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English is a core subject at Parkgate House and our teaching goes far beyond the national curriculum requirements, providing breadth and depth of learning that is rich and varied and taught with passion and enthusiasm. We want our pupils to be accomplished communicators and excellent readers and writers. Our broad curriculum is full of activities which provide a love for language, speaking and listening, conversations, texts, authors and poets and events that are set to inspire and captivate young learners and put them on a path to lifelong learning. English allows our pupils to explore their own world and to discover new worlds that appeal to their natural curiosity and fuel their imaginations. English is used by our pupils to tell us what they have discovered, to share what they have seen, what they think and feel, and to influence others through compelling conversation and writing. 

From the moment our pupils commence their Parkgate journey, they learn to speak, pronounce sounds, talk and converse using high-quality phonics teaching and reading sessions, making reading and learning to read a happy process that our pupils are enthused by. Secure phonics skills are essential for children to decode (read) and encode (spell) words accurately and with ease, so children can comprehend and compose text. From these firm foundations, your children will become confident in their skills as they progress through the school. At Parkgate House, we are keen to emphasise to our children the importance of good handwriting and this is taught in a systematic way that encourages children to take pride in their work and the way they present ideas. We offer a Phonics and Reading Workshop for parents to attend at the beginning of the Autumn Term, so you too are supported with the provision you give your children at home in addition to their learning in school. 

In the Pre-Prep Department our pupils experience our Power Reading sessions. These involve the children being split into 3 or 4 groups (generally 4 or 5 pupils per group according to reading ability) each one with a teacher. The pupils will read and answer comprehension or spelling questions for 15 minutes. By doing this every day for two years, the children make incredible progress with their reading, as well as considerable gains with their writing. It sets them up as fluent readers entering our Prep Department. 

We place great emphasis on reading, encouraging our pupils to read as much as possible and as widely as possible. In addition to our set texts we help our pupils to find stories and authors they will enjoy, regularly creating and updating reading lists and restocking our class libraries with new books. There is time set aside in the school day for reading for pleasure. 

Pupils have a chance to become involved in many enrichment activities. Book Week is arguably the most exciting part of our English calendar for our Nursery and Prep School and falls in the Spring Term each year, to coincide with World Book Day.  Highlights include author visits and workshops for each year group, a House Book Quiz, a World Book Day dress up competition, mixed age group reading activities such as ‘reading safaris’, library visits and a collaborative project to create a whole school story. Visiting authors have included Neal Zetter, a comedy performance poet, and Ross Montgomery, an award-winning children’s author. Children also have an opportunity to raise money for the charity Room to Read; for example, through the ‘Great Book Week Bake Sale’. Pupils celebrate their love of reading and the whole week promotes the immense value of storytelling and story sharing. 

Poetry is an important part of our curriculum and pupils enjoy reading, writing and performing poetry. Their confidence in understanding and appreciating poetry is enhanced through visits and workshops from published poets and activities to celebrate National Poetry Day during the Autumn Term. 

Our teaching of English at Parkgate House encourages critical and creative thinking by our pupils. At Parkgate, pupils have the opportunity to enter our Poetry, Handwriting, Non-Fiction and Creative Writing competitions which we hold every year. These events, alongside Roald Dahl Story Day in the Autumn Term, are highly anticipated events and every year the entries are a testament to the hard work the pupils have put into their English; we are regularly astounded by the wonderfully rich vocabulary and inventive sentence structures that they employ and it is an excellent opportunity to celebrate creativity and the written word. Those awarded 3rd, 2nd and 1st place have their entries published in a booklet which we share with all the parents and they also receive a certificate and prize for their achievement. We also invite those who have been awarded 1st place in the Creative Writing Competition the opportunity to read their entry aloud at a Parents’ Assembly. 

English is also a fantastic way to develop interpersonal skills, and we use English to encourage team working, public speaking and debating skills. By Prep 5 and 6 these skills come to the fore as we prepare pupils for senior school interviews and 11+ exams, and they leave Parkgate well-prepared for further learning at senior school and beyond. 

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