English teaching at St Peter’s is much more than simple English lessons. The entire staff embed, foster and portray a love of language and literature throughout the school. Our aim is to inspire our pupils to become lovers of reading, excellent writers and confident speakers and listeners.
St Peter’s places great importance on reading. Teachers share their love and enjoyment of reading, sharing their favourite books in class and during assemblies. World Book Day is a much enjoyed time to celebrate the wonders of the written world and the places it can take us. Over the years, staff have set the example and dressed as characters from a wide range of modern and classic books, encouraging the pupils to do the same.
English lessons inspire and deepen our pupils’ analysis of a wide range of written genres. We have adopted the Pearson Scheme, Bug Club Comprehension. Pupils encounter a wide range of fiction and non-fiction texts, analysing and discovering new vocabulary and styles. Text can be a collection of smaller texts on a theme, or abridged interpretations of known classics, such as Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist. As a class, children enjoy reading the texts aloud, or listening to them in an on-line format. Pupils’ comprehension and understanding is built up through the structure of three key questions, whilst discussions lead to deeper analysis, supported with evidence.
Our students are encouraged to share their passion for reading with each other, discussing their favourite styles or authors. All genres are encouraged, from short story collections to graphic novel interpretations to full length novels, not forgetting or devaluing the importance of non-fiction texts. Our well stocked welcoming library overlooks the calm leafy South Lawn, and houses a plethora of genres and subject matters. Our non-fiction section is growing and the weekly ‘First News’ children’s newspaper is keenly digested.
Each week the library is full of action as our Year 5 and 6 Librarians take control. They take great pride in maintaining the order of the library, encouraging reviews and suggestions from other years and welcoming new visitors, and supporting them in checking in and out books.
St Peter’s encourages and gives our pupils the skills to articulate themselves in the written language. By immersing in the reading, pupils are shown how to identify and admire techniques that authors use, with an eye to utilise them in their own written language. Pupils are given the security to confidently express themselves and their ideas, without fear of failure. Here, every idea is explored. Every suggestion is discussed and every imagination is valued. Through a range of physical, interactive and immersive activities and stimuli, pupils are led on an exploratory journey through the genres and styles of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and play scripting.
Pupils in the Upper School, compete annually for the Essay Writing Trophy at our annual Founder’s Day celebrations. Our writers are given time in the Lent Term to select from one of six essay choices, which cover stories, non-fiction and poetry. Independently, they create their responses, with the freedom to interpret the titles. The results are always impressive, with pupils of all abilities entering.
Here at St Peter’s we do not believe that Grammar is a standalone aspect as it underpins all the reading and writing that we do. The Headstart Grammar series that we study in Upper School incorporates an on-going narrative which has been broken down into weekly chapters. These extended prose exemplify strong and varied use of grammar and written techniques. Pupils use this text to springboard their study of grammatical elements, before using them in their own writing.
Speaking and Listening
Through teacher and pupil led discussions, our pupils show immense maturity and confidence when speaking in class and during more formal presentations. Every class prepares a class assembly, to which the whole school and the class’ family are invited. This is always a much anticipated event in the calendar! Our class assemblies have ranged from small productions, a showcase of learning, poetry recitals and even a St Peter’s Ready, Steady Cook show down.
In all subject areas, pupils show compassion and understanding for the thoughts and contributions of all during our discussions and debates. Our pupils understand the importance of listening to others, rather than simply hearing.