English and Drama


I have spread my dreams under your feet,
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams (W.B. Yeats)

Studying English and Drama at R.B.A.I. is something rather special and the Department has a long tradition of excellence. Poets Michael Longley and Derek Mahon, novelist Forrest Reid and actors JonJo O’Neill and Niall Cusack are just five of our famous alumni that spent their formative years in the ‘W’ block.  Indeed, the former Head of English, Mr Frank Ormsby, is a celebrated poet and critic.

The Department

The Department consists of seven full-time teachers and two part-time teachers. As well as being responsible for all the extra-curricular activities within the English and Drama Department, members of the Department are also currently responsible for duties as diverse as PR, editing “School News”, Scouts, Badminton and Rugby and all contribute to the pastoral system of the school.


Full-Time Staff

Dr E. M. A. Bailie, B.A., M.A., M.Ed., P.G.C.H.E.T., P.G.C.E. (Head of English and Drama)

Mrs K. Gilmore, B.A., P.G.C.E. (Head of PR, Book Club and Tutor)

Ms Z. Huston, M.A., P.G.C.E. (Head of Media Studies, Badminton Club and Tutor)

Mrs K. McClean , B.A., P.G.C.E. (Drama, Tutor)

Mr S. McMillan, B.A., P.G.C.E. (Senior Housemaster, Editor of School News)

Mr R. G. Pattison, B.A., P.G.C.E. (Senior Housemaster, Director of Rugby)

Part-time Staff

Mrs G. Horner, BA (Hons), P.G.C.E. (Tutor)

Mrs V. H. McCord, B.A., P.G.C.E., Cert. P.D., M.Ed. (Tutor)

Mr I. Robb, B.A., P.G.C.E. (Tutor)

Mrs K. Walsh M.A., P.G.C.E. (Tutor)

Our Vision

The Department believes in a mixture of traditional and innovative teaching methods, and our primary concern is to get the very best out of the boys – a fact reflected in excellent grades at both GCSE and at AS/A2 Level. Perhaps more importantly though, we aim to instil in students a genuine curiosity and joy in reading and literature that will stay with them throughout their lives. The state-of-the-art Library is an excellent facility which works alongside the Department to encourage an enjoyment of reading in all boys. Together we celebrate Roald Dahl Day, National Poetry Day and World Book Day, as well as devising our own celebratory days such as C.S. Lewis Day. Teachers from other departments often lend their support to remind the boys that reading is for everyone. Every year we have a number of visiting authors. In recent years Joe Craig, Chris Bradford, Darren Shan, Robert Muchamore Alex Scarrow and Theresa Breslin have inspired our junior school pupils. For more information on our author visits please see the Library website.

English with Media Education and Drama at KS3

Year 8 and Year 9 are taught in a House System, in six sets of mixed ability.  On the basis of their progress in literary subjects, pupils currently enter banded sets in Year 10.  At the beginning of Year 11, the Department is able to stream the pupils, based on their performance in English during Year 10.  Continuity is observed between Years 11 and 12 as far as possible.

In the Junior School there is sustained emphasis on improving reading, writing and literacy. All Junior School classes have a Library period once a week, where they must all follow the highly successful Accelerated Reading programme (compulsory in Years 8 – 10). In June we hold a Celebrating Success in English and Drama awards ceremony in Christchurch, where parents are invited to come along and celebrate their son’s success.

Accelerated Reader proves that you actually read the book and it shows your understanding of it. I like moving up the levels and I like that it tells you your word count. (Year 8 pupil)

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Jonathon Brooks Year 10 – Outstanding Achievement Award

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Celebrating Success in English and Drama Awards 2016 – Mrs McCord announces the winners

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James and Peter Wallace (Year 8) with proud dad

Drama is also taught by specialists and non-specialists within the Department. In Year 8 two periods of Drama are timetabled and in Years 9 and 10 Drama is taught through English classes. A new Drama Studio has been created within the W Block, funded by a generous donation.

GCSE English Language, Literature and Drama

We are very proud of the fact that we are one of the few boys’ grammar schools to have retained English Literature as a core subject at GCSE (Mrs V. H McCord, Head of English and Drama)

All boys study both English Language and English Literature as far as GCSE, with all boys entering at the highest examination tier (CCEA.) The Department has had notable success in both subjects with boys achieving an A* to C grade at both English Language and Literature in virtually every instance.  GCSE Drama is also taught by members of the Dept.

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Year 11 pupils gain some creative writing tips from author David Gatward

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R.B.A.I. Drama students with pupils from V.C.B. at a Comedy Workshop in the Lyric Theatre

English Literature and Drama at AS/A2 Level

We have approximately 25 pupils every year who go on to study English Literature at AS/A2 Level. This year three pupils achieved A* grade at A2, with Jacob Baird achieving full uniform marks in both modules. Congratulations also to Cameron Hilditch who is reading English at Oxford University.

A’ Level pupils are given the opportunity to attend workshops and lectures at Q.U.B, Stranmillis and Jordanstown. AS/A2 Drama is taught through SBALC.


As a department we believe that English and Drama should not simply be restricted to the classroom. (Mrs V.H. McCord, Head of English and Drama)

A range of extra- curricular activities are run by members of the department. There is a senior school musical production every year in collaboration with Victoria College, directed and produced “in-house” by members of the English and Drama Dept. and Music Dept. Recent successes include: Grease, Hairspray and Little Shop of Horrors. This year’s production is The Sound of Music at the VCB Cranmore Campus. The Junior Drama Club meets once a week and puts on an annual Christmas play. In recent years the juniors have also collaborated with Bloomfield Collegiate and staged a full scale production of Aladdin and a Shakespeare showcase. Further collaborations are in the pipe-line, including another full scale production in 2017 at RBAI.

For the budding poets, novelists and playwrights, we have two creative writing groups. The junior group have recently participated in two writing projects with Q.U.B and the Linen Hall Library. Two pupils from the group - Solomon Trimble and Matthew McKay are now published writers in a new Anthology called On the Grass When I Arrive.

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RBAI and Strathearn pupils at a QUB writing workshop

Year 11 -14 pupils are also involved in a Creative Writers’ Network with several other local schools including M.C.B., St. Mary’s and St. Dominic’s. Through this network pupils have had the opportunity to attend writing retreats at the Arvon Foundation, senior pupils are encouraged to enter a variety of literary competitions including the Kennedy Poetry Prize and the Forrest Reid Creative Writing. Pupils are also encouraged to enter external competitions such as the Christopher Tower Poetry Competition. Senior pupil Gavin Murphy was recently runner up in the Poetry Aloud Competition.

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Gavin Murphy receives his prize as runner up in the Poetry Aloud Competition

English Literature – A Level results

Year Entries A B C D E
2016 23 5 (3A*) 2 9 7 0
2015 27 2 8 7 9 1
2014 25 1 5 11 8 0
2013 26 7 (4A*) 2 4 10 3


 English Literature – AS Level results

Year Entries A B C D E
2016 28 4 7 11 6 0
2015 27 6 9 9 3 0
2014 31 4 13 10 3 1
2013 26 3 7 12 4 0


English – GCSE Results 

Year Entries A* A B C D
2016 151 9 41 70 29 2
2015 149 6 44 66 31 2
2014 158 13 37 64 41 2
2013 150 3 49 51 39 8


English Literature – GCSE Results

Year Entries A* A B C D
2016 146 15 41 55 31 4
2015 148 7 45 63 30 2
2014 155 13 37 50 44 11
2013 147 8 27 70 34 8


Drama – GCSE Results

Year Entries A* A B C D


6 0 0 1 2 3


10 1 2 2 3 2


6 0 0 3 3 0