English occupies a core position within the curriculum. The key English skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening underpin pupils’ learning in all curriculum areas. To this end, the aim of the department is to guide your child to become an effective communicator, at the same time as engendering a life-long love of literature and language. Furthermore, we want to support your child in developing an inquiring mind and an enthusiasm and curiosity for all that life has to offer. English develops skills and provides pupils with pleasure and broader horizons. Therefore we recognise the importance of activities which extend the curriculum outside the confines of the normal school day, such as after school activities; visiting authors, poets and illustrators; World Book Day; National Poetry Day; National Storytelling Week and school trips, to name but a few.
In English lessons, your children will be presented with high-quality literature covering poetry, plays, novels and non-fiction. Our pupils are taught how to read with confidence and enjoyment and to interact meaningfully with a wide range of texts. Pupils have the opportunity to select books from a range of classic and recently published children’s fiction from our well-stocked library. Weekly library lessons are scheduled for all classes, during which pupils have the opportunity to select books from a range of classic and recently published children’s fiction. The department runs various reading initiatives designed to help pupils develop a life-long love of reading. Examples of these include reading buddies, in which pupils in Years 7 and 8 read with Year 1 children, and book groups linked to national literature awards such as the Carnegie Medal.
Pupils are taught to write in a variety of styles for different purposes and audiences. They are encouraged to develop their vocabulary and write imaginatively. The important skills of planning, editing and redrafting are covered at length, so that pupils are able to produce carefully crafted, polished pieces of work. The English department places emphasis on a well-grounded knowledge of the fundamentals in grammar, spelling and punctuation. We run annual events to promote engagement with and enthusiasm for writing, such as our annual poetry and creative writing competitions.
Speaking and listening is an integral part of English lessons. We provide opportunities for pupils to participate actively in group work, to prepare talks, to take part in debates, to recite poetry, to discuss views and issues and also to learn to listen carefully and considerately to the opinions of others. Drama-focussed activities are often used within lessons in order to engage more fully with a text.
Time in the classroom is complemented by visits from authors and poets as well as poetry and story-writing competitions, creative writing club and debating sessions. Our team of junior journalists writes and edits our own St Michael’s newspaper, the Junior Journal, and we go on trips to the theatre both locally and in London.