English and The Libraries
In the Junior School English reading begins with phonics, decoding and the introduction of early comprehension skills. In Years 2 and 3 the emphasis is on a deeper understanding of inference. Boys learn spellings grouped by phonetical sounds and their variations. Writing starts with letter formation and soon incorporates the rudiments of grammar. They are encouraged to develop their imaginations. Handwriting continues to be taught throughout Years 2 and 3 by class teachers.
The Middle School builds on the skills learnt in the Junior School, but with the addition of verbal reasoning practice, and begins preparation for the 11+ exams that many of our pupils will sit in Year 6. The first two terms in Year 6 are given over to thorough practice for the ISEB computer tests and then the individual exams set by the majority of London day schools and some boarding-schools. In Years 7 and 8 boys develop analytical skills, formal essay-writing techniques and creativity in both poetry and prose.
At the heart of the English department is the instillation of a love of reading. Pupils who don’t read are impeding their development of vocabulary, which can seriously affect their chances at GCSE. All boys up to Year 7 will have one library period a week taught by the Librarian (who is also Head of English) and three reading periods after lunch. The Libraries, which contains over 7000 books, are open daily between 8am and 4 pm for boys to borrow, browse, read, or to ask the librarian for advice on reading matter. Senior boys have the opportunity to volunteer as assistant librarians. Their recommendations to their peers is invaluable. In addition each form-room in the Middle School and each specialist English teaching room has its own library. Visiting practitioners regularly visit the school to talk about their books and their approach to writing fiction.