English lessons at Gresham’s Prep are dynamic, engaging and aim to not just cover the National Curriculum guidelines for Literacy but go beyond them.
We aim to inspire pupils’ creativity and tap into their imaginations with stimulating text choices and a range of resources to challenge their thinking.
Step by step
Getting the basics right is vital and there is a great deal of focus on handwriting, spelling, punctuation and grammar especially in our Junior Years. We also strive to instill in the pupils analytical minds, encouraging them to ask interesting questions, to delve deeper into why language is used in specific ways and consider purpose, audience and register. In the Senior Years, skills are developed through the study of more challenging texts such as ‘Animal Farm’ in Year 8, ‘Othello’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’ as well as modern texts such as ‘Noughts and Crosses’ and ‘The Breadwinner.’ We believe that literature and poetry are key elements of study in English and our pupils are exposed to a range of authors and poets. Regular reading is closely monitored through personalised reading targets in reading records. Reading is superbly supported in library lessons and pupils have access to our brilliant, well-stocked library where they cannot fail to find a book that will spark their enthusiasm for reading! The Spoken Word (speaking and listening) is at the heart of our English programme and pupils are given opportunities to express themselves effectively, work with others, build confidence and present ideas in a coherent, creative and empathetic manner. The development of these skills is well-supported in the Performing Arts lessons pupils enjoy each week. It goes without saying that not all pupils will find mastering these core skills easy and the excellent Learning Support team work closely with the English Department to ensure that each and every child reaches their potential no matter what their educational needs are, it is very much a team effort geared towards the individual.
“Literature is the art of discovering something extraordinary about ordinary people, and saying with ordinary words something extraordinary.”
Regular assessments provide pupils with check points along the way. In the Junior Years regular Rising Stars assessments ensure that pupils’ progress is closely monitored and benchmarked to national standards. In the senior years our focus is the end of Year 8 exit examinations, scholarship examinations and entry tests to other schools where Common Entrance may be needed or another form of assessment. In addition to this, we use Progress in English tests, Group Reading Age tests and the WRAT Spelling Age test to monitor pupils’ attainment and track progress. Obviously, these assessments are the bigger picture and regular class spelling tests, comprehensions, assessed independent work all become pieces of the jigsaw too!
Stretching young minds
The English Department at Gresham’s Prep is a very successful, vibrant place. Annual events such as: our Poetry Evening for Years 4 and 5 provides pupils with a fabulous opportunity to learn and recite a poem ‘off by heart’; author visits from top writers such as Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart, Michelle Paver and Darren Shan inspire creativity and reading; BBC Schools Report day where our Year 8 team become broadcast and newspaper journalists for the day; extra-curricular creative writing clubs; writing ‘on location’ responding to the natural environment’; producing the school newspaper ‘The Mardle’; debating competitions at other schools and lots, lots more…
Pupils are encouraged to enter national competitions too and in recent years we have had much success here:-
- BBC School Report Day reports were featured on BBC News (televised) and pupils were interviewed live on BBC Radio Norfolk
- Winners of The Langley debating cup
- Several pupils have reached the final stages of the BBC Radio 2 Short Story Competition
- Poetry Society Highly Commended in 2013
- Finalists and Highly Commended in senior and junior competitions of the National Essay Competition 2014
“If we talk about literacy, we have to talk about how to enhance our children’s mastery over the tools needed to live intelligent, creative, and involved lives.”