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9

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

attribute!

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

thoughtful readers.

Since the start of your teaching career

how would you say the curriculum has

advanced?

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

Rachael Austen

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

own

Beginners’ Booklet

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

in Classics.

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

Bardwell Road.

Classicists

develop very different

interests within it, but one

recurring theme is confidence