Sunday Times Prep School of the Year 2013-14

English

At Holy Cross our aim within the English curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy – reading, writing, listening and speaking. We equip the girls with a strong command of the spoken and written word, as well as developing a life-long love of literature through the enjoyment of reading. The girls are given many opportunities to communicate their ideas and emotions and through their reading, and with their listening skills, they are able to consider and reflect on others’ ideas. Writing is a fundamental skill – both in academic, imaginative content alongside the physical act of letter formation – all of which start in Reception.

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Spoken English underpins the development of reading and writing which gives it an important role within the English curriculum. The ability to express ideas orally helps to improve the standard of our girls’ writing; they are naturally encouraged to speak out in class within all curriculum areas. We ensure the girls have regular opportunities to speak in assemblies, services and Masses as well as the chance to perform to larger, public audiences during their annual Christmas productions. Weekly ‘Talk Homework’ encourages family discussion at the dinner table on a range of topical, political and philosophical issues; this topic is advertised in the Friday Update. Pupil voice is encouraged and heard through the School and Eco Councils, as well as a thriving debating society, all of which further enhance these critical life skills of speaking confidently in public.

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Enjoyment is the most important aspect of reading and we are keen to develop enthusiastic and voracious readers who will come to read for pleasure and purpose throughout their lives - it is one of the most important skills that a child will learn. Reading takes place throughout the school day across all curriculum subjects as well as the formal teaching and guided reading in class. From an early age, Holy Cross pupils take books home to share with adults. As they become more proficient, they extend their reading matter to a wider choice of fiction and non-fiction books which they choose from our well-sourced school library. Our specialist Librarian is a constant source of advice, reviewing and updating books, responding to girls’ requests and developing our ever expanding e-book collection.

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Writing is a learning medium that extends across the curriculum and children need to write as a means of communication and as a way of clarifying their own thoughts and opinions. The girls are encouraged to develop their cognitive skills, imagination and personal expression through a range of writing tasks using clear, concise language. Poets, story tellers and authors visit the school regularly to help inspire the girls. Writing is constantly celebrated in class, through displays and there are opportunities throughout the year for the girls to submit their writing in national competitions; we have also published our own anthology of poetry.

We do hold parent workshops to support our curriculum intentions and documentation from these is available below.

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  1. Jane Considine Whole School Approach to Language Acquisition
  2. Writing Guide for Parents
  3. Reading Guide for Parents
  4. VCOP Pyramid-Posters
  5. Talk-Homework