Head of Department: Lucy Beedell
The English Department embraces a variety of styles depending on pupils’ needs, the learning objectives and the teachers’ enthusiasms and strengths. Learning and understanding are achieved by enthusiastic child-centred teaching, which endeavours to develop the imagination and creativity of our pupils and ensure that they have a deep rooted interest in English that will remain with them beyond school life.
The Department promotes reading through visiting authors. These authors help to bring literature to life; encourage children to consider themselves as writers; and extend the range of literature that children might read whilst at the School.
Windlesham Book Week happens every year where we aim to encourage and inspire our pupils to read a wider variety of books and be more aware of literature in general. The week begins with a Book Fair with many staff dressing up as a book character. The children then have to guess not only the character but also the author and title of the book. This certainly encourages many of them to venture into the Library hunting for various volumes including, ‘The Demon Headmaster’ who Mr Foster was recently disguised as.
Various competitions are run throughout this week including, ‘Design a Bookmark Competition’ where the winning design is printed on the bookmarks used by all the pupils that year. The children are set a Book Week Challenge where they are asked to read their Book Fair book in a week to receive an Alpha. During English lessons, the children also pursue lots of book related activities, including writing a book review for the Library. All the reviews are judged and the winners from each class are displayed in the Denman building. It is always guaranteed to be a fun-filled week and certainly improves the children’s knowledge of authors and literature.
Over the years we have had the pleasure of meeting Robert Muchamore, author of The Recruit series; Ali Sparkes, author of the Shapeshifter series; Anthony Browne, the current Children’s Laureate; and the comedy writer and performer, David Smith. Alan Gibbons, an old favourite with the children and staff, has visited twice. He is a much celebrated author and is renowned for his prize winning book, The Shadow of the Minotaur; but we simply enjoy his humorous stories and inspiring workshops. A group of children also had the opportunity to meet Michelle Paver, author of the Wolf Brother series; and Paul Stewart, author of The Edge Chronicles. The Twos year group were fortunate enough to enjoy a one-off audience with Michael Morpurgo as he read extracts from his book, Private Peaceful.
The Poetry Festival is another one of the highlights in the school year. Children are encouraged to compete in individual poetry recital competitions and every child in the school is involved in a class poetry performance. We also hold regular Public Speaking Competitions and Debates to encourage and nurture the child’s sense of performance and to improve their use of persuasive language and increase their self-confidence.