The English Department has high expectations of pupils' performance. Within the English classroom, each individual has something to offer and is valued accordingly. Groups are organised, and learning is structured, in order that all pupils have equal access to the curriculum we offer them. This involves ensuring that pupils do not become 'invisible' or in any way marginalised because of race, gender, language or ability.
English has a particular role to play in the development of pupils' understanding and tolerance of others, and their ability to cooperate with others. These are promoted through the activities that pupils experience and the texts they encounter.
Our aims are: to develop pupils' confidence in themselves as effective participants in spoken English; to listen and respond with understanding and sensitivity; to express their own views fluently and with confidence in appropriate language registers.
We also aim to enable our pupils to read independently and with enjoyment, and to read accurately a range of texts, including those central to our literary heritage, and those from other cultures and traditions. The Department provides a curriculum which offers equally appropriate challenges to all pupils regardless of gender, race or ability, thereby enabling them to develop their communication skills in written forms and registers.
Many opportunities exist within the English Department to support and enhance learning. Some are school based involving, for example, outside speakers who share their knowledge experience and expertise. We hold an annual St Martin’s Ampleforth Poetry Day, where published poets are invited into school to discuss their work and judge pupils’ own poems. Published authors are also invited into school to share their experiences with our pupils and host story writing workshops.
The English department provides pupils with opportunities to enter their work for the Simon Beaufoy reading competition, which is open to all preparatory schools in the north of England. St Martin’s Ampleforth has won both the junior and senior prize in the last three years.
Pupils are also entered for the Northern region’s literary quiz in which over 50 schools from the independent and state sectors compete for a place in the national final. The quiz involves the teams answering a range of questions on a wide selection of reading material.
Reading is encouraged for boarders for whom a special time slot is allocated every evening after supper. Day pupils are encouraged to read at home and a letter, together with a regularly updated recommended reading list, is sent out every year.
Our library is well stocked with both contemporary and classical fiction, with abridged material for foreign pupils, and books with high interest levels for reluctant readers. The library displays are an excellent learning tool for our pupils, informing them of established authors and their works in a way that is both eye-catching and engaging.
Theatre visits are organised every year often to support a studied text, and theatre workshops visit regularly, providing opportunities for pupils to explore characterisation, mood, voice projection, timing and backstage procedures such as sound, lighting and special effects.
The Library is remarkable in part because it is a vibrant part of the school which offers access to information and ideas to support intellectual enquiry, as well as a warm and welcoming environment where bean bags and comfy chairs make it the ‘in’ place to be. The Library provides a suitable environment for the acquisition of knowledge, serendipity, quiet reflection and the exercise of the imagination. The library is accessible to all the children and provides an alternative to the classroom. The practise of reading for pleasure, particularly fiction, is encouraged. Boarders have time each evening for quiet reading. As well as providing books, there regularly updated display boards on all aspects of the printed word.
The Library stores over 30,000 books in its collection, resources are selected to stimulate the learning, research and recreational requirements of the school community. In addition to books the library offers Newspapers and Journals and access to online resources.
Chess is a very popular activity and there are a number of chess sets available in the Library. Pupils organise their own chess tournaments as well as playing for fun.
The Library team is enhanced by a dedicated group of pupil librarians.
The Librarian is always thinking of ways of getting children reading and interested in books. A recent initiative has been a series called "My Life In Books" which can be read below.