English is at the heart of the educational and personal development of all pupils; Literacy skills and reading are key components of the curriculum throughout the school. We ensure each young person learns to read, both critically and for pleasure, across a wide spectrum of materials and media, and is able to express themselves accurately and coherently both on paper and orally. From the earliest mark making in Nursery to the greater depth of writing of our Year 8s, staff encourage pupils to apply themselves, read around subjects and to enjoy writing creatively.

Our young people write in a range of genres and contexts, for different purposes and audiences. We aim to equip our pupils to express opinions, articulate feelings and formulate appropriate responses to increasingly complex instructions. We ensure students can read a varied selection of texts, whilst gaining an increased level of fluency, accuracy, independence and understanding. Allied to these oral skills, emphasis is placed on the presentation of written work: forming letters correctly, leading to a fluent and legible handwriting style with pupils becoming increasingly aware of the basic conventions of writing, grammar, punctuation and spelling.

Our English teaching follows Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), is based on the National Curriculum requirements until Year 6 and then follows Common Entrance in Years 7 and 8, which prepares our pupils to perform well in entrance exams at 13+. By Years 6, 7 and 8 the general standard of independent creative writing shows greater depth understanding, mastery of vocabulary and literary devices, and is a joy to read.

Literary criticism is introduced early for pupils to engage with literature both as a reader and creative writer in preparation for senior school. Pupils begin with simple comprehension tasks, before more complex analysis techniques including inference and deduction are modelled and required. Formal work is illustrated and enlivened by a programme of visits to the theatre, visits from authors and writing workshops.

Drama is taught as an integral part of the English curriculum. The school enjoys collaborative work with Drama teachers from Riding Lights Theatre Company, both within school and in the school’s Youth Theatre Company as an afterschool activity.