We believe that language is the basis of all learning and that without the ability to express thoughts, opinions and feelings coherently, to understand the written word or to write for a variety of purposes, children will not be able to access the rest of the curriculum or function as fully rounded adults.

We are committed to making the journey through Orley Farm as exciting, stimulating and thought provoking as possible.  All lessons include the interwoven strands of speaking and listening, reading and writing.  As well as dedicated English lessons, all children take part in a stimulating drama programme which encourages imaginative interpretations, personal development and public speaking skills.  Students are encouraged to express their opinions clearly and to back them up with reasoned arguments, to read widely and to write passionately, to have a growing understanding of the world and the effect language has both upon them individually and on society.

Emma Welsh

Head of English

The emphasis of Literacy in Pre-Prep is the acquisition and development of the children’s skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing as independent learners.  Literacy skills are fundamental as they underpin and intertwine with all others areas of the curriculum such as practising their speaking for their class assemblies and productions, to writing up science experiments.

There is a strong partnership between school and home in learning to read, especially in helping children to understand the words they have decoded and parents are encouraged to discuss what their child is reading with them.

Literacy is taught in a dedicated teaching time throughout Pre-Prep, however the teaching and learning of literacy is supported throughout the whole curriculum. Acquiring firm foundations of the four strands of literacy learning is fundamental to the pupil’s development across the curriculum which allows them to become successful and independent learners.

We instil a passion for reading in the children through a range of stimulating individual reading and shared class texts. The children are encouraged to develop the key reading skills of decoding; retrieval and recall; inference as well as understanding the structure and organisation of texts. As reading detectives they discuss language choices made by the writer; understand that writers write for a purpose and connect the books read to real life experiences. It is through grasping these key skills children will become effective writers themselves. We take the approach that children write best when they write about something they know about or are interested in. Offer them a subject that immediately engages their imagination, and they will think about it, talk about it and finally, write about it. Our cross curriculum approach to writing emerges the children within a topic bringing it to life, giving them the opportunity to write about what they are familiar with.

The English department provides a vibrant setting in which specialist teachers, who are passionate about their subject, seek to challenge, stimulate and inspire their pupils. Our core business is to teach our pupils to communicate effectively, with accuracy, clarity and a sense of purpose both in written and oral forms, and also to respond to a wide variety of texts with understanding, insight and sensitivity. In doing so we ensure that our pupils feel confident and well prepared for a wide range and variety of senior school entrance exams, and more importantly, for their future studies in English. However, as any English teacher will take great pains to explain, there is so much more to the study of English than passing exams.

We work on a topic basis each term which provides a stimulating and creative context within which we can develop all of the key skills: reading and comprehension, writing for different purposes, audiences and formats, spelling, punctuation, grammar and speaking and listening.

From a broader perspective, we encourage our pupils to embrace and engage with the rich, varied and expressive language of our isles and to explore the treasures of our literary heritage and beyond. Critical appreciation and the ability to analyse language is a key skill that we nurture in our pupils so that they can, as a minimum, score well in comprehension exams, but our aspirations are to sow the seeds for a lifelong love of reading for pleasure and to teach the skills to access texts at a much deeper level. Pupils will also find ample opportunity to indulge their own creative impulses, whether they are knitting together the strands of a cunning crime caper, experimenting with the cadences and imagery of a piece of poetry or writing a pithy piece of sharp and closely observed journalism.

Opportunities abound to enrich the study of English with, for example: Creative Writing Club, Verse Speaking Competitions, Book Week, theatre trips, visiting workshops, a Kids Literature Quiz, reading challenges and a brand new state of the art library, which is currently under development.