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The English Department at The Beacon is divided into four sections: Pre-Prep, Years 3 & 4, Years 5 & 6 and Years 7 & 8. We have an English coordinator in two of these sections and the departmental head who oversees the whole school, along with the Middle and Upper School in particular.

Teachers in the English Department consider the English curriculum to be a working document, because it is constantly reviewed and revised in order to implement new ideas and to accommodate year groups with specific needs.

The teachers in the department work closely with the Learning Skills team and classes may have teaching assistants or specialist learning support teachers working with targeted groups of boys or with individuals who are experiencing difficulties with literacy, and for the more able students we take the subject to a higher level.

Similarly, English teachers at The Beacon are fortunate to work with a professional, full time librarian who is involved in guided reading lessons and specific library lessons for the whole school, including Pre-Prep. We have been delighted with the Accelerated Reading Programme, which we introduced in 2015. Boys from Years 5 to 8 participate in this, with the occasional Year 4 boy being invited to join if assessed to be ready by his class teacher. 

Classes from Year 7 and Year 8 are put into sets for English, thus giving the lower ability boys smaller teaching groups and enabling the teachers to extend the most able students. There is a history of excellent results in English examinations to senior schools and boys who transfer to grammar schools usually perform well in English.

Understanding of text is supported by the Drama department in cross-curricular projects, which have recently included a performance based on 'Macbeth' in Year 5, and dramatisations of  'A Midsummer Night's Dream' in Year 7 and ‘Lord of the Flies’ in Year 8. We have previously participated in the Shakespeare Schools Festival where Year 7 and 8 boys worked together on extracts from ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Julius Caesar’ culminating in performances at the Wycombe Town Hall.

In addition, oracy and discussion skills as well as confidence in public speaking and presenting are nurtured by both departments throughout the school. 

Nikki Olhausen
Head of English, 
Director of Studies