The Lancing College English Department has two aims: to foster a love of reading and writing, and to ensure pupils write, read, speak and listen with a high degree of sophistication. Learning within the Department is designed to support students’ work across the curriculum, and to enrich their future personal, scholarly and professional lives.
Lancing’s English Department has a long, long tradition of success: we have high standards, and provide pupils with regular personalised feedback, but we also place a strong emphasis on enjoying English. Pupils are provided with manifold co-curricular opportunities to engage with literature and language including theatre trips, creative writing classes, poetry and essay competitions, workshops, reading groups, and literary excursions. In the last couple of years our pupils have competed in the national finals of Poetry by Heart and won awards in a number of short story and essay competitions, including the prestigious Thomas Campion English Prize.
The English Department is large, intellectually vibrant and ambitious, and its teachers frequently bring their own research enthusiasms into their teaching. In 2018 over 50% of our pupils achieved a Grade 7 (A Grade) or higher in both the English Language and English Literature IGCSEs; and at A Level around 75% of our pupils routinely achieve a B grade or higher, with around 20% of pupils achieving an A*. A significant number of our pupils go on to study English at Russell Group universities, and there are currently three OLs in their first or second year at Cambridge, with another graduate of the Lancing English Department in her second year at Hertford College, Oxford.
Dominic Harman, Head of English
OLs reading English at Oxbridge
Eunice Adeoyo (Handford 2016–2018) in her first year at King’s Cambridge: ‘The teachers at Lancing were instrumental during my application for English at Cambridge. I was encouraged to explore the areas of literature I most enjoyed, and challenged to investigate new ones. This gave me an excellent grounding in English and the confidence to talk intelligently and in detail about every question raised during my Cambridge interview. I had in-depth discussions with my English teachers about all the books, plays and poems on my personal statement and I was even encouraged to read and discuss literature in other languages such as the plays and poetry of Bertolt Brecht. The dedication from all the teachers who helped through the process is something I will forever be grateful for. Mr Harman gave up his Sundays to help me prepare for interviews, and several teachers in the English Department helped out with practice interviews. Cambridge is a really wonderful place to study English and I know I would not be here without the guidance of my teachers.’
Maude Cooper (Sankey’s 2012–2017), in her second year at Hertford, Oxford: ‘For me, Lancing was the perfect place to nurture my love of literature. It is in equal parts bizarre and touching how often I revert back to thinking of the texts that I studied there and associating them with particular teachers, times, friends and memories, from Priestley’s An Inspector Calls at GCSE (brought alive by Mrs Dugdale, who adopted different voices for each role!) to The Duchess of Malfi in the Upper Sixth Lancing’s Oxbridge preparation classes gave me the breadth and depth I needed to approach my interview at Hertford College: my joint interview with Mr Harman and Dr Herbert, which ranged from misogyny in early modern drama to homoeroticism in A Streetcar Named Desire, was daunting at the time but provided the perfect preparation for the real thing. English at Lancing prepared me for the type of study that Oxford encourages: chasing personal interests; nurturing a critical eye for detail; and mulling over new ideas with my teachers, who pushed me towards relevant texts. By writing frequent essays with set titles for my A Levels, I began to think quickly and adventurously about how to make well-trodden ground more fertile. The freedom of our coursework allowed me to take two texts that wouldn’t necessarily be taken together and explore my own agenda, in the full knowledge that I would be able to discuss this with the teachers if, and when, I needed to. This freedom gave me the confidence to tackle texts on my own terms, sharpening my critical insight, but, more importantly, encouraging me to take my interest in literature to the next degree.’
Cassandra Neathercoat (Field’s 2011–2016) in her second year at Homerton, Cambridge: ‘In retrospect, my love of literature makes my decision to study English at university seem rather obvious, but it was also in no small part due to the encouragement and influence of my teachers at Lancing. Not only were my English classes fun and stimulating, but I had so much help in developing my critical skills and receiving the necessary experience, that it made the whole application process so much less daunting. In particular, I found the advice I received for my ELAT exam* especially useful, as it seemed like a completely different style of analytical thinking and writing to what I had experienced with my A Levels. I also found the interview practice sessions so beneficial — whilst you can’t really ‘prepare’ for an interview, just being able to experience something similar beforehand made me feel a lot more confident and at ease when the time came. Applying for university is such a memorable and special experience, and I definitely found the preparation I received at Lancing made me enjoy it so much more!’
*Cassandra sat the Cambridge ELAT with approximately 700 other applicants; her essay was judged the 9th best in the entire cohort.