What a whirlwind of a year it has been for us in English. I have been so proud of how everyone has worked together this year. We have had debates, poetry competitions, Bell Shakespeare and Poetry in Action incursions, and let’s not forget those 13 weeks of remote learning!

The English faculty have been working tirelessly to engage students in everything from myths and legends in Year 7 to slam poetry in Year 10. Now students are finishing up the year making adverts in Year 8 and collaborative digital texts in Year 9. The 2021 Year 12 cohort signed out last week and we were sad to see them go, whilst Year 11s have recently been working hard on their first HSC task (that’s our holiday marking!).

For me personally, this is the end of my first year as Head Teacher English here at PHHS so thank you everyone for making me so welcome. On behalf of the entire English faculty, I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday and look forward to 2022 with you all.

A fond farewell to Kristy Smith who is moving up to Queensland and will be starting her new position as Deputy Principal at Runcorn State High School. We are sorry to farewell such a knowledgeable, passionate and caring member of our faculty.

Throughout the past four years, Mrs Smith has been tirelessly putting students first through both her role as Head Teacher Teaching and Learning and Head Teacher English. She will be missed but we wish her the very best for her new role!

Mrs Skeen – Head Teacher English

White Ribbon Poetry and Art Competition

The NSW Department of Education, as part of its role in promoting respectful relationships education in all schools, facilitated an Art and Poetry competition resulting in an exhibition, which officially opened on 7th December at Oran Park High School. The department’s program called Breaking the Silence, is breaking the silence around the topic of domestic violence.

One in four children are affected by domestic violence on a regular basis. The exhibition will allow students to express their feelings about this injustice in a positive and creative way. The exhibition will run from 7th December and will tour around NSW. It coincides with the United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence and Australia’s White Ribbon Day on Friday 19 November 2021.

Seven of our talented students had their work, either poetry or art, accepted into the exhibition. Montana Gatt and Zack Strkljevic, both from Year 8 had their poems displayed at the opening exhibition.

Our talented student, Arianne De La Vega, had her original artwork displayed as well (see below).

Our other poets will have their poetry displayed at the up-and-coming exhibitions, starting with NSW Parliament House in the city.

All the White Ribbon White Ribbon poems can be found here:White Ribbon Poems

Well done to all students who entered the competition! It is another step forward to break the silence on domestic violence.

Artist: Arianne De La Vega Original Painting Year 9

Year 7 overview

Year 7 have been happily immersed in the world of theatre and drama.

We enjoyed reading Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox, adapted for the stage by Sally Reid.

Students went on to compose some fabulous play scripts of their own! Year 7 have also bravely entered the world of William Shakespeare, learning all about London in the sixteenth century and the life and times of the great playwright.

Test their knowledge at home by asking abou which plays Shakespeare wrote and what it was like to visit the Globe Theatre

Pictured: 7ENC making their Globe Theatre models

Year 8 overview

Year 8 have had a busy semester, completing their unit on “The Beauty of Novels” via online learning and then starting with our “Masters of Persuasion – The Media and Advertising” unit shortly after returning to school.

After learning about persuasive devices, target audiences, and the visual and sound techniques used by advertisers, students have been enthusiastically constructing their own short commercials!

Pictured: Miss Jackson and Ms Li’s 8ENR students presenting their advertisement.

Watch Miss Shapiro 8ENP’s student advertisement; created by Montanna Gatt, Evelyn Jones and Anna Nikiforovat:


Mrs. Atkins’s Year 8 class enjoying reading outside


Year 9 overview 

Year 9 started the term looking at the weird and wonderful world of Tim Burton, where they watched and analysed “Edward Scissorhands” and “Vincent”.

They are now working their way through the digital text medium, focusing on cultural assumptions, values, and struggles in today’s society.

They are working away, creating their very own digital texts aiming to inform people about a modern cultural issue and inspire change.

Some popular topics have been the Black Lives Matter movement, focusing on the U.S. and the treatment of Indigenous Australians, casual racism, and LGBTQIIA+ culture.

Congratulations to the winners of our “Let’s Get Burtonesque” competition – James Copeland and Meisha Crawford!


Ms Prestige’s 9ENC students working in class:




Year 10 overview 

Year 10 have been working on Slam Poetry, exploring issues such as racism, identity and mental health as they analyse the work of various poet performers and construct their own work.

Mrs Skeen’s 10ENGA class recently constructed some “one-pagers”: a creative activity to help students process the key ideas of what they have read.

These combine visuals with text to make ideas come alive in students’ minds and memories.

10ENGA’s one-pagers

Year 12

Our new Year 12’s have been attacking the Common Module enthusiastically, particularly since returning to school.

Remote learning made for a challenging start, and our students have been working non-stop to absorb as much as they can before assessments were due during week 10.

Texts include the poetry of Kenneth Slessor, George Orwell’s 1984 and the work of acclaimed Indigenous poet and activist, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, attacked from both a critical and discursive perspective.

All this hard work will pay off in 2022!

English Extension 2 Crew have been working hard to develop their concepts for their Major Works.

Student Spotlight – Rhea Himmel

Rhea Himmel shines during Story Week – Australian Poetry Slam Youth Day

As part of the spoken word festival, run by Word Travels, one of our talented Year 12 students, Rhea Himmel was able to showcase her incredible talent during the workshop ‘Australian Poetry Slam Youth Day’ on 26 November.

During this workshop, Rhea was able to listen to spoken word performances and compose her own poem. Rhea performed her poem, and it was chosen to be read aloud at the Australian Poetry Slam National Final at the Customs House in Sydney.

This was an incredible platform for her to be recognised among some of the best slam poets in NSW.

Miss Rose Shapiro & English Faculty