D R A G O N S T O D AY S P R I N G 2 0 1 6
D R A G O N P R O F I L E
Why is it so important for children to
study English in order to help them in
their professional adult life?
The ability to communicate effectively,
infer accurately and respond appropriately
is vital to a child’s development and
subsequent contribution to society.
The study of literature helps to develop
sensitivity and empathy and the ability
to understand and manipulate language
empowers and liberates children. We
aim to excite and enthuse children
about language and literature and much
emphasis is placed on discussion and the
formation of individual opinions. We also
strive to make the children good listeners,
an essential but often undervalued
In the Dragons’ dynamic teaching
timetable what has been your favourite
topic to teach?
I love teaching all genres of literature.
Shakespeare is always a winner as the
stories are terrific and the language so
rich and rewarding. I enjoy teaching
how to spot metaphors and symbolism
which makes analysing poetry such fun.
Reading and performing playscripts allows
everyone to participate and children
love experimenting with accents and
characterisation. At scholarship level,
analysing extracts from nineteenth century
novels is a real joy, especially when it’s a
fabulous slice of Jane Austen.
How does teaching of English vary
academically from E – A Block?
We teach the same skills throughout the
years but we cover them in greater depth
and detail as the child progresses through
the school (and this is true through senior
school). The concepts of characterisation,
setting, atmosphere, dialogue and so on
can be taught initially through Roald Dahl
and Michael Morpurgo, for example,
through to Hardy and Shakespeare. As they
move through the School, we encourage
children to develop greater independence
of thought and to become discerning and
Since the start of your teaching career
how would you say the curriculum has
The core skills haven’t changed but the
emphasis on each strand varies cyclically.
What has changed is the vast range of
children’s and young adult fiction now
being published which makes helping
children enjoy reading so much easier.
At Common Entrance, the move away
from studied literature has meant we are
freer to choose our own texts which is very
liberating and the move to assessing letter
and speech writing is more geared towards
GCSE and, indeed, adult life.
P r o f i l e
Head of English
Dragons’ enthusiasm for Latin has other
outlets: in last term’s Vocab Express League
of Champions (an online, UK-wide vocab
competition open to schools of all sizes
and ages). The Dragon came second for
Latin, beating many larger senior schools.
Dragons are also happy to spread Classics
beyond the confines of school. Dr Norton
started “Latin In The Community” some
years ago to enable Dragons to take Latin
to children of similar ages in other schools.
Current children are using the Dragon’s
to teach their peers
at St Aloysius while we are also looking to
engage with the Iris Project, a University
initiative to interest more children
So what do Dragons get from learning
Classics? The subject enjoys an inclusive
breadth; there is something for everyone.
Classicists develop very different interests
within it, but one recurring theme is
confidence: being able to dismantle a
word and know how it was made, consider
a statement or a question and know if it
makes sense or not and why, and even
examine society, with its politics, its art and
its institutions, and know where the roots
of all these things lie.
Dragons continue to relish the challenges
of acquiring this knowledge and precision,
and bring verve and energy to their lessons.
The Classics are alive and well in
develop very different
interests within it, but one
recurring theme is confidence