Years 4 to 8

Engage Enthuse Empower

In the English department, it is our intent to nurture well-read, insightful, inquisitive, and enthusiastic readers and writers, who are confident verbal communicators and attentive listeners. Through the study of English and Drama, our pupils develop the skills of critical thinking, close reading and effective communication preparing them for the Common Entrance examination and beyond. We have created a fantastic and diverse curriculum, which ranges from ancient texts to modern classics; pupils study Pre and Post-Twentieth Century Fiction, from whole novels and short stories to extracts spanning genres such as Gothic, Dystopia and Detective Fiction; they read, perform and write Classic and Modern Poetry; they explore the real world through a range of Non-Fiction units of work, including Travel Writing and Autobiography; they respond to various stimulus, including art, prose and moving image to inspire their own descriptive and creative writing.

Pupils develop and value their creativity in a curriculum that is varied, balancing a grounding in key works of English Literature with studying the ways in which the English language operates. Children have the opportunity to analyse and explore literature from a wide range of genres, periods and intellectual traditions. As a department, we recognise the importance of students being able to place texts within their historical and cultural context and to recognise their cultural value. Pupils develop intellectual curiosity and analytical approach, driving them forward to attempt new concepts and in-depth questioning. As well as learning to learn, we highly value creativity and original writing. We don’t just want our students to analyse and evaluate; we want them to create the next generation of classics. At the heart of everything, we encourage independent reading outside the curriculum and the ability to make well informed, critical judgements concerning a range of texts.

English at Witham Hall reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. Spoken language continues to underpin the development of pupils’ reading and writing; pupils are taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate, as well as continuing to develop their skills in working collaboratively with their peers to discuss reading, writing and speech across the curriculum. Weekly prep exercises will essentially reinforce and supplement work done in class with a strong focus on the comprehension of non-fiction, fiction, poetry analysis and planning written responses to build towards examinations at Michaelmas and Trinity for years 5 – 7, and C.E. and scholarship for year 8.

The Accelerated Reading Scheme operates in the school and our children are encouraged to read as widely as possible. We have a superb Library, housed in the main building, and a resources room to support the pupils in their independent reading. Reading skills are the foundation of a good education and reading is at the centre of English at Witham. Outside the classroom there are occasional trips to enhance the pupils’ experience of the subject. Such excursions have included in recent times, visits to Stratford and Cambridge in conjunction with the drama and music departments as well as trips to the local Oundle Literature Festival. Competitions such as a Spelling Bee, Short Story Competition and Handwriting Challenge are an additional feature of the department’s profile within the school. Last year, students had the opportunity to enter several national writing competitions, including several finalists from Y5-Y8 in the BBC2 500 Word competition and the Wicked Young Writer Competition. Recognising the importance of reading and writing for pleasure, students at Witham take an active role in recognising and celebrating World Book Day and National Poetry Day.