English at Ballard School is a combination of enthusiasm, hard work and enjoyment. We aim for children to progress through the school with a love of language, books and a knowledge of their Literary Heritage. Our key words are creativity, competency, critical and cultural understanding.

Communication skills are vital in today’s rapidly changing world and our aim is to produce confident and competent communicators.

Teaching Staff

Deborah Hurdle

Head of English

The English Department strives to instil enthusiasm for the subject and self-confidence in the students. Lessons are lively and varied with every opportunity given for debate and reflection.

We encourage students to work hard and aim high; providing them with a wide range of subject material and expertise.

Years 3 - 5

Children’s experience of literature is enriched by visits from touring theatre companies and storytellers. World Book Day often sees pupils dressing up as their favourite book character. Texts are enjoyed together and children are supported in becoming more independent readers through a partnership between home and school. The Oxford Reading Tree scheme is supplemented by library books, set texts and reading material suggested by teachers, parents and the children themselves. When writing, children build on their understanding of grammar and learn spellings weekly. They are nurtured in becoming competent writers in a range of genres. An emphasis on drama, discussion and public speaking results in confident young communicators.

Years 6 - 8

In these crucial years we focus on continuity and progress, creativity and enjoyment.  Pupils participate in ESB (English Speaking Board) exams to gain confidence in public speaking. Drama activities and trips are integrated into the curriculum. Reading for pleasure is encouraged through allocated reading time and participation in Read for My school and World Book Day. The skills needed for GCSE are introduced.

Years 9 - 11

In the Senior School pupils are encouraged to be independent learners through such activities such as Ballard Challenge week, researching and presenting a project to outside judges. All students study English Language and Literature and every opportunity is taken to enhance the students’ learning with visiting speakers and theatre visits. Excellent exam results are a result of hard work expected of students in conjunction with the support of well qualified, experienced specialist staff.

A Reflection

It has been a great year for the English department at Ballard culminating with an impressive 44% A*A grades for Year 11 at GCSE level; we are so proud of our pupils and wish them well.

Our Year 6 and Year 8 pupils achieved remarkable results with their ESB exams in the summer, with several students being awarded merit or distinction for their presentations.

Other successes were achieved in writing competitions with Young Writers and Year 7 and 8 entered BBC’s 500 Words competition led by Chris Evans and worked very hard to meet the strict word limit! Year 8 were also involved in interviews around Remembrance Day, interviewing either relatives or friends that had been involved in war.

This year we introduced English Ambassadors and have awarded subject badges to pupils that have shown aptitude and enthusiasm for our subject. They will be given roles in school including a reading mentoring scheme in the lower school, presentations on open days and display work within the department.

Years 6, 7 and 8 enjoyed a visit from renowned children’s author Caroline Lawrence, best known for her award-winning ‘The Roman Mysteries’ series of historical novels.  Caroline gave an inspirational talk about her stories, what motivates and interests her and how to build a story with five key pointers for the pupils to apply to their own work which entranced the children. Ms Lawrence had some extraordinary historical stories for the pupils, some very gory and others quite revolting but hugely entertaining! She also ran creative writing workshops for them which focussed on writing skills.  Our children rose to the challenge and created some fantastic stories that were displayed in the English corridor. Earlier in the term Year 11 went to the Globe Theatre for an incredible RSC performance of ‘Merchant of Venice’ as part of their IGCSE Literature studies; it was an extraordinary experience and really brought the play to life for our pupils, a huge success and no doubt a boost to their impressive results this summer.

Moving forwards, we have revised our class structure in response to parental concerns about class sizes and pupil teacher ratios. The department looked very closely at how best to meet the needs of our pupils without resorting to formal setting which historically led to oversized top sets and demoralised bottom sets. The new banding has provided an interesting mix to the classes while still achieving challenge and stretch. All Year 10 pupils will be entered into the IGCSE English Language and AQA English Literature exams.

We warmly welcome a new member of the team; Mr Mike Winkworth who will be teaching English to Years 6,7,8,9 and 10. Mr Winkworth is a former head of department and brings incredible knowledge and enthusiasm to the post.

We have an exciting year of competitions ahead such as Youth Speaks, ESB and Young Writers; the Autumn Term starts with a Year 7 trip to Harry Potter World as a cross curricular trip with History and it is our intention to visit The Globe and the British Library with other year groups later in the year.

Thank you parents for your continued support.