As its starting point, the English Department at Halstead takes the view that all children wish to write well and want to read fluently and for pleasure; as their teachers, through our experience, subject knowledge and enthusiasm, it is our task to fulfil those ambitions.
Reading for pleasure is central at Halstead with the Library as the hub and spoke of our reading life. Books are chosen to represent the diverse interests, knowledge and cultures of our pupils, with all girls warmly invited to suggest further titles for the library, suggestions which the Department then follows up. Girls have access to a very up-to-date fiction and non-fiction stock which includes a range of audio books, a listening station and children’s periodicals; we subscribe to The Loop, a magazine ‘for children who are into everything and anything.’ KS1 have their own mini libraries near their classrooms but are actively encouraged to visit the main school library, laying foundations for their reading futures. E-readers are welcome in school as another means of engaging girls with reading and the future definitely has its eye on the digital reading corner.
In the classroom, children are given every opportunity to practise the four key skills of English, with Speaking and Listening having equal billing alongside Reading and Writing. Amongst many activities in English we provide occasions for:
- Spelling investigations
- Termly book reviews
- ‘Talk for’ ideas, opinions and creativity
- Weekly library visits
- Guided reading
- Public speaking
- Poetry recital
- Reading with younger pupils
- Author visits
- Book talk
Above all we instil in our pupils that when they write, they are ‘real’ writers, writing for a ‘real’ audience.