Subject Team

Mrs G Montgomery (Head Of Department)
Miss G Gibb
Miss P Curry
Mrs R Murphy
Miss S Gowing
Mrs C Press

Department Aims

GCSE English Language develops a range of skills which transcend the specific context of the English classroom and are transferable personally and professionally.  These include the ability to communicate articulately, assume leadership, make decisions and resolve problems, work as part of a team, read with discernment and write effectively.

GCSE English Literature aims to promote and develop a life-long enjoyment of literature through creative and critical engagement with a range of texts.  This provides a foundation on which to scaffold skills which will nurture confidence, empathy, and intellectual independence as well as facilitating the achievement of academic excellence. A Level will broaden and deepen the knowledge, and understanding nurtured at GCSE, affording students opportunities to appreciate how literature may be a catalyst for emotional expression, political and social attitudes, moral values and spiritual experiences.

GCSE Journalism offers an educational experience that is topical, vocationally orientated, and affords students the opportunity to practice the core journalism skills of interviewing, writing and reporting.

More detail on all specifications may be found on CCEA’s website: mailto:[email protected]


GCSE English Language

GCSE english

Examination board: CCEA

What is GCSE English about?

Students studying English Language will benefit personally through opportunities to express their opinion, assume leadership and work as part of a team, all of which will nurture self-esteem, confidence and empathy.  They will acquire a range of skills transferable to the workplace such as effective oral and written communication.

 What will I study and how will I be assessed?

Content Assessment %

Unit 1:


Writing for Purpose and Audience and Reading to Access Non-Fiction and Media Texts


External written examination




1 hour 40 mins


Students respond to five tasks.





Unit 2:


Speaking and Listening


Controlled Assessment








Unit 3:


Studying Spoken and Written Language



Controlled Assessment







Unit 4:


Personal or Creative Writing and Reading Literary and Non-Fiction Texts



External written examination




1 hour 40 mins


Students respond to five tasks.




What can this subject lead to?

 Competency in English Language is foundational to success in all careers.  Studying English Language enhances the inter-personal skills necessary in a range of professions such as personnel management, social work, marketing and advertising, travel and tourism.



GCSE English Literature

Examination board: CCEA


What is GCSE English Literature about?


English Literature fosters a life-long enjoyment of prose, drama and poetry through creative and critical engagement with a range of texts.   It also develops a range of skills such as the ability to think independently, research, plan, and reason coherently. Opportunities for cultural outings enhance engagement with literature as well as highlighting the importance of the arts in the business and economic sectors.

 What will I study and how will I be assessed?


Content Assessment Weightings

Unit 1:


The Study of Prose


External written examination


1 hour 45 mins


Students answer two questions.




Unit 2:

The Study of Drama and Poetry



External written examination


2 hours


Students answer two questions.






Unit 3:


The Study of Shakespeare


External written examination


2 hours


Students complete an extended writing question based on a theme.





What can this subject lead to?


Many who study GCSE English Literature progress to English Literature at A Level which is an appropriate precursor to careers in the creative industries such as writing, publishing, acting, media and the arts.  It may also lead to employment in areas specifically related to engagement with literature such as librarianship, journalism and teaching, as well as providing a perfect foundation for work in the legal financial and health sectors.



 Examination Board:  CCEA

What is GCSE Journalism about?

Journalism will be enjoyed by those interested in pursuing a career media – related industries.    Students will practise the core journalism skills of interviewing, writing and reporting.  The opportunity to participate in BBC School Report provides invaluable vocational experience.

Content Assessment Weighting
Component  1

Cross-Platform Research Portfolio

Controlled Assessment

Production of 2 stories in print and online formats.

Component  2

Stimulus Portfolio

Controlled Assessment

Production of a radio bulletin script and a review/ opinion piece based on pre-release stimulus provided by CCEA

Component 3

Practical and Technical Journalism

On-line Examination 25%
Component 4

Journalism Theory, Industry and Practice

Written Examination 25%


What can this subject lead to? 

Journalism can lead to occupations in media-related industries researching, interviewing, editing, directing, producing and writing for newspapers or magazines.  It also develops a range of skills which are transferable to other areas of employment including those in the IT sector.

A Level

English Literature

Examination Board: CCEA

What is A Level English Literature about?
English Literature is the study of literary texts of different genres, spanning a range of contexts. Students will learn how context influences text and how writers craft language to explore themes of universal significance. In so doing they will develop the ability to critically evaluate, think independently and communicate effectively in spoken and written language.

What will I study and how will I be assessed?

AS Content Assessment Weighting
AS 1 The Study of Poetry 1900 – Present

And Drama 1900 Present


External Examination


60% of AS

25% of A Level


AS 2 The Study of Prose Pre 1900


External Examination


40% of AS

15% of A Level

A2 Content Assessment Weighting
A2 1: Shakespearean Genres  

External Examination


20% of A Level
A2 2: The Study of Poetry Pre 1900 and Unseen Poetry


External Examination


20% of A Level
A2 3: Internal Assessment


Internal Assessment


20% of A Level

Are there any particular qualities, skills I should have to study this course and to what kind of careers can it lead?

