Through English, we seek to develop in our pupils an appreciation of the English language, be it in play, prose or poetic form. Texts are read, shared and discussed, with an increasing emphasis on analysis and literary criticism as pupils embark on the Common Entrance syllabus in Form II. We choose a range of authors, poets and playwrights to engender enjoyment as well as reflect a variety of genres and cultures.
Reading is treated as a priority, from the beginning in Form V and throughout the school. We have twenty minutes of independent reading after lunch every day, sometimes under the trees or by the lake as the weather permits. Every child will read aloud to their English teacher regularly and a log is kept to meet termly targets of personal reading. Our pupils are largely voracious readers and their enthusiasm when talking about books is infectious. Our school library is well-used, well-stocked and our librarian runs Book Clubs for junior and senior pupils.
Good readers tend to be good writers, but we do not rely on this alone. At every stage of their English education we place firm emphasis on the pupils’ need for accuracy: in choice of vocabulary, spelling, use of punctuation, grammar and organisation. Secure understanding of the technical tools of the subject allows pupils to write imaginatively and effectively; the best possible combination. We have an impeccable record of successfully getting children through Common Entrance to their chosen senior school.
We make use of iPads, the internet, interactive games and programmes to support learning and make it relevant to individual pupils. Although Drama is taught as a stand-alone subject, inevitably it is incorporated into English lessons, as are other practical activities such as writing poetry inspired by the school’s beautiful grounds on a summer’s day. For those who need additional one-to-one help, we have a highly qualified Learning Support Department with whom we liaise closely.
The Department is also involved in the extra-curricular side of school life; the annual House Debating competition takes place over two terms and is hotly contested in front of the whole school. Our Poetry Competition, which involves almost the whole school, is held each November with external adjudication and a fabulous presentation evening timed to coincide with Guy Fawkes night, the school bonfire and fireworks display. Pupils are encouraged to write for inter-school creative projects and competitions as well as national events such as Radio 2’s 500 Words.
Overall, we aim to provide enjoyment and stimulation throughout our lessons and to encourage a positive attitude and independent thinking in every aspect of the subject.
Click below to see our recommended reading lists by year group: