English at McGlashan is all about communicating and connecting. It’s about finding and nurturing a voice to tell our stories and developing an ear to hear the stories of others. Studying English and exploring these voices involves:

  • reading and writing
  • listening and speaking
  • viewing and presenting 

As you work up through the levels of English, the complexity and sophistication of the voices you will explore and use will increase and increase. This does not mean though, that you will do the same thing, year after year; we aim to provide variation between levels and increasing challenges; and move you towards an end point - which, for many, will be a starting point for tertiary study.   

What this means, is that we aim for students to become:


You will have had some exposure to the classics, including Shakespeare and varied text types (poetry, novel, film,short story, non-fiction - both short and extended). You will choose to read for pleasure and be open to new reading experiences. And also be an ‘artful reader’ with a developed and sophisticated understanding of the ways in which those who create texts shape the response of the reader.


We desire for you to question and challenge stereotypes and bigotry. You need to get into someone else’s skin and walk around for a bit.  Inherent within this is an understanding of New Zealand Aotearoa’s bicultural heritage, and an understanding the views and experiences of a ‘johnnies boy’ are but one of a myriad of ways to consider the human experience.   


You will have a healthy scepticism about towards information and, texts, especially electronic media and ideologies.  You will be able to  come to an independent understanding of ideas, texts, issues. On a personal level, You will recognise what you do well and think about how you can improve - you will become your own learning 'coach.'

Effective communicators

You will understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively across a range of forms. You will be a fluent, accurate and succinct/precise writers.  We wish you to be well prepared for tertiary education, the pathway for the majority of you - to be able to source appropriate supporting material and reference it correctly using the college's style - (Harvard).

Practical Matters

At the start of the year, course information is published.  This can be accessed by clicking above on course information or by consulting with your teacher.  This contains details of the topics studied during the year, assessment dates and policies as well as information about homework, organisation, stationery etc.  Please note that there might be some variation between classes when it comes to deadlines.  This is because teachers respond to the needs and circumstances of their class. One important deadline is the end of term three.  All internal assessment must be completed in terms one to three. There will be no assessment or re-assessment in term four.

Some units of work that may make up a typical English course at McGlashan may include:

  • novel study
  • creative writing
  • language study
  • film study
  • theme study (eg leadership, multiculturalism, facing a challenge)


Teachers spend time at the start of the year getting to know their students’ strengths and weaknesses and use this to plan which texts will suit the interests and needs of the students.

In Year 9, the boys study English with the aim of developing confidence in understanding, forming and expressing increasingly sophisticated ideas. In Year 10, these skills are further developed and students are introduced to Level 1 NCEA.  Full details are published in students’ course handbooks.

Beyond Year 10, there are different options for English: 

  • NCEA courses (Levels 1, 2 and 3)
  • Transitional English (Levels 2))
  • Scholarship English
  • IB English

The English Department also runs a series of competitions for the boys.  “Go McGlashan Read!” focuses on reading; the prepared reading competition and the formal speech competition focus on speaking and we also run a creative writing competition. As well as these activities, the English Department also looks after various extra-curricular events such as debating, speech competitions and writing competitions.  

David Schaumann
HoD English

Year 9 Prepared Speech Finals

Speech is power; speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Posted: Wednesday November 21, 2018

Year 10 Prepared Speech Finals

'If you can speak you can influence. If you can influence you can change lives.' Anonymous.

Posted: Tuesday September 25, 2018

Year 9 Prepared Reading Finals

The well-crafted words of Robert Muchamore, Rick Yancey and JK Rowling echoed throughout the Chapel during the recent Prepared Reading Finals.

Posted: Wednesday September 12, 2018

English Department Update

What might a day in the life of an English Student look like at John McGlashan College?

Posted: Friday August 10, 2018