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 98% pass rate 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.

We entered ‘Read for My School’ with Years 6-8 and Ballard students received many awards for their extraordinary efforts. Other successes were achieved in writing competitions with Young Writers; several pupils from years7-9 were published in a poetry anthology titled, ‘War of Words’ and short stories from the same year groups were also published. 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 involved in interviews around Remembrance Day, interviewing either relatives or friends that had been involved in war; two pupils have been chosen to have their interviews published in Walkers Books, ‘Book of WW2 Experiences’.

Years 6, 7 and 8 enjoyed ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ performed on the terrace by Quantum Theatre Company. We were very lucky that it was an absolutely beautiful day; it was a lively and imaginative production, five actors playing more than one role, with a great soundtrack and some interesting dance moves!

Within the classroom we have been able to furnish two of the English classrooms with IT facilities which has afforded greater versatility during lesson time and given pupils regular access to word processing and research if needed. We have also focussed our attention on displaying the pupils’ work to celebrate their achievement and showcase their efforts and have a vibrant collection of displays to inspire the pupils both inside and out of the classrooms.

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 English Literature exams at the extended level.

We warmly welcome a new member of the team; Mr Simon Ong will be teaching English to Years 6,7,8,9 and 10. Mr Ong is passionate about the subject and brings real 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.