(extra material for now)

Vision & values

See our Wikispaces site for fullest info.

Language is at the heart of learning and the English department.

Through literature-based and thematic units, English enables pupils to explore ideas and issues relevant to the world we live in today. Increasingly, English offers pupils the opportunity to engage with media texts, which are so much part of modern society. As they study a variety of literary and media texts, so they increase their understanding and appreciation of the writer's or film-maker's craft.

In addition, the study of literature and media texts allows pupils to access the experiences and ideas of others, engaging imaginatively with characters, societies and times that go beyond their own experience. Literature and film can also help promote awareness and understanding of other cultures, developing students' sensibilities as global citizens, as well as encouraging independent, critical thinking, thus widening their understanding and contributing to their own intellectual, emotional, social and personal development.

Finally, English is a skills-based subject, which has a special role in developing our pupils' Literacy skills in Reading, Writing, Talking and Listening.

English also aims to increase interdisciplinary links with other subject areas, including Numeracy and Health & Wellbeing.


  • To enable pupils to engage with literary and media texts
  • To encourage pupils to think, reflect and explore
  • To develop pupils' communication and literacy skills
  • To develop pupils' critical skills of analysis and evaluation
  • To encourage pupils' intellectual, social and personal growth
  • To give pupils appropriate levels of challenge and support
  • To encourage pupils to take responsibility for their own learning
  • To develop each individual pupil's potential


CfE and English

By its very nature English is well placed to cater for the four CfE capacities:

  • Successful Learners
  • Confident individuals
  • Effective Contributors
  • Responsible Citizens

All pupils engage with relevant themes and ideas of importance through reading, discussing and viewing, as well as creating their own texts. Pupils also have opportunities to develop interpersonal skills by working co-operatively in groups, creating texts in a variety of media.

S1 CfE course

The S1 CfE course will cover the Es and Os for English and Literacy, continuing to focus on the four modes of Reading, Writing, Talking and Listening. There will be an increased emphasis on active learning and media texts, as well as traditional literary texts.

S2 5-14 course

Pupils currently in S2 will complete their 2 year course. From 2011 onwards S2 and S3 courses will follow the CfE timeline for implementation, so that the S1 cohort of 2010 will continue with an S2 CfE course, and so on, as they move forward in English.

Standard Grade English (S3 & S4)

This very successful course, allowing all pupils to reach their potential, continues for current S2-S4 classes. The variety of texts studied now includes film, so pupils experience drama, prose, poetry and media texts during their two year course. S Grade continues to develop the skills of Reading (both Close Reading and Critical Responses to texts); Writing (producing texts in a variety of genre); and Talking (Individual Talk and Group Discussion).

NQ English (S5 & S6)

English offers Intermediate and Higher in S5 with Advanced Higher in S6.

The Intermediate and Higher courses comprise two units: Language and Literature. The Language Unit develops pupils' Close Reading skills of understanding, analysis and evaluation; pupils' Writing skills are also developed to a higher level. In the Literature Unit pupils engage with fiction and non-fiction texts of increased complexity. Critical thinking skills – the ability to analyse and evaluate texts – also mature.

AH has 2 mandatory units, Specialist Study and Literary Study, plus one optional unit, either Creative Writing or Textual Analysis. These units continue to build on pupils' prior learning.

NQ Media Studies
Media Studies is offered as a discrete discipline in the senior school at Intermediate 2 and Higher. The course is based on Film. A week to week breakdown of the course including all notes, powerpoints and some clips can be found at https://film-course.wikispaces.com/
Students will analyse the still image and film posters before studying fiction and non fiction films. This develops pupils' understanding and appreciation of the film-maker's craft as well as allowing them to apply their knowledge by creating their own collaborative short films. Past examples of students’ short films can be seen on http://www.youtube.com/user/mth0rnt0n (If you have difficulties, please copy and paste this link into the address bar of your browser).


The English department at PHS is a large department with accommodation in the Millennium Wing. As well as ten standard classrooms, all fitted with digital projectors, there is an Advanced Higher tutorial room and a small Media Studies editing suite.

ICT is central in modern English teaching: to facilitate the study of film and drama; to enable pupils to carry out research, to support the creation of different kinds of texts; for interactive learning; to support the redrafting process, and so on.

Several teachers also have their own English and Media wiki spaces, which allow online posting of homework tasks, support materials and links to useful websites.

As GLOW develops further it will provide additional opportunities.

Extended learning opportunities

A wide range of extra curricular opportunities is offered to enrich pupils' learning experience:


  • theatre visits
  • visiting writers
  • public speaking
  • creative writing workshops
  • drama workshops
  • film-making workshops
  • film education days at the Edinburgh International Film Festival
  • Shakespeare trip to Stratford-upon-Avon


Here is a list of books you might enjoy. They have been given a star system to help you make your decision. Three stars books are the most challenging reads.

