English and Drama

We believe that the study of English and Drama should develop pupils’ abilities to communicate effectively in speech and writing and to listen with understanding. It should also enable them to be enthusiastic, responsive and knowledgeable readers and communicators.

At West Hill Park, we believe that English and Drama should be fun, and we work with commitment towards that objective, with the light-hearted mantra ‘English is good for your health’. We pursue goals which are designed to support weaker pupils whilst stretching stronger academic candidates. Our study programmes combine a variety of innovative and stimulating activities with the fundamental disciplines of spelling and grammar. Our class and set sizes are ideal for English work: small enough to permit individual attention, yet large enough to provide stimulating discussions or group activity. Sometimes these sets are combined for certain activities such as Drama or project work such as ‘Voyages’ (in Year 7). By the time they leave West Hill Park, all pupils will have studied at least one Shakespeare play in detail and have knowledge of one or two more. They will also have learnt and recited several poems or extracts by heart, and presented talks or speeches to the rest of their group.

Presenting in Public

Speaking or reading in public or presenting work orally in class demands self-confidence and we place great emphasis at West Hill Park on developing this valuable skill. Pupils will be asked to give a talk about a book they have read, or a topic they have researched, or to read aloud a first draft of a piece of creative writing before proceeding to a second draft. Senior pupils are asked to present the readings or lessons at our various chapel services. As a recent initiative, pupils in Year 7 have been given the chance to take part in a ‘Model United Nations’ conference at Clayesmore Senior School, involving a wide range of discussion and debating skills.

The annual ‘Poetry and Prose Showcase’ gives all pupils in Years 1-8 the opportunity to present in public, whether individually or in groups.

Drama

Drama represents an essential part of the English syllabus at all levels throughout the school, whether in role-play as part of an exercise in class, or (for pupils in Year 6 upward) when studying a particular play, or when taking part in one of the termly productions.

There are several school productions each year:

  • the nativity Christmas production by Years 1 and 2, involving all forty-five to fifty pupils;
  • the main prep school production in the Spring Term for pupils in Years 5 to 8, which typically involves around fifty/sixty children, anyone wishing to take part being guaranteed a role, with some pupils preferring to participate backstage as stagehands, lighting or sound crew; this tends to alternate year-by-year between being a musical and a non-musical play - ‘Henry the Tudor Dude’ 2013, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ 2014, ‘Oliver!’ 2015, ‘Caucasian Chalk Circle’ 2016;
  • a (generally musical) production in the Summer Term for all pupils in Years 3 and 4 (typically around seventy pupils) - ‘Oink’ 2014, ‘Pirates vs Mermaids’ 2015.

Rehearsal time for these productions tends to be limited to a Saturday morning activity a week (90 minutes) and to break times mid-morning and after lunch.

There are also visiting drama workshops run by professional practitioners for Years 3 to 6, as well as in-house drama workshops for Years 6, 7 and 8 as part of our study programme.

In the academic year 2014-2015, we introduced the facility for pupils to take the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) exams at West Hill Park at various levels from ‘Entry’ to Grade 5 in Acting and Speaking Verse and Prose, with around 25 pupils taking these exams. Recent results saw all entrants gaining 'Merit' or 'Distinction'.

The school is handsomely equipped with a fully-functional stage (in the form of the Jubilee Hall), with versatile lighting and sound, and a backstage area.

Library

The Library, regularly visited by all the different year groups, is spread across two rooms - fiction and non-fiction - and is the focal point for personal study, as well as being used for teaching and discussion. Moreover, our pupils, who help run the Library, ensure that we are always swift to stock the latest and most stimulating Fiction and Non-Fiction. There is an experienced member of staff designated as the School Librarian.

 

Featured Content

Forthcoming Productions:

Years 3 and 4 are currently in rehearsals for their end of term production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.