English

Rationale

English at Caldicott is a major subject, one in which we try to help each boy to achieve his full potential in both the use and understanding of the language. We also encourage him to appreciate the power and the beauty of the language in both written and spoken forms.

We aim specifically to help each boy achieve success at Common Entrance or Scholarship to the school of his choice, commensurate with his ability and aspirations.

Given that literature is at the very heart of English in Scholarship, Common Entrance and beyond, we aim to take a ‘book-centred’ approach to the teaching of English. Our intention is to engender a genuine interest in, and passion for, English; particularly reading and writing, both for study and for pleasure.

The nature of the subject is such that progress is recursive, rather than linear, and is based on developing skills rather than topic-specific knowledge. As such, the need for regular reinforcement of the basic skills is essential.

All boys gain experiences (actual or vicarious), which help their maturation, from intellectual challenge appropriate to their age and ability, through varied and appropriate reading materials, discussion, drama and writing.


Reading

Reading list for Caldicott boys

Reading is one of the most important things that boys do at Caldicott. The importance of building a wide vocabulary, the ability to command a correct and fluent syntax, enjoying the journeys that fictional stories can provide a young malleable mind, all combine to give a well-read child a greater sense of humanity, qualities of decency and goodness, a developed lively imagination and of course, a heightened awareness of effective communication between each other. The impact that it has on their writing is immeasurable.

There is a strong reading culture at Caldicott. Boys are often seen reading in their own time and seen wandering around the school with a book in hand. Boys in the early years (1st and 2nd form) are encouraged to read during their English lessons every morning. The reading of the Junior corridor boys is reinforced by the Friends of Caldicott on a weekly basis. With guidance from the class teacher, a rota of mums read with each Junior class. Teachers liaise with the mums on a regular basis about the development of children’s reading and, over the course of the year, mums develop a good knowledge of the reading level of the boys with whom they are reading and offer valuable support. This system is an important part of the progression of boys’ reading during the first two years at Caldicott.

Reading in the 3rd and 4th form is monitored in a similar way although they don’t have mothers into listen to them in the mornings.  This happens within their English lessons.

Once the boys begin boarding in the 5th form they have the opportunity to read upstairs in dormitory for 30 minutes most nights and there are two reading periods assigned during the time-tabled week. Free-reading in lessons is up to the discretion of the English teacher. Furthermore, Kindles are used, instead of books as class readers, to encourage reading. The boys are also allowed to bring their own Kindles into school.

 

Book Club

The Book Club is an evening activity, run by DCE, that seeks to extend the students’ reading and develop their enjoyment of books.  Crucially, the boys get to decide which books they read and discuss.  Books are suggested by members and then there is a democratic selection process.  The aim of the Book Club is to encourage choices that the members may not normally consider and the boys understand that unusual choices can lead to the most interesting discussions.  As well as focussing on one main book every two to three weeks, the members get to explore other areas of the literary world.  We analyse short stories, film clips, explore writers’ backgrounds and even try creating our own fictional worlds!


Parents’ Book Club

The aim of the parents’ book club is to further engender a love of reading in the boys that we teach. There are two parents’ book clubs that meet on a monthly basis. Each month we read two books, one that we feel should be appropriate for the boys and also an adult book. The parents’ book club has prompted good discussion about the books that we use in school, as well as providing parents with the opportunity to talk further with their sons about their reading. The book club is run by DCE and attended regularly by other members of the department.

News Archive

School plays

All year groups are involved in a school play or musical at some point during the school year.  The First Form take part in a Nativity Production The 2nd and 3rd Form production usually takes the form of a musical. The 4th Form put together a music and drama evening and the 5th and 6th Form Production is organised by the Head of English & Drama (AMH). Recent senior productions have included ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, ‘Bugsy Malone’ and ‘Under Milk Wood’.


Drama

With the recent introduction of Drama into the curriculum, for the 1st – 4th Forms, there is ample opportunity for all boys to learn and practise the skills of performance, as well as actually perform on stage during their school careers should they so wish.

It is nonetheless, important that drama is seen as a valuable aspect of our subject: role play, spontaneous and more formal scripted pieces should all be utilised in class for enjoyment and for enhancing empathy with characters.

