The English Department seeks to fire the imagination of pupils through our exciting exploration of a wide range of texts, ranging from classics such as the plays of Shakespeare, the poetry of Chaucer and the fables of Aesop, to modern works of fiction, journalism, graphic novels and cinematography.
Learning is as kinaesthetic as possible: pupils often take to their feet in a bid to truly understand new concepts, demonstrate their learning in different ways, teach each other, develop teamwork skills, examine issues from a different perspective and build confidence.
Our regular debates on contemporary issues, declamations, presentations and class discussions all combine to strengthen powers of articulation and critical thinking. Form 6 pupils also benefit from the experience of preparing for an English Speaking Board exam, while there are annual, upper-school poetry competitions and other whole-school speaking events (such as the mock general election we staged last year).
Pupils are also expected to take responsibility for the quality of the written work that they produce; each student is entrusted with an “emerald sword” (also known more prosaically as a green pen!) with which they must “vanquish verbal demons” on the page as they proofread, as well as paying attention to handwriting and paragraphing. As children progress through the school, they are encouraged to critically consider the lexical and syntactic choices they make on the page, and to experiment with new possibilities. Communication between staff at all levels of the schools is strong, ensuring continuity and progression in the areas of comprehension, handwriting, spelling, grammar, punctuation and reading.
Reading is promoted not only through English lessons and weekly independent reading time in our newly renovated library, but also through World Book Day, book fairs, theatre trips, in-house workshops and visits, Form 8 librarians who recommend titles to the younger children (as well as each other) and various competitions throughout the year.
Moreover, our focus on critical analysis not only deepens pupils’ reading skills and prepares them for senior school entrance / scholarship assessments, but also sharpens the mind and allows our young people to view the culture in which we live through a different lens (for example, our critical study of advertising techniques in Form 8 allows children to look at the means by which consumer culture persuades us to ‘buy into’ certain brands - and even ideologies /stereotypes).
Our aim, ultimately, is to teach children to actively think and get involved - to examine and explore, to question and challenge, to experiment and evaluate, to voice their own opinions and empathise with others – while having a great deal of fun and laughter along the way!