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Coffs Harbour High School

Coffs Harbour High School

Excellence and Innovation in a Caring Environment

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English Department

Picture of the Jetty 

English Department

The English faculty at Coffs Harbour High School has highly skilled and experienced staff members who work cooperatively to provide students with a wide range of learning experiences to build their skills and confidence.





The English teaching team for 2018 is:-

Paula Madigan - Head Teacher, Technology Coordinator and Year 8 PIP Coordinator 

Susan Backhouse - Teacher (English and HISE)

Rachel Bennett - Teacher (English and HISE)

Justin Bullock - ESL Teacher

Simon Donald - Teacher (English and HISE)

Madge Hair - Teacher (English and Drama)

Deanne Ion - Teacher and  ESL Coordinator

Melinda Laverick - Teacher (English and HSIE)

Kai Lawson - Teacher (English and ESL)

Yasmin Maher - ESL Teacher

Kate Mahoney - Teacher (English)

Anika Montgomery - Teacher

Trina Neville - Teacher and Year 11 Student Adviser

Kate Pullinger - Teacher and LAST

Julie Roberts - Teacher

Kristin Vlasto - Teacher, "Get the Edge" Writing Mentor and Year 10 Student Adviser

Lara Wilkinson - Teacher (English and ESL)


In addition to teaching English and contributing to the school community through their whole school roles, the English staff is also instrumental in the promoting of public speaking, debating and literacy development within the school.


Years 7 – 10

Students in Years 7 -10 have commenced studying the new English Syllabus, which was implemented in 2014 across NSW. The new units are aimed to engage as well as challenge students through the exploration of key concepts and ideas as well as the examination of a variety of texts. We incorporate the "Seven Steps to Writing Success" across all years to help build students' writing skills across the persuasive, informative and imaginative formats.

You can access the 7-10 English Scope and Sequence on the relevant page.

You can access information about the Seven Steps to Writing Success on the Resources page.



All students, across all classes, have ONE formal, across the form, assessment task each term. They are given an Assessment Task Information Sheet that explains the task, gives them hints on how best to prepare and the marking criteria. Students will sometimes sit these tasks in class, after preparation and planning, while at other times they can be completed at home and handed in on the due date. Students are always given time in class to plan and draft but they are also expected to keeping working on their responses at home. We encourage students to submit drafts to their English teacher so they can gain valuable feedback on how best to improve their work before the final deadline.


There is at least one formal speech task each year and public speaking is an important aspect of English 7 -12 as well as for life outside school. All students are expected to present their speech in front of their class. We do understand that some students find public speaking challenging but it is important that they "have a go" in front of the whole class wherever possible.


Failure to complete assessment tasks on time can lead to a N-Award notification in Years 9 and 10. We encourage students to see their teacher before the due day if there are any difficulties so solutions can be found. It is important that students complete the task on the due date wherever possible. Late submission without a valid reason will incur a penalty. One day late will see students lose ½ a grade and if it is two days late they will lose a full grade. Three or more days late without a valid reason will result in an E grade but they will be expected to still attempt the task during a lunch-time detention.


Class Work and At Home Tasks

All students are expected to complete the class tasks set by their teacher. These tasks help prepare students for the assessment task and/or help build students' skills across areas not being assessed by the formal task.


As well, "At Home Tasks" across Years 7 to 10 will be given in some semesters depending on the unit and the assessment demands. These tasks include a choice of activities to cater for a range of skills and interests.


Years 11 and 12

Students can study at all levels of English at Coffs Harbour High School, from Extension 2 through to ESL. Students work with their teachers in Year 10 to best determine the level of English best suited to their skills, interests and career aspirations in Stage 6. Students can, however, move between levels during Year 11 in order to find the best fit. They cannot move to a new course, however, until any outstanding assessment tasks are completed at their current level of study.


Year 11 students must complete assessment tasks for each module studied as part of their course as well end of year exams in the Preliminary year. Year 12 students must also complete assessment tasks as well as exam style tasks including the Trial HSC examinations.


Extra - Curricular Opportunities

Excursions - We try to supplement what is happening in the classroom with appropriate, affordable excursions on occasion. These could include trips to the theatre and in-school performances. This year, we have already started organising an excursion to see Bell Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'. This excursion will be open to students 7 -10. 

Each year we enter state wide competitions in debating and public speaking. We have had great success in recent years, with debating teams being named Zone Champions and our public speakers heading to Sydney to compete in the State Semi Finals. Students are encouraged to approach their English Teacher if they would like to be involved.

Our keen and talented writers are also offered opportunities throughout the year. Last year, Ms Vlasto introduced the Jetty Flash Fiction Challenge which saw students from 7-10 present a multitude of fantastic stories from a range of genres. We will be offering this competition again in 2017. They can enter competitions, attend workshops and writing camps. Our students, in successive years, have been state finalists in the Somerset College National Novella Competition and won awards in the Patrick White Indigenous Writer Awards. Opportunities will be announced via the school's newsletter as well as in class.