To study English at A Level you should enjoy reading, researching, working independently, discussing your point of view with others and writing analytically.

Many who study Literature at A Level continue their studies at university. This affords them the opportunity to pursue specific interests in a genre or period of literature and to broaden and deepen the experience of literature initiated at A Level. A qualification in English Literature at A Level is an excellent stepping stone to careers in the creative industries or further studies in areas such as librarianship, journalism and teaching, or law, finance, management and human resources.

Entry requirement: B in English Language and B in English Literature.

Department News / Events

Year 11 Read-On

Year 11 students from Portadown College who took part in the English Department annual sponsored Read-On for Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children, presented a cheque for £463.85 to Rebecca Spiers representing NICFC.  The charity Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children is close to the heart of staff and students at the College, where students have raised in excess of £10,000 over recent years.

Portadown College Journalism

PC Journalism Club students became working journalists for the day on 1st March when they produced and recorded a radio package for BBC School Report on board the BBC Bus about supporting the well-being of young people in Portadown College.


Portadown College recently brought local mentoring charity Reach on board to support students in their everyday lives.  Reach is an organisation that exists to mentor and help young people to unleash their potential, currently partnering with 17 schools in the Craigavon area.


Matthew Walsh interviewed Reach volunteer Johnny Hampton finding out a little bit about Reach:  their origins, purpose and programme.


With Johnny was Zoe Davison who was in one of the first classes to work with the Reach team in Lurgan.  Hollie Teggart interviewed Zoe about how Reach helped her to cope with the struggles she had as a young person.


Adam Hewitt, Kiara Stothers and  Kirsty Buller were hands on throughout the day recording vox pops for the package, while Amy Cosgrove, Hannah Ashley and  Gemma Davies became professionals in the Voice Over department.


Upon completion of the project, the BBC staff assisted our on-site Year 11 cameraman Phillip Shirley and Journalists as the PC Journalists recorded an additional audio visual news package relating to the consequences of listening to music through headphones.


Both packages should be available on the school website and on the BBC School Report website by BBC School Report News Day on Thursday 16th March 2017.



Portadown College students star in BBC School Report Promotional film

As enthusiastic contributors to BBC School Report over the years, making films about teenage life in Portadown, Safer Internet Day and The Dickson Plan, in addition to interviewing Ireland Rugby Captain Rory Best and starring in the live news programme 2016, the BBC asked the students of Portadown College to feature in their new promotion of BBC School Report for 2017.

Filming took place in Portadown College, and the final piece can now be viewed online on BBC NI and BBC School Report.  The film stars PC Journalism Club:  Nathan Capper as editor, Dale Mulligan, Matthew Walsh, Naomi Cunningham, Rosie Johnson and Emily Monroe as reporters.




» View School Report on BBC web site

Public Speaking

Students may exploit their talents through participation in several competitions. In the past Portadown College students have achieved outstanding results in public speaking, for example:

PC public speakers have talked their way to the Business and professional Women’s Public Speaking Competition National Finals in England.

Both of the Portadown College Public Speaking teams to make it through to the regional BPW NI Finals on Saturday displayed flair and excellence, taking home the top prizes, winning first and second places.

Team 1 with Tim Neill, Katherine Whitten and Alex Maxwell came first; progressing to the National Final on 25th March, with Tim Neill presented Best Chairman.

Katherine Whitten defended the right to freedom of conscience, tackling the topically controversial ruling on Asher’s bakery, supported by Tim Neill as Chairman and Alex Maxwell as Expresser of Thanks.

Team 2 with Kiara McClelland, Sophie Heasley and Joanna Kerr were placed runners up with Sophie Heasley awarded best Expresser of Thanks.  Joanna kerr delivered an emotive evaluation of the refugee crisis with them mates Kiara McClelland as Chairman and Sophie Heasley as Expresser of Thanks.

PC public speakers have triumphed in the Business and Professional Women’s Public Speaking National Final in England.

Having emerged victorious from the BPW NI Final in February, Portadown College’s Public Speakers proceeded to the National Final in England on Saturday 25 March and were equally impressive.

Katherine Whitten defended the right to freedom of conscience, tackling the topically controversial ruling on Asher’s bakery, supported by Tim Neill as Chairman and Alex Maxwell as Expresser of Thanks. They were awarded Best Team with Tim singled out as Best Chairman and Alex as Best Expresser of Thanks.

This is an exceptional achievement and a fitting conclusion to another excellent year of competing, with students placed first or second in all competitions entered.

PC public speakers have again been victorious.

Matthew Walsh was awarded first place in a strong field of 24 competitors in the Edgar Graham Memorial Public Speaking Competition which took place last Wednesday at Stormont.

The adjudicator prefaced the presentation of the silver salver by saying that it was going to the individual who had produced “an exceptional piece of public speaking”.

Not to be left out, Katherine Whitten was awarded “First Highly Commended”, which meant that she was ranked 4th overall.

