Literacy Thrives at Junior Girls' School
Thursday, 09 July 2015
The calendar of English events for Junior Girls promotes a love of language and literature, from celebrating National Poetry Day to being entertained by the Young Shakespeare Company, participating in World Book Day, public speaking using English Speaking Board (ESB), and a wealth of other in-school clubs, activities and events.
At the start of the year, new pupils arriving into Year 3 are invited to Scrabble and Word Play club where they engage in exciting group competitions which help them to improve their spelling and vocabulary through play and interaction. They are also given the challenge to participate in Reading Rewards Recognition: girls learn a poem off by heart, recite it to their class, and speak persuasively about a book they have read. Years 4, 5 and 6 also engage in an array of creative activities to achieve Bronze, Silver and Gold status in the Reading Award Scheme. Aspiring and avid readers may accept the challenge of pursuing Platinum status in the same award. The Book Fair provides the opportunity to savour new reads, and is always an exciting event on the school calendar.
English Coordinator Mary Worsley added, “For girls interested in drama and theatre, the Young Shakespeare Company visit each autumn term; this event is perhaps one of the most memorable of the school year. All of the girls have the opportunity to adopt a role within this drama. Later in the school year, Year 6 girls have the challenge of studying a Shakespeare story in detail, which they use to devise their own scripts for performance in the Girls’ Division Theatre.”
The English Speaking Board (ESB) examinations in Year 6 promote and assess excellence in public speaking. Four areas are assessed: the oral presentation of a topic of interest, recitation of a poem, reading aloud and listening and responding within a participating group. Year on year, pupils achieve highly in all areas, with many girls receiving Distinction grades. The topics discussed are diverse and have included the Hallé Children’s Choir, Girls in Chess, Motor Neurone Disease, Coronation Street, Egyptian Burials, and the Women’s Suffrage Movement.
To encourage the skill of writing many opportunities are presented to the girls. This year’s national Young Writers 100 Word Mini Saga competition entries exemplified some super creative writing talents. Winning entries have been published in ‘Once Upon A Time – Tales From Lancashire’ September 2015. The girls also had their waterfall-themed poems featured in ‘Speaking English’, an international professional magazine published by ESB. The poems were written as part of their John Muir Award for conservation: the Year 6 girls explored Aira Force and then shared their experience in poetry form, using the location and William Wordsworth’s poem of the same name as inspiration.
Aspiring writers have also been involved with the Pyrate Competition, run by the School Librarian, Mrs M Howarth. The competition, inspired by E. B. Colin’s latest novel Pyrate’s Boy (shortlisted for the 2015 Bolton Children’s Fiction Award), was the book used as stimulation for writing; a pyrate’s box, ‘washed up’ in the Junior Girls’ Library, was the prop used – girls had to imagine who it belonged to and what might be inside. Responses were amazingly creative in words and presentation. E. B. Colin visited the School in June to present an assembly for pupils and to meet with the competition entrants and prizewinners over lunch.
A number of annual national events promoting literacy are celebrated and are run throughout the year: for National Poetry Day in early October, Year 6 pupils adopt the role of Performance Poets and many girls are inspired to write poems as a result of the festivities, and World Book Day provides all pupils in the school with the opportunity to dress as a character from a book and through this activity they exchange their book recommendations with peers. This year, the girls built a wall of ‘Literary Bricks’, each containing a personal book recommendation. The ‘Bricks’ showcase the wide variety of genres and themes that provide interest to the girls. These range from humorous modern tales to the classics.
All in all, the English calendar of events provides a rich diet of activities in speaking and listening, reading and writing.
Click the play button to watch a selection of the Year 6 girls’ ESB presentations and poetry recitals: