Short Stories and Novellas


Course Length: Full academic year (30 weeks)
This Year's ScheduleClick here to view

Aims of the Course

The main aims of this course are to introduce students to short stories from a wide range of authors, from classics from Somerset Maugham, O Henr, Twain and Kipling, to modern authors such as Raymond Bradbury and Kit de Waal. Short stories offer a bite size way of exploring a marvellous range of genre and classic authors. They are engaging, offering an open door to highly crafted texts, so students can jump right into the nuts and bolts of great literature and develop valuable skills in close reading  before they are asked to perform close readings in the (much larger) space of a novel.. Their length is great for building confidence to tackle longer works in the future. Short stories are also great family reads.

The length of the works means lessons can be scaffolded to support students with specific learning needs, or those who find longer text overwhelming at this stage. They are short enough to encourage re-reading and mastery of the text.

Homework Expectations

As in all the English courses at Dreaming Spiresthe homework each week is to read one short story, or manageable section of a longer story. From this they will write a short summary, answer one discussion question based on a selected passage, and attend a one-hour webinar where, mostly, the tutor talks on the mic and students type in the chatbox. Twice a year, they will be assigned presentations to take over some of the teaching.

Add-On Options

The add-on writing extension for this course uses our main texts and offers the building blocks many forms of transactional writing. These include building a sound base identifying key facts for summary writing, journals, reports, interviews and magazine articles and descriptive writing techniques - all transactional found on the Cambridge GCSE -  with a focus on building reading and writing skills for a solid foundation in English language and literature study. 

How It Supports Your Child's Education

For UK students and others doing UK-style IGCSE exams, or US students starting their high school English credits, the main course with add-on writing create invaluable foundations in mature reading skills, critical thinking, and written expression. 

For US students, this course provides one credit in high school English. Short stories would be a good choice for those who do not feel ready to embark on longer texts just yet. The texts are accessible, most of which are free online and many of which are available audio files, or are short enough to be read out loud in one sitting.


Who Teaches Short Stories and Novellas?

Jenny Wells has a wealth of expertise and academic rigor: with a degree in History of Art and English from the University of York, as well as an MA from the Open University, she possesses a deep understanding of interdisciplinary studies and visual culture. Drawing from over fourteen years of teaching experience at an independent Oxford sixth form college, Jenny has instructed students in History of Art, Film Studies and English GCSE and A Levels, and has served as an A level examiner for History of Art. Her dedication extends to supporting students with specific learning needs, reflecting her commitment to inclusive education. Having been a homeschooling parent herself, Jenny understands the importance of fostering creativity and critical thinking skills as part of a holistic approach to educating. See all courses taught by Jenny