From Nursery onwards, we believe that strong foundations in English are absolutely critical as life skills and academic skills. Hence from the earliest years we work hard with children on their reading and their writing. Their use of phonics, their pencil grip, their letter formation receive a great deal of attention to ensure that the children's progress is never impeded by faulty basics.
As the children move through the school, the tools of English become more complex, but our desire to build mastery of every aspect of the language is undiminished. Reading is an especially strong element of our primary school. At the BOS reading is valued, it is encouraged and it is praised. We listen to children read every day, we discuss their reading with them, we assess their reading regularly and we move them on to more challenging books when they are ready.
At the heart of our reading strategy is comprehension. Successful reading is less about how much and how quickly; it is more about how much did I understand and what questions do I have? Even better, reading should be challenging. These elements shape the mindsets of analysis and enquiry; they define a thoughtful approach.
It is common to hear English teachers remark that the more children read, the better they will write. This will certainly be true if a child's reading is challenging and their approach thoughtful. In this way children will be able to infuse their own writing with the style and vocabulary that they have encountered elsewhere.
Some years ago, many schools in the UK decided to encourage the supposedly modern attribute of creativity in writing. This is something that we strongly support. Unfortunately, they often did so at the expense of more traditional skills such as good spelling, grammatical accuracy, appropriate punctuation and even good handwriting. The relegation of traditional skills we do not support.
At the BOS we do not view the modern and the traditional as trade-offs. Creative ideas are better understood when spelt correctly and punctuated appropriately; good grammar does not inhibit the generation of creative ideas.
Finally, we want our children to be able to write creatively, accurately and legibly. No matter that every child knows how to use a smartphone or an i-pad, they should still be able to write well with handwriting of which they are proud. Thus, from Year 1 onwards children learn the discipline of cursive handwriting.