English is the single most important cross-curricular subject in the school. The skills which pupils are taught in English underpin the quality of work they produce in all subjects. When we teach reading pupils are not just being taught how to read a piece of prose or a poem with fluency, they are also being equipped with skills; reading a map, interpreting a painting and analysing information on a graph. As a department we believe that teaching pupils to write well unlocks success for them in every subject.
The aim of the English department is to engender a love of literature and an enjoyment of the language in its many forms. Pupils are shown how to experiment with different styles of creative writing, whether based on personal experience, description, narration, poetry, play scripts, letters, summaries, reports or discursive material.
Reading is naturally, absolutely essential to the teaching of English and pupils are advised to read from a wide range of literature, including both fiction and non-fiction. Each year group is provided with a reading list appropriate to its level and children are shown how to make use of our very well stocked library. Throughout normal English lessons the children are constantly presented with and enjoy novels, plays, poetry and non-fiction.
A large emphasis is placed on a well-grounded knowledge of the fundamentals in grammar, spelling and punctuation. Pupils are expected to take a pride in both the content and the presentation of their work. The Pre-Prep has just introduced a new cursive writing handwriting scheme and this will be implemented by teachers in the school as the pupils move up through the school.
Speaking and listening is an integral part of English lessons. All pupils are encouraged to participate actively in discussions from the Early Years to Year 8. Pupils are encouraged to participate actively in group work, to prepare talks, discuss views and issues and also to learn to listen carefully and considerately to the opinions of others. Pupils from Years 6 - 8 are able to join the school’s debating club as an extra activity. Pupils from Years 5 - 8 also have the opportunity to join the school’s public speaking club as an extra-curricular activity. Pupils also have the opportunity to take Drama as an extra activity and many of our pupils are prepared for LAMDA by the school’s Drama department. During National Poetry Day pupils are encouraged to learn and recite a wide range of poetry and pupils from the senior years take enormous delight and pride in reciting poetry to pupils in the younger years. Pupils across the school love dressing up as a favourite book character on World Book Day. We often have visiting authors coming in to talk to the pupils and share their expertise. We also visit the theatre and love hosting touring theatre groups.
In the Upper School, pupils in Years 6 and 7 are prepared for and given extra support for the senior schools’ pre-tests.
In the Pre–Prep and in the Juniors, pupils are taught by their form teachers. Each class has seven or eight periods of English. From Year 5 pupils are allocated six lessons of English a week and from Year 6 pupils are also set English prep.
In the Early Years pupils are expected to read at home to an adult on a regular basis. Pupils in the Juniors and Upper School are expected to read independently on a daily basis and pupils keep a reading diary in which they are required to keep a regular record.
During the Early Years pupils should be positively encouraged when trying to spell words. It is important, at this stage, that pupils have the confidence to ‘have a go’. From the end of Reception pupils have different spelling words each week. Informal assessment takes place throughout Reception and more formal testing takes place from Year 1. Pupils in the Juniors have formal weekly spelling tests and this continues into Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3.
Within the first six weeks of entering Reception, formal assessment of children takes place and this continues throughout the school at different stages. The English department works very closely with the Learning Support department. The Learning Support department runs the Annual Literacy testing which involves the NGRT, The York and the SWST tests.
"Holmewood goes the proverbial extra mile which sets apart a great school from simply a good one."