Our youngest pupils learn the most common ways in which to write the 42 main sounds of English, alongside irregular ‘tricky words’, using the Jolly Phonics Programme. Regular practice is encouraged at home with word boxes and then with reading books. Regular spelling lessons, dictation and an introduction to the rules of grammar are covered using Jolly Grammar. In the Infant School pupils begin to learn how to write in a cursive script.
Creativity is inspired through the rich range of materials read to children through regular Literature and Read Aloud sessions, and the nurturing of a love of poetry. The Tales of Peter Rabbit, Winnie the Pooh, The Just So Stories and Charlotte’s Web are examples of classics that become wonderful friends, to enjoy and return to again and again.
In the Junior School, the English curriculum seeks to consolidate and build on the handwriting, writing, grammar, spelling and reading skills that were started in the Infant School. Separate Grammar, Spelling and Dictation lessons take place as part of English Language lessons each week as well as two general Writing lessons. Our choice of Literature texts are all classics which have stood the test of time. Pupils have a Literature text and a more contemporary Read Aloud read to them every term, meaning pupils enjoy 24 good books during their years in the Junior School. In Year 5 or 6 a Shakespeare play is studied and performed. We aim for students to leave Juniors equipped with good personal reading habits, a body of great literature that they have enjoyed, and with the ability to write in a variety of styles using a clear cursive script.
All Infant and Junior School classes memorise a poem every half-term, which is performed at an assembly for other pupils and for parents. Over seven years, pupils will, therefore, memorise more than 40 poems.
In the Senior School Language and Literature are taught separately allowing pupils to focus both on the mechanics of language and the ways in which writers use these building blocks to create their literary works.
In Language, emphasis is placed on spelling, grammar, punctuation and written expression. Language lessons also include the close reading of both fiction and non-fiction texts in order to encourage the retrieval and eventual use of information from the texts, which is a key skill for IGCSE Language.
In Literature, each year group studies a selection of core texts including Shakespearian drama, poetry and prose. A Read Aloud text is also enjoyed every term without critical analysis. Recitation of poetry is an important part of the curriculum and every term each class learns a poem to perform at assembly at the end of term. This Heritage tradition, on top of the focus upon poetry in the Infant and Junior Schools, has encouraged some of our current IGCSE pupils to take part in the national Poetry by Heart competition at both school and regional level.
The performance element of our drama study is important. Trips to the theatre are arranged throughout the school year to enrich the students’ appreciation and understanding of the plays. Our central location gives us access to many great performances locally and there is also an annual trip to The Globe Theatre in London, where the pupils take part in a lively and informative drama workshop.
We encourage our pupils to read for pleasure continually. Over the summer we provide some carefully chosen titles for each year group to choose from, so that they can broaden their reading experience.
The IGCSE syllabuses we follow are: Cambridge International Examinations First Language English (0500) and Cambridge International Examinations Literature (English) (0486).