In case you are interested in a particular genre/ subject, books have been organised under headings. Most titles are available in the LRC, but you can choose books from home as well. Remember reading is fun so try something new!! Remember, there are also recommendations available in the LRC.

Racial Prejudice

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Maya Angelou**
If you like stories about real people this is for you. You learn about Maya's life growing up in America when life for black African Americans was very difficult. Moving at times but also very funny.

To Kill a Mocking Bird Harper Lee ***

The Chocolate War Robert Cormier **

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry Mildred Taylor **

Small Island Andrea Levy *
An excellent novel told from the point of view of four very different characters whose lives are all closely involved.

Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain **

Uncle Tom's Cabin H B Stowe *

Black Boy R Wright *

The Color Purple AliceWalker ***
A very disturbing novel about Celie's life and the problems she has to overcome. A novel to really make you think. One that has been recommended by many pupils.


The Thirty Nine Steps John Buchan **
Set in London and the Scottish Borders, a fast paced adventure novel where Richard Hannay has to defend Britain against spies. A short but exciting novel!

The Blue Ice Hammond Innes *
Bill Gansert tries to understand the mystery of two lines of quotations and a lump of mineral ore. He is caught up in ambition and treachery and has to survive in Norway's glacier country. A chilly but fast moving novel.
Other titles: The Angry Mountain, The Lonely Skier, The Trojan Horse and many others all equally thrilling.

The Spy who Came in from the Cold  John Le Carr **

Where Eagles Dare Alistair MacLean *
A handful of British agents invade a Gestapo command post which is supposed to be “impenetrable”.
Other great adventures: Ice Station Zebra, The Guns of Navarone

Around the World in Eighty Days Jules Verne **

The Odessa File Frederick Forsyth **

The Mosquito Coast Paul Theroux **

Gulf Robert Westall *
Figgis has an uncanny power…He feels things that are happening thousands of miles away to people he has never met. When the Gulf crisis starts, Latif, a young Iraqi soldier, enters Figgis's life. How can his brother Tom prevent Figgis from suffering the fate of Latif?

Black and Blue Ian Rankin ***

The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown **
A page turner!


Watership Down Richard Adams **
On the  surface, a tale of a rabbit community, but in reality dealing with much deeper issues such as death and power.
Another possible title: The Plague Dogs

My Family and Other Animals Gerald Durrell *

Ring of Bright Water Gavin Maxwell *

Martin the Warrior.Brian Jacques **
Set in the world of Redwall Abbey, a fantasy tale of animals. The heroes are peace loving mice, moles, shrews, squirrels and their friends, who face the dark side of the animal world in a struggle of good versus evil.

Science Fiction/Fantasy

Fahrenheit 451Ray Bradbury **
For those who prefer a shorter text, Ray Bradbury has written various collections of short stories.

2001: a space odyssey Arthur C Clarke ***

Red Shift Alan Garner **
A challenging read, part contemporary love story, part myth and fantasy. The story shifts between Roman Britain, the Civil War and present day Britain.
Other titles include The Owl Service, The Weird Stone of Brisingamen, Elidor

The Chrysalids John Wyndham **
After a nuclear war, people, animals, crops, anything considered an abomination, have to be destroyed. If you are different, how can you survive? A novel that makes you think about the nature of prejudice and what it is like to be an outcast.
Other interesting titles: The Kraken Wakes, The Day of the Triffids, The Midwich Cuckoos.

Z For Zachariah Robert O'Brien **           
After an outbreak of nuclear war, two young brothers have to find a way of rebuilding their lives. A story of courage and bravery.

The Time Machine, The Invisible Man H G Wells ***

I, Robot Isaac Asimov **   
He has written many books on this topic, and of course, there has been the recent Will Smith film.

1984 George Orwell ***

The Lord of the Rings JRR Tolkien ***

Journey to the Centre of the Earth Jules Verne **

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams **
Arthur Dent is catapulted into a chaotic world of aliens when the Vogon Fleet demolish earth to make way for an intergalactic highway. A very funny read!
Others in the series: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, So Long and Thanks for all the Fish.

Waylander David Gemmel *
Heroic fantasy, with lots of swords and sorcery!

Northern Lights Phillip Pullman *
It is the first novel of the trilogy set in a parallel world to ours. Lyra, the main character, goes on an adventure to find her father, meeting some new friends along the way but she gets a nasty surprise when she reaches the North Pole. The book after this is The Subtle Knife and then The Amber Spyglass.

Earthsea Trilogy Ursula le Guinn **
A young wizard, Sparhawk, discovers his powers but releases a terrible evil at the same time. Only he can defeat it, at a terrible cost. If you like Harry Potter, this will take you into an even darker world.

