Upper School English

The poet W H Auden wrote that ‘poetry makes nothing happen.’  Yet poetry is a form of communication that requires clarity of thought, an effective diction and an understanding of aspects of the world, and yes, in its most effective form it is memorable and pervasive and therefore can make things happen.

At Devonshire House we try to honour this vision of poetry and writing, not by idolising writers but by thinking critically about their style and skill, and aspiring to be writers ourselves.  In this way we address the strands of the national curriculum in discussing and appraising writing, responding to their characters, themes and their vision.  A critical aspect of our work is developing knowledge of the grammar of English, spelling and vocabulary.

A carefully structured syllabus enhances the continuous learning of our students whilst also recognising their individual skills and providing appropriate levels of challenge.  Crucially, through steadily developing understanding of effective writing, pupils also acquire the comprehension and writing skills they need to achieve their potential in their entrance exams.

Two boys stood facing a row of books in the library of Devonshire House

National Poetry week in September saw each year having specially arranged lessons, including workshops at Keats House and with poet and playwright Phil Bowen, as well as performance poetry sessions.

We use a range of stimulus for our writing and were also joined by a poet up on Hampstead Heath.

Shakespeare Week in March saw each year group from Upper 4 to Upper 8 involved in publishing a specifically designated aspect of a book.  This examined the effect of Shakespeare’s work on the historical figure of Richard III and will be available to buy from June.  Year 6 also attended drama workshops at the Globe.

World Book Day is an established and colourful highlight of the year, involving students dressing as their favourite character from a book of their choice, with an emphasis on enjoyment and learning.