Plays can serve as excellent alternatives to class readers.

Senior forms should be given the chance to write and perform some drama, often based upon characters or situations drawn from other material.


Theatre Trips

Theatre Trips are organised by AMH and Heads of Year for all boys in the 1st, 3rd and 5th Forms and there is always a theatre trip included in the 6th Form Leavers’ Programme. This ensures that, during their time at Caldicott, each boy gets to go on at least four visits to the theatre. Theatre trips are often taken to West End theatres, but sometimes we go to the Wycombe Swan or the Theatre Royal in Windsor. Recent trips have included ‘Matilda’ (1st Form) ‘The Railway Children’ (3rd Form), ‘Goodnight Mister Tom’ (5th Form) and ‘Journey’s End’ (6th Form).


Declamations 

The Annual Declamations competition is held every year at the beginning of the Spring Term.  Every boy chooses and learns by heart his piece before performing it in class from where those selected will progress to a semi-final in the Centenary Hall when they will perform before a panel of staff including the Headmaster. The best of these will be chosen for the final when they will perform before the whole school and many parents with an outside guest adjudicator. The 1st and 2nd form boys are not involved in this, but they hold their own similar competition in the Summer Term.


Argosy Club

The Argosy Club has traditionally been for boys in the 6th Form, although the 5th Form are invited on occasion. They listen to, and ask questions of, an invited specialist speaker. The meetings take place two or three times a year, sometimes more. Recent speakers have included; explorer Alex Hibbert, actor and Head of English and Drama at Haileybury Nigel Parkin and Colin Javens, a paraplegic who drove from London to Cape Town.


Book Fairs

Book fairs are organised by the librarian (JMKY) and held twice per academic year. One is run by Usborne Books and the other by The Gerrards Cross Bookshop; a bookshop local to Caldicott, which has longstanding links with the school.

They are always popular events and have proved to be a huge success with the boys, parents and siblings who visit them. Furthermore, the Book Fairs have helped in the purchase of thousands of pounds worth of books for the school’s departments, classrooms and libraries.


Author Visits

Author Visits are organised at various points throughout the year, often in conjunction with focus week. Author visits are organised by JMKY or AMH. Recent authors who have visited include Simon Scarrow, Chris Ryan and John Harris, the UK’s only full-time storyteller, as well as Simon Mayo and GP Taylor. During author visits, the author usually gives a talk to all of the boys in the school and runs creative writing workshops with some classes.


Workshops

Staff are often available to give extra help to boys and CJM is usually available in his classroom on most evenings.  AMH and DCE are also available in the evenings in the build-up to Common Entrance. On occasion, a visiting author or speaker may be invited to run a workshop. The boys are also taken out to Debating workshops at Wellington and The Oratory, alongside other workshops run by some of the Public Schools that we feed into.
 

Debating

Debating at Caldicott is seen as a key element of the curriculum and all boys get the chance to try out debating during lessons. There is a Debating Club for the 5th and 6th Form boys, run by HF. 2013 saw the introduction of the inaugural senior Inter-House debating competition, adjudicated by Nic Amy, the Head of Debating at Wellington College, and there a plans to involve the 3rd and 4th Form in more competitive debating in the near future. We send some of our 4th Form boys to The Oratory Senior School to take part in their Prep Schools Debating day and we also send some of our 5th Form boys to Wellington for their debating days. HF and the Headmaster also organise a debate with the girls of Godstow school.

 

Examinations

Formal assessments take place at various stages in the school year and there are four year-group assessments during the year for every boy in line with the school policy; two in the Autumn Term and one in each of the Spring and Summer Terms. The 6th Form take mock Common Entrance exams in the first week after February half-term. They take their final CE examinations during the Summer Term. The rest of the school sit exams towards the end of the Summer Term. These exams are set-based and therefore, members of staff who teach the forms are responsible for setting and marking that form’s exams. Grades boundaries are discussed with AMH.

Staff are encouraged to mark separate sections of assessment papers whenever possible and particularly for the CE mocks, to ensure accurate marking and fair moderation for each boy.