The Dragons of Pern Series Anne MacAffrey *

Mort Terry Pratchett *
Set in a world carried through space on the back of four giant elephants on a turtle's back, young Mort becomes Death's apprentice. The humour and the comical style make this an entertaining read.
If you enjoy this, there is a large selection of novels to choose from by this author.

Artemis Fowl Series Eoin Colfer *

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder *
Tales from the popular television series.


The Big Sleep Raymond Chandler ***
One of the first typical American private eyes – cynical, determined, but not always following the rules.

The Name of the Rose Umberto Eco ***

Laidlaw William McIlvaney **/***
The detective inspector finds that police work in Glasgow involves him almost as much in social problems as in police work.
Another possibility: The Papers of Tony Veitch

Original Sin P D James **
Adam Dalgleish and his team are confronted with a shocking murder in a publishing house. They have to track down a ruthless and cunning killer.
Other titles which might be of interest are Cover her Face, Shroud for a Nightingale, Death of an Expert Witness

Sherlock Holmes Stories Arthur Conan Doyle **

Body of Evidence Patricia Cornwell **
Kay Scarpetta, medical examiner in Virginia, has many of difficult cases to solve.
Other titles in the series include: Post Mortem, The Last Precinct, Black Notice

Dead Lagoon Michael Dibdin ***
Detective Aurelio Zen returns to his native Venice to investigate the disappearance of a rich American resident but soon realises there are far more disturbing forces at work. He is also forced to confront a series of disturbing revelations about his own life.

Black and Blue Ian Rankin **
One of the Inspector Rebus crime novels, this is a darkly complex and gripping thriller, set in modern Scotland

And Then there was One Agatha Christie *

True Life Adventure

Touching the Void Joe Simpson *
A story of awesome determination to survive against impossible odds in the icy mountains.

Bravo Two Zero Andy McNab */**
The story of what happened when McNab was shot down was shot down in the Gulf War.

The One that got Away Chris Ryan *
A description of Ryan's adventures as a soldier in Iraq.

Born Free Joy Adamson *
If you are interested in lions or Africa, then this is the book for you to find out how Joy Adamson “adopted” three lion cubs, and how her relationship with one continued after she released it into the wild.

Look Behind the Range Hamish MacInnes */**
A must if you are interested in climbing!

An Evil Cradling Brian Keenan **/***
An account of being held hostage for several years in Beirut. How would you survive in such conditions?

Notes from a Small Island Bill Bryson *

Angela's Ashes Frank McCourt **
Set in Ireland, follow Frank as he grows up in a life of poverty. McCourt attacks the church, and looks at relationships in a family.

Shoes Were for Sundays (Autobiographical) Molly Weir **

The Diary of Anne Frank *
The diary of a thirteen year old girl who spent her life in a secret room behind a bookcase, hiding from the German soldiers in Holland during World War Two.

Love and Romance

Rebecca Daphne du Maurier **       
The novel with the most well know first sentence in the history of romantic writing! Not a slushy story but everyone wants to find of what happened to Rebecca. Who really killed her? Will the same thing happen to the second Mrs de Winters?

Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell ***

A Kind of Loving Stan Barstow *

Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte **           
A classical but thrilling read. Full of fires, madness and bigamy.

Wide Sargasso Sea Jean Rhys ***               
If you enjoyed Jane Eyre and want to fill in the gaps regarding Mr Rochester's mad wife, this is a must.

Love for Lydia, Fair Stood the Wind for France H E Bates **

Sons and Lovers, Women in Love D H Lawrence ***

Lost and Found Valerie Mendes *
Deals with issues from every day life, including teenage pregnancy.

The English Patient Michael Ondaajte ***

A Passage to India E M Forster ***

Emma Jane Austen **
Emma Woodhouse knows her own mind and that of everyone else… she thinks! She's so busy sorting out the lives of everyone else, that she doesn't see the perfect man right in front of her nose.
Other great titles include: Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey

Tender is the Night, The Great Gatsby Scott Fitzgerald ***

Captain Corelli's Mandolin Louis de Bernières **

Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte ***

P.S I Love You Cecilia Aherne **
The story of a young woman who has to deal with the death of her husband at a young age. Even though he is not there, he leaves notes that set her goals to try to get her back on track.


Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde R L Stevenson **
The struggle of a man to reconcile his good and evil sides.

Dracula Bram Stoker ***
The classic vampire novel that spawned all the imitations!

Frankenstein Mary Shelley ***
Much better and more sinister than the films!

Scottish Fiction

Kidnapped R L Stevenson *
A classic adventure novel.
Also available:Treasure Island

The Cone Gatherers, The Changeling, Just Duffy Robin Jenkins **     

Consider the Lilies Iain Crichton Smith **

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Muriel Spark **
A manipulative and controlling teacher is betrayed by her favourite pupil!