This continues the excellent performance of Portadown College at this event.  Sophie Hill was first last year and Neil Reilly second the year before.

Soroptimist Public Speaking Competition (Year 12 and 13 females)

1st in 2011, 2012 and 2014, 2nd and 3rd in 2013

Soroptimist Public Speaking

Edgar Graham Memorial Public Speaking Competition

“First Runner-Up” 2012 and 2014, Highly Commended 2012

Graeme Edgar

Business and Professional Women’s Public Speaking Competition

1st in regional heat, 2011, 2013, 1st in NI Final 2013, Best Speaker National Final 2014

BPW public speaking 2014 BPW public speaking 2014

Educational Visits / Trips

Students are opportunities to extend their educational engagement through extra-curricular experiences such as attending theatrical performances and talks. Here are some of our recent trips:


Year 12 Journalism students got a taste of broadcasting on their visit to BBC Broadcasting House in Belfast.

Their tour gave them exclusive access to the TalkBack where past PC student Laura Truman (Blakely) who works on the production team was able to provide some inside tips on working in Broadcasting.

Following visits to BBC 2 continuity and Hugo Duncan in his new studio at Radio Ulster, the highlight of the tour was access to the Gallery for the Newsline LIVE broadcast at 1:30pm.  Students observed the producers lining up footage, audio clips and autocue while hearing countdowns and calls for OOV amongst other jargon Broadcasters use.

Students were inspired to write their own news scripts in preparation for their forthcoming Broadcasting Assessment.


Seamus Heaney Homeplace Visit, October 2016

The English and Drama departments visited the newly opened Homeplace for a performance of Seamus Heaneys Burial at Thebes, a local translation of Sophocles Antigone. The amateur production staged by local Magherafelt cross community drama club Off the Cuff served as a reminder of Heaneys traditional roots. Homeplace is a celebration of Nobel poet Seamus Heaneys life and work.

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GCSE Journalists get behind the scenes at BBC Broadcasting House, September 2016

Year 12 GCSE Journalism students visited BBC Broadcasting House as part of their Unit 3 study of Broadcasting and Communications.

Students got behind the scenes in both TV and radio studios, learning about continuity, lighting, timing and scripting among other things.

Sitting in Mark Carruthers’ chair on the set of The View, or taking Uncle Hugo’s chair in Radio Ulster Studio 1 came naturally to some of the Journalism students!

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Macbeth, Queens Film Theatre, October 2015

‘Hail Macbeth that shalt be King hereafter’

GCSE English Literature students attended a screening of the new film ‘Macbeth’ starring Michael Fassbender at Queens’ Film Theatre on 14th October 2015.

The film directed by Australian Justin Kurzel, brought to life the psychotic and delusional character of Macbeth, and will enable students to better understand how to write about the characters and themes in their forthcoming Controlled Assessment.

Macbeth trip 14th Oct #2 Macbeth trip 14th Oct #1 Macbeth trip 14th Oct #3

Lord of the Flies, Grand Opera House, September 2015

On Thursday 26th September, Year 12 went on a trip to the Grand Opera House in Belfast to see a live production of the classic novel, Lord of the Flies. I thought it was one of the best shows I have ever seen, even before it began!

As soon as I walked into the hall, the set immediately grabbed my attention. The huge life-like plane was incredible and also, the amount of the detail put into the “forest” was truly impressive.

The production was so unique in many ways, such as the modernisation of the context of the play incorporating today’s technology and social media into the script. It wasn’t like we were expecting it to be at all and I think that is partly why we all were in complete awe.

The sheer talent of all the cast was very well portrayed, especially during the second act where most characters had to be very dramatic. Their costumes and makeup were so meticulous and realistic, unsurprisingly.

As a drama student myself, I think it was really exciting and inspiring and it’s actually hard to put into words what the highlight even was. I highly recommend it as a production that everyone should go to see. I would even go a second time!

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Yr12 studetns at Lord of the Flies 1 Yr 12 students at Lord of the Flies 6

In September 2014 GCSE students enjoyed a trip to see the Newpoint Players’ production of GCSE literature drama text Juno and the Paycock in Newry.

In 2014 A2 students joined their peers from Lurgan College to watch King Lear in Love Coffee in Lurgan. The tragedy was somewhat lightened by a selection of nibbles and hot chocolate. We hope to repeat this experience next year.


The analytical and communication abilities (the ability to read, reflect, critique, synthesise and verbalise) that GCSE English Language and English Literature provide are transferable skills that are useful in all occupations and highly valued by universities and a range of non – degree specific graduate employers.

Studying English, English Literature and Journalism at GCSE and English Literature at A Level develops a range of vocational skills; consequently students of these disciplines find careers in a wide range of areas, such as: the arts, human resources, legal professions, leisure and tourism, management (public and private sector), marketing and public relations, the media, social work, teaching, theology.

Journalism enjoys close links with the BBC through BBC School Report. The annual visit of the BBC bus to the school allows students of Journalism to make and produce their own news, while affording them the opportunity to see how film crews and editing teams work behind the scenes.

school-report logo

» View School Report on BBC web site