We live in a world of words. At the Prep, we explore language and literature in creative ways through texts, drama, media and discussion. We help pupils develop fluency in language to become effective communicators for a variety of purposes, and we aim to ignite a lifelong love of the rich cultural tapestry of literature and drama.
Pupils develop the confidence and skills to express themselves clearly on the page and in spoken form, along with the ability to interpret and analyse the world they encounter around them. We encourage a love of English and of storytelling as well as an appreciation of a range of authors and playwrights – from Shakespeare to Morpurgo, from Chaucer to Roald Dahl, and many others.
Our English curriculum provides a rich and stimulating language environment, where speaking, listening, reading and writing are integrated through the study of whole texts.
- Learning journey
Pupils begin with simple comprehension and consolidating the basics of good written expression. Over time they develop their skills to enable more complex analysis, using inference and deduction, and learn to use a range of advanced writers’ techniques such as pathetic fallacy, imagery and personification to construct characters, describe settings and weave narratives which use language artfully to create a desired effect.
Pupils study a range of children’s literature to learn how to write in a variety of fiction genres and become familiar with many of the ways in which narratives are structured through fundamental literary ideas of setting, character and plot. They also know, understand and are able to write in a range of non-fiction genres and structure text in a style suited to its purpose.
Their study of English at the Prep culminates in an exploration of Romeo and Juliet in its original language, where complex themes such as fate and harmony are explored through extended essays. Drama, media and discussion are also used to fully immerse the children in the world of play and to foster a passion in Shakespeare that we hope will be life-long.
Throughout their study of English, we aim to creatively approach the teaching, so that the children learn about grammar, spelling, comprehension, literary analysis and creative writing in an engaging, challenging and enjoyable way.
- Beyond the classroom
We believe that hearing directly from authors helps pupils explore new genres and develop writing skills. Our library organises regular visits from writers who tell fascinating tales about the tools of their trade and bring the writing process to life through workshops.
We run regular competitions, such as the Lost Page story writing challenge, where pupils were tasked with imagining a page had fallen out of a book and writing the extract that it contained. Our annual Extreme Reading competition is designed to inspire pupils to read during their summer holidays by setting them the challenge to be photographed with a book in the most unexpected locations. Our pupils love to enter national contests too, in particular BBC Radio 2’s 500 WORDS. Several pupils have made it through to the second round of this very tough competition. In addition, we host a biennial Spelling Bee, Poetry Recital, Balloon Debate and Handwriting Competition.
There are regular celebrations of all things literary. We recently held a Reading Festival – a kind of mini ‘Hay’ – including talks from authors, pupil seminars and plenty of opportunity to sit back and devour a book. Our Reading Allowed (pun intended) celebration enabled pupils to explore the techniques authors use to bring their works to life verbally. Of course, we also celebrate national and international events like World Book Day and National Poetry Day, often with dress-up activities.
We run enrichment activities for each year group to stretch the most able students in the subject whilst simultaneously providing plenty of additional support in a variety of ways for all students.
No English curriculum would be complete without seeing works brought to life and as such, we regularly visit theatres around the country, and we make use of our links closer to home by attending performances by Upper School students.
We have several clubs that enable children to develop their passion for English beyond the classroom including Writers’ Club, Prep Paper – a lunchtime club in which pupils put together a termly newspaper – and Poetry Club. After-school clubs include Film Club – in which pupils watch and create short films, Book Club and Library Club – in which pupils explore the work of different authors and illustrators, and interview visiting authors for the school newsletter.
Year 6 pupils can volunteer to be library monitors. They learn to use the library system to loan out, return and catalogue books. They also help with shelving and delivering books around the School and are always a resourceful, creative and energetic team.