We are very fortunate that English is the lingua franca of the world, too often taken for granted in our own country. We approach the teaching of English with rigour to ensure that the value of that gift is fully realised in our children. Our tasks in the English department are not only to develop the children’s skill and ability in the use of the English language, but also to foster a love and enjoyment of our rich linguistic and literary heritage.
The ability to communicate with clarity and precision, with facility and flexibility is a critical life skill - key to future employability and broader success. In everything we do, we constantly reinforce the basic skills of spelling, grammar and punctuation. We use the phonics-based spelling system throughout the school. This system puts the idiosyncrasies of English spelling into an order from which the children can make sense of its apparent randomness.
Nothing extends vocabulary and demonstrates use of language like reading. We have a light, comfortable and well-stocked library and take an active role in guiding children towards appropriate books. We promote new authors and novels with authors’ visits to the school and take groups to Cheltenham and other literary festivals. We celebrate World Book Day and National Poetry Day and have an annual visiting book fair.
The astonishing breadth, depth and cultural range of English as a literary language allows us to introduce a wide variety of contemporary and traditional texts to explore different genres and styles, and develop an understanding of theme, plot and character.
Every child from the beginning of Pre-Prep becomes accustomed to standing up and speaking in front of an audience, whether it is her form, his year group, the whole school or parents, grandparents and friends. We collaborate closely with the Drama department to promote creative writing, speaking and listening. The children perform plays, recite poetry, read lessons and prayers in chapel or church services. In Year 7 children take part in English Speaking Board exams. With these opportunities, the children develop confidence, poise and presence in expressing themselves.
Kate Blance, Head of English