In the English Department, we recognise and build on the existing language competencies of our students. To develop language competency and to enrich the experience of our students, English teachers organise many extension activities. All classes are provided with a stimulating and challenging programme of work; however, other arrangements are also made to cater for students with particular needs.

In Years 9 and 10, very able students are selected on the basis of performance and teacher recommendation to form extension classes. In Year 9, students are also able to choose Creative Writing as one of their options.

Excursions, and Visiting Speakers and Performers

Each year, poets, novelists, performing artists and a variety of speakers provide enjoyable and thought-provoking experiences for our students.

Creative Writing and Competitions

Creative writing flourishes in all year groups at St Mary's. It is fostered in class and our students submit wonderful poems and short stories to The West Australian Young Writers Contest with great success. Each year we have many finalists and prize winners, and have developed quite a reputation for the abilities of our students. We are proud of this sustained level of achievement for outstanding creative writing which reflects the talent of our students and the encouragement and commitment of the English Department.

Students from all years with a special interest in writing participate in ongoing creative writing workshops aimed at inspiring their 'inner writer' by developing their talents and giving them insights into the lives of successful Australian writers. Here they are encouraged to craft work for some of the competitions which arise throughout the year and they may even be published.

Heywood Poetry Prize

In 2002, John Kinsella most generously endowed an annual poetry prize (named in honour of his mother and aunt) to be awarded to a Year 12 student, who has shown talent and commitment to the craft of poetry. It is a wonderful encouragement and recognition of the work of our students.

SCRAM

The Schools Conflict Resolution and Mediation competition (an initiative of West Australian Dispute Resolution Association supported and administered by Edith Cowan University's Faculty of Business and Law), is an interactive role play competition for Year 9 and 10 high school students that facilitates the development of peaceful dispute resolution awareness and skills in secondary school communities. Students mediate simulated disputes which relate to their everyday lives. In only our third year of competition, it was great to see the St Mary's team take away the Grand Final in 2011.

SmARTS

This programme is offered to Year 11 students, who work in groups with students from other schools on a research project as an initiative of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Western Australia. The SmARTS programme combines conventional tutorial work at UWA with online discussion and project planning. It is designed to enrich skills in collaborative research, independent problem-solving, online communication, and written and oral presentation.