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English is central to every aspect of the boys’ education. The English curriculum aims to develop skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening. As well as the time allocated to English, links are made to many of the other subjects allowing boys to develop their skills in a range of contexts. The curriculum is very structured and geared particularly to boys’ interests.
A variety of teaching and learning styles are used. We encourage the boys to be articulate and confident. They will have the opportunity to develop a love of reading and a good understanding of what they read. As writers, they will be confident using a wide range of styles and able to engage their audience through well planned work. We are proud that our boys achieve standards that are well above national averages.
In Prep 3 (Year 5) and Prep 4 (Year 6), boys are split into smaller groups for specialist English teaching. Typically, this is a Set 1 and two smaller Set 2s, though other configurations may apply depending upon the cohort of boys. When placing boys in sets, we take into account their ability, working styles and the level of support they may require. This ensures that while all boys receive the same core curriculum, each boy receives the teaching that he needs to maximise his progress. There are also regular opportunities for collaborating and interacting with boys from other sets.
Assessment is an integral part of all English teaching. Boys’ progress is continually monitored throughout their time in Prep. In Prep 3 (Year 5) and Prep 4 (Year 5), this becomes more formal with the introduction of regular tests; the results of which are reported to parents. Grades and assessment results are reported to parents on a termly basis.
Reading is central to every aspect of the curriculum. Enthusiastic readers make good learners. We aim to introduce boys to a wide variety of books both in class and for their own personal reading. Each boy has two 30 minute reading periods per week where he has a time of silent reading as part of the Prep school routine. The children look forward to this opportunity for undisturbed reading and it is important that this quality time is not impinged upon. Audio stories, individual book choices, either from home or the school library, and group reading are all practised in this session, and the boys are exposed to a variety of challenging texts.
In lessons, boys continue to hone their reading skills through use of a variety of reading schemes and a teacher or teaching assistant will listen to them individually on a regular basis. It is also important that they have the opportunity to read out loud regularly at home to continue to develop fluency and expression.
As they move forward into Prep 3 (Year 5) and Prep 4 (Year 6), boys are expected to spend more time reading independently and may be asked to provide book reviews or posters to share their favourites with others.
In class, boys read a variety of texts from poetry to spy thrillers to sets of instructions. We aim to make them familiar with the features of specific genres and to build up their comprehension skills.
Authors are invited into the school on a regular basis to share their latest stories, talk about the creative process and run workshops.
This is closely linked to the texts the boys read. Typically, boys would explore various examples of a specific genre of text and use these to build up their own pieces of writing. Along the way, they are taught how to organise sentences and paragraphs, choosing words to create specific effects. Grammar work is integral to all writing.
This is central to every lesson, with much discussion being done in pairs or small groups to encourage boys to articulate ideas and justify opinions before committing themselves to paper.
In Prep 1 and Prep 2, boys all take part in regular Drama lessons. This is further developed in Prep 3 and Prep 4 and is supported through the very popular Drama Club, which stages regular productions.
Each week, boys are given a list of spellings to learn based around a particular letter pattern. Most boys tackle a core list of words. Others may be given a shorter list or challenged with some harder words. As well as learning to spell the words, boys are expected to be able to use them correctly in sentences to help broaden vocabulary.
Some boys may benefit from additional time to tackle issues arising in spelling, reading or writing. The English team work closely with the Learning Support department to identify areas of difficulty and plan appropriate intervention. This may be through small group work with a teacher or teaching assistant. Other boys might need individual Learning Support lessons to enable them to catch up with their peers. All boys are constantly monitored to ensure they are making the best possible progress.
Each year we endeavour to provide boys with a diverse range of Literacy related activities. These include:
Book Fairs (three each year)
Book Days – where boys dress up as their favourite book characters and take part in workshops.
Competitions – we enter national competitions in both poetry and narrative
Theatre experiences – we organise visits to the theatre or travelling theatre companies visit us.