Its Colours They Are Fine, The Magic Flute Alan Spence **

Greenvoe George Mackay Brown ***

A Scots Quair Lewis Grassic Gibbon ***

Trumpet Jackie Kay **
Set in the jazz world of the 1930s, a boy discovers that his father was actually a woman! Kay has also written poems which are collected together in The Adoption Papers

Docherty William McIlvaney **

A White Bird PassesAnother Time, Another Place Jessie Kesson **

No Mean City McArthur and Long  */**

Ecstasy Irvine Welsh ***
A look at the seedy world of the Edinburgh drugs scene. A disturbing and graphic read.
Similarly disturbing is Trainspotting.

The Trick is to Keep Breathing, Foreign Parts Janice Galloway **/***

Behind the Scenes, at the Museum Kate Atkinson **
One of the best twists ever!
Also available: Human Croquet, Case Histories

Cal Bernard McLaverty **
Set in Northern Ireland, this is a tale of a confused boy who becomes embroiled in the dangerous world of the IRA and has to deal with the consequences of his actions.
Another title: Lamb

The Ghost Road Pat Barker **/***
A novel set in World War One following various soldiers and looking at thee horrors of war. Can be very graphic and traumatic at times as psychologists struggle to discover the way the human mind works. The Eye in the Door and Regeneration complete the trilogy.

So I Am Glad A L Kennedy ***   

The Crow Road, The Wasp Factory Iain Banks **/***

Football and Other Sports

Managing: My Life Alec Ferguson **

Roy Keane Roy Keane **
A no holds barred account of life in football. Strong Language, so check at home.

Tiger Woods *

The Thistle and the Grail Robin Jenkins **
An enthralling novel about an amateur football team who are passionate about the game

Fever Pitch Nick Hornby *
A very funny novel based on Hornby's own life as an obsessive football fan.

The Drums of Anfield Mark Frankland *
A novel about a football team captain who discovers a boy of amazing talent in Africa.

David Beckham *

Martin Johnstone *

It's not about the Bike Lance Armstrong *

The Aberdeen Story Dave MacDermid *

General Fiction

The Country Girls Trilogy Edna O'Brien *

A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess *****
A five star really difficult novel. A dangerous thug is used as a guinea pig as scientists try to make him conform to society's rules.

The Millstone Margaret Drabble **

The French Lieutenant's Woman, The Collector John Fowles **/***

The Snow Goose and Stories Paul Gallico *

Lord of the Flies William Golding ***

A disturbing novel about what happens when there are no rules.

Far from the Madding Crowd, Tess of the D'Ubervilles Thomas Hardy ***

The Go-Between L P Hartley ***

The Woman in Black, Air and Angels Susan Hill **/*

The Catcher in the Rye J D Salinger **/***
A funny but poignant novel, about a boy who doesn't conform.

Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh ***

David Copperfield, Bleak House, A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens ***

The Barrytown Trilogy Roddy Doyle *
Also available: Paddy Clarke Ha, Ha, Ha, The Woman who Walked into Doors

Fried Green Tomatoes Fanny Flagg */**
A “whodunit” in diary form.

Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin Margaret Atwood ***

The Stone Diaries, Larry's Party, Unless Carol Shields **

The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy ***
A novel dealing with the Indian caste system and the nature of love.

Bridget Jones's Diary Helen Fielding *
If you enjoyed the film, you'll love the novel. And if you haven't seen the film, you have a treat in store!

Homecoming, Dicey's Song Cynthia Voight *

Madame Doubtfire Anne Fine *
A dad, desperate to be with his children, tries to pass himself off as their nanny.

Stone Cold Robert Swindells *

The Pilot's Wife, Fortune's Rock Anita Shreve **

Lovely Bones Alice Sebold
A great favourite. Written from the point of view of a girl who has been murdered.

High Fidelity, About a Boy Nick Hornby *
Two humorous novels about music, finding a girlfriend and life in general.

Chocolat Joanne Harris *
A mysterious woman arrives in a small French village, with tempting chocolate and stories, which have dire consequences.
Also available: Blackberry Wine, Five Quarters of an Orange

Postcards, Shipping News Annie Proulx **

Like Water for Chocolate Laura Esquirel **
Set in Mexico, this is fantasy about love and food!

Skellig David Almond *

The Diary of Adrian Mole aged13¾ Sue Townsend *
A very funny diary of a young boy's adolescent fears about his spots and his unrequited love for Cassandra.

Birdsong Sebastian Faulks ***
A novel set during the First World War describing its horrors and aftermath.
Also available, and easier reads: Charlotte Gray, The Girl at the Lion d'Or

Chinese Princess Adeline Yen Mah

These titles are only suggestions of books that have been enjoyed. Choose the ones which most appeal to you, or visit the LRC, your local library or book shops for more ideas.  You could also visit the following website for suggestions and other people's opinions: