Our ethos

To develop an appreciation of the beauty and power of English language and literature and to promote confidence and ability in an integrated programme of speaking, listening, reading and writing. In doing so we help to develop and maintain a strong skills base, where pupils cultivate the craft of writing and are confident handling literary texts. We facilitate challenge and exploration through the study of poetry, non-fiction and fiction, using literature as a basis for challenging stereotypes and to develop empathy. Each year at Dunhurst has distinct outcomes but builds on the previous year’s work.

Our aim

To make the exploration of English language and literature a challenging and exciting experience... 

  • To make the exploration of English language and literature a challenging and exciting experience 
  • To encourage pupils to express themselves creatively and imaginatively and to communicate with others effectively 
  • To develop pupils as enthusiastic and critical readers of stories and poetry as well as non-fiction and media texts 
  • For pupils to develop an understanding of how language works through the study of English and by looking at its patterns, structures and origins 
  • For pupils to use this knowledge to become able to select and adapt what they say and write in different situations


We aim to develop pupils’ abilities within an integrated programme of reading, writing, speaking and listening. Throughout Groups (Yrs 4-6) and Blocks (Yrs 7-8)  topics are taught termly or half-termly. In each of these topics elements of fiction, non-fiction and poetry will be studied. 

In Groups, English is also linked with a topic and much of the writing is based around their topic learning.

Enjoyment in reading, the sharing of ideas and a sense of purpose and value in their own writing will develop children’s literacy more than anything; these are at the centre of our practice.

In each year's work:

  • there is an appropriate balance of reading, writing, talking and listening;
  • there is an appropriate variety of audience and purpose in pupils' written and oral work;
  • pupils work in a variety of groupings;
  • opportunity is given for thorough preparation, drafting, editing and correction of written work;
  • clear presentation and effective lay-out are emphasised;
  • skills are taught explicitly and reinforced through tasks

Differentiated provision in English is provided in all areas and is supported in a high percentage of lessons across the school by the Head of Academic Support & Gifted and Talented, working with small groups within lessons and on a withdrawal basis. The department sets differentiated preps and activities and supports each child as an individual, encouraging independent and inquisitive learning. High achievers are given further challenges such as responsibility for leading lessons and researching extended projects and all pupils are encouraged to read and join Book Clubs tailored to their level.


Children are encouraged to take part in country wide events such as ‘Readathon’, 'Poetry Slam' and 'BBC Radio 2's 500 words' alongside school, local and national reading and writing competitions.

Pupils are encouraged to deliver assemblies to the whole school, write e-serials, take part in producing the school newsletter, join Book Clubs, and come along to writers clubs and events, as just some of the additional opportunities available.

We also have regular visits by outside speakers, authors, poets and visiting theatre groups. Recent speakers have included authors Andy Stanton and Sally Nicholls.

To complement their studies, children visit the Olivier Theatre here at Bedales to see different plays, as well as local theatres and occasionally London theatres too.

Watch a collaboration between the Art and English departments for the 'Library of Ideas' exhibition held in Salisbury in 2017:

Progression to Block 3 at Bedales

There is close contact between Dunannie, Dunhurst and Bedales to ensure a smooth progression from and to each. An excellent working relationship exists and we meet to discuss plans and share ideas. 

Find out about Block 3 English at Bedales. 

View a short overview of English at all three Bedales Schools:

Reading lists

During the summer holiday, pupils are encouraged to keep reading.

The lists below were compiled primarily by Dunhurst's Librarian Laura, with a wide range of book suggestions for every age to read before the Autumn term.

Head of Blocks' & Groups' EnglishNichola Gotel