English Literature

Examination Board: CCEA
The specifications for this subject consist of the following elements; two external examinations worth a total of 80% and controlled assessment worth 20%.

Course Content
External Assessment/Examination - there are two terminal examinations, which are worth 80% of the pupil’s final mark.

Controlled Assessment is worth 20% of the pupil’s final mark.  Pupils will be assessed on their written response based on a Shakespearean play.

Please refer to the Subject Choice for GCSE Information Booklet for further information on full course details and criteria for entry.

GCSE Drama

Examination Board: AQA

Course Content        
This GCSE course follows AQA specification. Whilst studying Drama at GCSE, students will develop and refine their own performance skills. Throughout the course, students will work on published scripts as well as writing and developing their own group performances.

The course is a key foundation for those who may wish to consider further study and training in the performing arts.  Through the course, students will develop their analytical, communication and team work skills, which are crucial in a wide variety of careers. The creative industries are currently booming in Northern Ireland and through the course students will be encouraged and supported in building links with local theatre companies. This course is also very relevant to the study of English Literature and is a useful foundation for further study at A level of English Literature and Theatre Studies.

Component 1: Understanding drama  

​• Knowledge and understanding of drama and theatre 

• Study of one set play from a choice of nine 

• Analysis and evaluation of the work of live theatre makers 


Written exam: 1 hour and 45 minutes 

• Open book 

• 80 marks 

• 40% of GCSE


Component 2: Devising drama 

• Process of creating devised drama

• Performance of devised drama (students may contribute as performer or designer) 

• Analysis and evaluation of own work 


Devising log (60 marks) 

Devised performance (20 marks)

• 80 marks in total 

• 40% of GCSE


Component 3: Text in practice

 Performance of two extracts from one play (students may contribute as performer or designer)  


Performance of Extract 1 (20 marks) and Extract 2 (20 marks) 

• 40 marks in total 

• 20% of GCSE

Please refer to the Subject Choice for GCSE Information Booklet for further information on full course details and criteria for entry.


Pupils in year 13 can opt for English Literature at A level. Currently, English Language and English Literature at GCSE and GCE A level public examinations are those offered by CCEA.

GCE English Literature

Examination Board: CCEA

Course Content            

This subject will be assessed in modules. The first two modules constitute an AS Level and are as follows:

AS Module 1 The Study of Poetry & Drama:

  • The study of the poetry of Robert Frost & Seamus Heaney.

  • The study of Tennessee Williams’, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire

AS Module 2 The Study of Prose Pre 1900

  • Pupils will study the novel ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley

The A2 Level modules are as follows:

A2 Module 1 The Study of Shakespearean Genres

  • Pupils will study the tragedy ‘King Lear’

A2 Module 2 The Study of Poetry Pre 1900 and unseen Poetry

  • Pupils will study the poetry of Metaphysical poet John Donne and unseen poetry throughout the ages.​

A2 Module 3 Internal Assessment

  • Pupils will be required to write a 2500 word essay on two novels, at least one of which must be a 21st century novel.

Please refer to the Subject Choice for AS/A Level Information Booklet for further information on full course details and criteria for entry.

A-Level Drama & Theatre

Examination Board: AQA

Course Content:

The specification inspires students to become independent theatre makers with the skills they need to go on to higher education, whether that is to study a course in drama and theatre or another subject. It has a practical focus as we want students to have an inspiring experience of A-level Drama and Theatre. This qualification emphasises practical creativity alongside research and theoretical understanding.

Students learn through experience, seeing theatre and making theatre for themselves. Students are introduced to a wide range of theatrical styles and contexts as they explore plays practically, devise and work on performances.

Students choose to develop as a:

  • performer

  • designer (lighting, sound, set, costume, puppets)

  • director

  • combination of these.

Whichever option they choose, students will gain many invaluable skills, both theatrical and transferable, to expand their horizons.

Component 1: Drama and theatre

What is assessed


Knowledge and understanding of drama and theatre

Study of two set plays, one chosen from List A, one chosen from List B

Analysis and evaluation of the work of live theatre makers

How it is assessed


Written exam: 3 hours

Open book

80 marks

40% of A-level



Section A: one question (from a choice) on one of the set plays from List A (25 marks)

Section B: one three part question on a given extract from one of the set plays from List B (30 marks)

Section C: one question (from a choice) on the work of theatre makers in a single live theatre production (25 marks)



Component 2: Creating original drama (practical)

What is assessed


Process of creating devised drama

Performance of devised drama (students may contribute as performer, designer or director)

Devised piece must be influenced by the work and methodologies of one prescribed practitioner


How it is assessed


Working notebook (40 marks)

Devised performance (20 marks)

60 marks in total

30% of A-level

This component is marked by teachers and moderated by AQA.


Component 3: Making theatre (practical)

What is assessed


Practical exploration and interpretation of three extracts (Extract 1, 2 and 3) each taken from a different play

Methodology of a prescribed practitioner must be applied to Extract 3


Extract 3 is to be performed as a final assessed piece (students may contribute as performer, designer or director)


Reflective report analysing and evaluating theatrical interpretation of all three extracts

How it is assessed


Performance of Extract 3 (40 marks)

Reflective report (20 marks)

60 marks in total

30% of A-level

This component is marked by AQA.


Years 8-10


Pupils can expect to have one reading homework every week and will be required to complete one piece of written homework each week. This could take the form of finishing off work in class, doing research, language work or extended writing.


Pupils will be expected to complete three written assignments per term to complement the Drama module being taught. This may be research, a script or reflective extended writing.

Years 11-12


Language and English Literature Pupils will be likely to have one piece of written work each week which may consist of Controlled Assessment preparations, language work, summaries, essays or completion of work started in class. It is expected that pupils will be reading each week, in accordance with the demands of the subject.


Pupils will be expected to write up practical sessions in their notebooks after each session and there will be one written homework set per week after the theory class.

As practical assessments approach, student should expect to spend a considerable amount of time rehearsing their performance pieces.

Years 13-14

English Literature

Homeworks will be in the form of reading, research, writing essays and in Year 13, completing coursework. Homeworks will be set on a regular basis to complement class teaching and pupils are expected to complete all tasks to a high standard, which will take a considerable amount of time.


Pupils are expected to read widely around the set texts and to research a range of theatre genres and performance styles.  Pupils are expected to write regularly about each set text and to write reflectively about their practical work. They are expected to see live performances frequently and as practical assessments approach, student should expect to spend a considerable amount of time rehearsing their performance pieces.

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