Mrs K V Millar (Head of Department)
Ms C Bowman-Kinnear
Mrs C C Dorman
Mrs L R Graham (Part-Time)
Miss E Jenkinson
Ms C Patterson
Mrs R J Trainor


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.

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.


 Winning class of the Accelerated Reading Competition


Kids Lit Quiz  



Author visit for KS3 –The Poetry Bloke; Craig Bradley


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 as well as developing their performance and production skills. Students are introduced to a range of genres and experience of wide variety of roles.  Students are encouraged to extend their knowledge of production skills required to create a final production, beginning with set and costume design sketches. Students gain confidence in presentation, develop Working Together and have many opportunities to work creatively.

In 2008, the Drama Theatre was refurbished, enabling students to work in a stimulating environment, with full technical resources at their disposal.  Drama is now firmly established as a subject choice for study at GCSE and A Level.

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.

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. 

Photos taken at the Creative Writing Club


GCSE Drama

GCSE Drama


GCSE Drama


Junior Drama


Senior Drama



 English 001    Library mentors





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 host writers from the Ards Arts Festival on an annual basis. We also bring writers and performers into school for all year groups on a regular basis. Most recently we were privileged to host the famous Irish writer Bernard MacLaverty.

We have a thriving Creative Writing Club and we have regular 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 and several pupils will attend this year also. 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 Mrs Hutchinson, who coordinates competition entries and hosts the annual house Public Speaking Competition. 

A thriving Junior Drama club meets throughout the year, led by Mrs Trainor with the assistance of Sixth Form Students. Every other year, Junior Students produce a play, usually in the Autumn Term. Pupils successfully performed ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ in December 2014. In the alternate year, the production is cast from Senior students. Our senior production in 2013 was ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ by Oscar Wilde, staged at the Manor House at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.  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 40% and controlled assessment worth 60%. 

Course Content:
External Assessment/Examination - pupils will sit two papers, worth a total of 40%       

Controlled Assessment is a core component of this subject. It is 60% 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 75% and controlled assessment worth 25%.

Course Content
External Assessment/Examination - there are two terminal examinations, which are worth 75% of the pupil’s final mark.

Controlled Assessment is worth 25% of the pupil’s final mark.  Pupils will be assessed on their written response based on two texts; one Drama text and one Prose text.

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: CCEA
Course Content:            
This GCSE course follows CCEA’s revised 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.

Controlled Assessment: 60% of the course is assessed through two controlled assessment tasks. There are two controlled assessment tasks, each worth 30%. These are assessed by the teacher and moderated by an external moderator.

Examination:  40% of the course is assessed by written examination at the end of the course. The examination is based on close study of two published plays.

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 Drama:

  • One coursework assignment based on the Shakespeare play ‘The Tempest’
  • A second coursework assignment based on two plays by modern playwright Tennessee Williams; ‘The Glass Menagerie’ and ‘A Streetcar Named Desire

AS Module 2 The Study of Poetry (post -1800) and the Study of Prose 1800-1945

  • Compare and contrast the work of two poets – Thomas/Frost Open Book Examination
  • Write on one novel  - F.Scott Fitzgerald, ‘The Great Gatsby’ - Closed Book Examination  

The A Level modules are as follows:

A2 Module 1 The Study of Poetry (1300-1800) and Drama: Examination

  • One poetry text studied – Metaphysical poet; Donne. The poem or extract focused on in the examination will be provided in the paper
  • Students will read a set of paired texts and compare/contrast them in the examination – Shakespeare; ’King Lear’ & S.Heaney; ’Burial at Thebes’ - Closed Book

A2 Module 2 The Study of Prose: theme based; Examination

  • Close analysis of an extract from a post-1990 novel studied over the A Level year – R.Doyle; ’Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha’ Extract Provided Comparing two novels on the same theme – J.G.Ballard; ’Empire of the Sun’ and M.Twain; ’Huck Finn’- CLOSED BOOK

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

GCE Drama and Theatre Arts

Examination Board: AQA
Course Content:
AS Units:
Unit 1: Live Theatre Production Seen and a Prescribed Play (Written Paper) – 30%
Unit 2: Presentation of an Extract from a Published Play (Practical) – 20%

A2 Units:
Unit 3: The Study of two Prescribed Plays (Written Paper) – 30%
Unit 4: Presentation of Devised Drama (Practical) – 20%

Coursework: Unit 2 (AS) and Unit 4 (A2) are both assessed through performance during the course, each are worth 20% of the final mark. These performances will take place during the Spring Term.

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


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 one written assignment 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.

Contact us

Sullivan Upper School
Belfast Road
BT18 9EP