The study of English has always been central to a Dulwich College education and remains at the heart of the Junior School curriculum. Pupils in Years 3 to 5 have 55 minutes of English a day. Year 6 boys have seven lessons of English a week.
Our aim is to create a life-long love of the subject, beginning with reading, writing, speaking and listening in a stimulating, engaging and enjoyable context. Although the programme of study is based on the National Curriculum, many of the boys are able to work at a level beyond the expectations for their age group. By the end of Year 5 boys will begin to prepare for the College 11+ examination which takes place in the January of their final year in the Junior School. By the time the boys progress to Year 7 they are confident in their ability as readers and writers.
Boys are encouraged to become enthusiastic, independent and reflective readers. As they progress through the school they are introduced to an increasingly wide variety of literary materials and enrichment activities. The timetable includes a regular lesson for each class in the Junior School Library, which has a full-time librarian to inspire and encourage them in all aspects of reading. All boys are expected to read independently both at school and at home and have the opportunity to borrow from our extensive range of books on any day of the school week. In addition, we have book clubs, storytelling sessions, visits by authors and our annual Book Week to promote a love of reading.
During their time in the Junior School, the boys are given the opportunity to write across a broad variety of projects. While we help them to develop a vivid, creative imagination we also provide a range of stimulus material including children’s literature, poetry, film and art. Regular theatre visits and workshops are arranged to support their curriculum work. For example, the Year 6 boys’ annual visit from The Young Shakespeare Company introduces them to a Shakespeare play through a lively performance workshop. Writing allows the boys to express themselves while developing key skills for organising and communicating ideas. Marking is constructive, with plenty of encouragement and advice. We provide specific individual targets to help the boys make clear and understandable progress towards excellence. Grammar, spelling and punctuation, meanwhile, are emphasised as an important foundation of all writing. The boys are taught to use grammar correctly, to punctuate properly and to develop accurate spelling. All boys have weekly spelling lists as part of their homework. We also encourage good handwriting and help the boys to achieve a legible script as a matter of course.
Speaking and Listening
Boys are encouraged to express themselves clearly and evaluate the ideas of others through a variety of class discussions, assemblies, personal talks, debates, outings, visiting speakers and drama. During their time in the Junior School the boys are expected to talk, listen and respond appropriately and with increasing confidence. All boys are given the opportunity to speak and perform in front of a larger audience in assemblies, concerts and plays.