The English Department aims to give boys the confidence to express themselves clearly and creatively in a range of contexts whilst inspiring a life-long appreciation of literary works. Boys’ creativity is nurtured through imaginative compositions and poetry, and they are also equipped with the knowledge and skills to write with technical accuracy. All boys have access to a library with a wide and up-to-date range of texts. The Accelerated Reader programme operates from Year 3, and this initiative provides boys with regular feedback about their progress, so that they are able to make informed choices when selecting books. Accelerated Reader is made available via laptops and tablets, where there are quizzes for every book assessing reading comprehension in a fun and accessible way. The Durston Literary Festival is an annual highlight and whole-school celebration. Visiting authors, dramatic performances, writing workshops and book-making stimulate boys’ interest in literature. All boys practise their public speaking skills in preparation for the Verse-Speaking Competition. The English Department seeks to provide all boys with a confident command of English, spoken and written, facilitated by challenging and thought-provoking lessons.


All boys are encouraged to develop the habit of regular reading through graded reading books and weekly library-based English lessons. Comprehension skills of both fiction and non-fiction texts are developed and the boys are increasingly encouraged to talk about what they read. We practise a variety of story writing genres and other forms of writing, such as instructions and recounts. The boys compose their own poems, looking carefully at how to craft images using adventurous vocabulary and descriptive language. They are encouraged to write more technically and express their ideas fluently whilst adopting the use of a range of punctuation. The basics of English Grammar are taught weekly. Speaking and Listening skills are developed across the curriculum and Drama is integrated in lessons with teachers incorporating role play, performance and other techniques to enhance the educational experience.

Junior School

The boys are exposed to a rich variety of literature in the Junior School. They enjoy time reading in the well-resourced Junior School library and make full use of Accelerated Reader. In class, the boys practise story writing, character descriptions and other forms of writing, such as persuasive writing and play scripts. They compose their own poems, looking carefully at how to bring images to life using figurative language. Technical writing ability is honed through the discrete study of English Grammar. Accurate punctuation is also taught so boys gain confidence in using a range of punctuation marks in their own compositions. Junior School boys will become familiar with several key authors including Roahl Dahl, Michael Morpurgo, Jill Tomlinson and Jacqueline Wilson. Several workshops and Outings, including to the Roald Dahl Museum and the Harry Potter Museum, provide a rich learning experience.

Middle School

The boys are encouraged to develop the habit of reading through their participation in the Accelerated Reader programme and their weekly library-based English lesson, leading to a lasting enjoyment and appreciation of literature. Boys’ skills in the comprehension of both fiction and non-fiction texts are developed and they are increasingly encouraged to question and criticise what they read. Writing in different genres for a variety of purposes and audiences is practised. There is strong emphasis on accuracy of written expression, and skills in punctuation and spelling are reviewed and developed. Grammar work develops the pupils’ understanding of the English language, which enables them to express themselves more effectively. The boys study novels and stories by significant authors such as Berlie Doherty, Ian Serraillier and Robert Louis Stevenson. Boys compose their own poems, looking carefully at how to craft images, using similes and metaphors.

Upper School

In Years 7-8 boys read fluently, avidly and with good comprehension. They develop the habit of reading from a broad range of material for both enjoyment and the acquisition of knowledge. Good reading habits enable the boys to write clearly, with precision of meaning, adapting linguistic conventions for a range of genres, purposes and audiences. Discussion of literature is encouraged so that the boys can write with empathy and understanding about its universal themes. All boys study classic literary works from a range of writers, poets and playwrights, including Shakespeare. They become competent at analysing the form as well as the content of such literature, and in doing so, come to articulate a personal response to their reading. Such valuable reading experiences facilitate mature written compositions and the boys become skilled essay writers across a range of text types.