Adopting creative and varied approaches in our teaching we aim to instil the basics of good reading and comprehension skills and create fluent writers who demonstrate a good command of grammar and accurate spelling. Put broadly, the aim is for pupils to feel confident in expressing themselves using the English language and to encourage a lifelong love of the world of literature.
The English department at Holme Grange aims to be creative, inspiring and inclusive; we teach in a combination of mixed ability groupings and sets depending on the age and the stage of education of the pupils concerned. We are passionate about literature and all classes regularly study class novels and consequently develop the skills required for English Literature long before KS4 and GCSEs loom on the horizon. Having worked in partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company for a year staff are trained in teaching Shakespeare through active approaches; all pupils in the school from Nursery to GCSE experience the thrill of learning through a Shakespeare play annually. Pupils have access to specialist staff from the age of 9 and expectations are high. To complement classroom learning pupils are regularly experience theatre and residential visits to enhance their understanding of texts.
The successful study of English must be central to the education of pupils. Children must be given the ability to access and use the English language confidently and skillfully. English enables pupils to understand, interpret, talk and write about the world around them, to understand their heritage, and to study other subjects in the school curriculum.
The engagement of pupils in the study of English creates opportunities for them to:
- develop their ability to read, understand and appreciate a wide range of texts, both fiction and non-fiction, enabling them to extend their own interests in reading and increase their ability to make judgements about the written word.
- develop the ability to write accurately in different situations, focusing on their audience, and using appropriate language, form, and structure, thereby acquiring the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to engage in higher study of English and also to use written language appropriately in their daily lives and in their chosen careers.
- develop the skills, attitudes and attributes that can support learning in other subject areas and are also needed for employment and life, eg, listening skills, concentration, creativity, intuition, perseverance, self-confidence and sensitivity towards others.
While acknowledging the influences of the past on the evolution of our practice, the English department is forward looking, willing to embrace new methods and current trends where appropriate, while keeping up to date with changes at a National level.
English at Holme Grange is a core subject; the programme of study is based on the National Curriculum and the Common Entrance Syllabus. Our aim is to transfer our passion for the subject to the children to enable them to communicate effectively through the spoken and written word and develop a desire to study the subject further.
In the Pre-Prep, children are heard to read daily by a member of staff and a class reading book is sent home each night. The basics of good reading and spelling are established using a systematic approach to decoding the English language. Children are encouraged to develop their vocabulary and writing skills through regular ‘big writes’.
In the Prep school every form or set studies a novel or play each term, this provides the scaffold for the English programme of study and ensures the children are experiencing a broad spectrum of quality literature.
During Years 3 and 4 English is taught by the form teachers and is often accessed as part of a cross curricular project giving the children a clear context for their learning. The spelling programme follows through to the end of Year 3 by which time the majority of children will have a sound understanding of the mechanics of English.
From Year 5 to 8 the children are taught by specialist English teachers and are grouped according to ability. Children continue their study of English language and begin the more structured approach and critical analysis associated with English Literature. By the end of Year 8 all pupils will have studied at least two Shakespeare plays and four children’s classics along with a selection of more modern texts and a wide range of poetry. During Years 7 and 8 students are introduced to classical writers such as Dickens, Austen and Hardy and will study amongst others the poems of the First World War .
Holme Grange also runs a reading award scheme which encourages the children to read a wide range of genre and develops their comprehension skills through a selection of book based activities. The scheme works across phases of the school – Pre-Prep, Years 3 and 4, Years 5 and 6 and Years 7 and 8.