“A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.” – W.H. Auden, Squares and Oblongs.

Everyone is a poet. Each time you delight in the sound of a word or phrase you’ve just used, tell a joke, express how you feel in speech or in writing, you’ve committed an act of poetry: crafting words just so, to shape a human experience. English is the study of what it’s like to be human; it is about finding the poet in ourselves and appreciating it in others.

At Hampton Court House, we believe that the Early and Lower Years are where that journey towards everyday poetry really begins. We want to combine a wide-eyed sense of joyful discovery with real rigour, underpinning children’s natural delight in words with a solid foundation of knowledge and skill. We guide children patiently and happily in their language learning, exploring stories and spellings, etymologies and connections, challenges and enchantments. The canon of classic literature is a treasure house, and we use it to the full, while also exploring the new, and stretching our own creativity. (We also make full use of our expertise: children in the Lower Years can be, and are, taught by A Level teachers!)

That same ethos defines the HCH English department in the Middle, Upper, and Sixth Form years. As our young people grow, we continue to support their joy in learning with rigour and challenge. We sharpen their critical and analytical faculties with a thorough appreciation for the best that classic and modern literature – from the Anglophone world and beyond – has to offer. Students will read and write prose, drama, poetry and non-fiction while preparing for the supportive challenges of Common Entrance at 11 Plus and 13 Plus, and never losing sight of the pleasure and wonder of language and reading. All this is complemented by explorations in spoken language, rhetoric, debating, and the many new forms of written language which the digital age has brought us.

Naturally, this balanced approach provides an excellent grounding for public examinations. Our results are excellent: in 2019 93% of English Language GCSE grades were 7-9 (A*-A), with 83% of A Level grades at A*-B. But outstanding grades are only part of our story. Our aim is for every young person at Hampton Court House to emerge from their English studies a knowledgeable, humane, empathic, hard-working and skilful young adult. A poet, in other words: “passionately in love with language”, and ready to embark on a fulfilled and happy life.

Robert ArmigerBA PGCE
  • Head of English

HCH Recommended Book List

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‘A New Normal’ an original rap by George in Y7.

George in Year 7 is taking part in the Rose Theatre Endure project, where children were asked to write a monologue entitled “A New Normal”. George has used the stimulus to write an original, funny and beautifully honest rap about his time in the lockdown:

To my friends
... Lets talk about whats happening,

Without being too formal,
This new reality around us – is it a new normal?
I really do not like it – its restrictions and norms –
It causes frustration, rejection and rebellion of all forms!

You can’t go out , play games and hang out
No handshakes, embraces, kisses or messing around –
Sanitise, disinfect, sterilise and distance yourself
From friends, neighbours, town people and country elves,
Goblins , pirates and fellow teens – as all of them could be carriers of Covid 19!
Sounds like madness? Yes, you are right!
But we all have a choice – people rejoice,- and lets join the fight!
Staying at home is all we can do : I accept it, I get it
And hope you too. But….
Being stuck in the house feels totally pathetic,
Makes you feel useless, sulky and sometimes frenetic .
I can’t concentrate, read or write properly
I feel sleepy, slothy and quite often disorderly –
Neither can I jump with Joe Wicks every morning,
He is doing a great job, but sometimes I just find it boring.
Adult “ friends” will tell you to frame yourself and do your best-
Conversations help: even on zoom , face time or anywhere else.
I am really lucky to have “ meaningful relationship “ with my parents,
Some teachers, my dog Matilda – but , most importantly,
I cherish my friendships!
Old or new normal, with face masks or without ,
I am so lucky to have my friends , in and out!

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Nursery class enjoy a Christmas story by the Christmas tree

Nursery class took their daily storytelling time out of the classroom this morning and into the Main Hall to read a special Christmas story next to the Christmas tree. The pupils were full of festive spirit as they sat and listened to their English teacher Sage, all while wearing their festive red Father... Christmas Hats! Sage read the children two Christmas themed stories, one about a hedgehog who has realised he is a little under-prepared for Christmas and the other about a rabbit who sets off on an adventure to find Father Christmas and encounters many other animals on his way, all of whom help make his Christmas wishes come true.

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Y5 and Y6 Activities Day trip to Shakespeare’s Globe and Southbank

For Activities Day this year Year five and six spent the most wonderful day exploring both the contemporary culture of London’s Southbank and the sixteenth century history of Shakespeare’s Globe. We literally slid into the trip via Jeppe Hein’s colourful, playful ‘benches’ outside the Royal... Festival Hall! From here we stopped by the graffiti murals of the Southbank Centre’s iconic skatepark and watched some top-class street-skaters.

En route to the Globe we took the time to admire the London skyline view from Gabriel’s Wharf, the children pointing out ‘the gherkin’, ‘cheese grater’, ‘walkie-talkie’ and St Paul’s. For lunch we enjoyed a lovely picnic outside the front of The Tate Modern.

Arriving at The Globe Theatre to meet our guide, Tom, the children impressed him with their already vast knowledge of Shakespeare. Tom added to this with a whirlwind history of the theatre and its importance from 1599 to the present day! Inside we were lucky enough to see some of the actors warming up for that evening’s performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. Inspired, we went behind scenes to the actor rehearsal rooms to workshop the play itself, as a group we focused on a key scene between Demetrius and Helena, testing out various dramatic methods of conveying the emotions of love and rejection. The scene between the pairs of ‘lovers’ became rather heated…we look forward to a replay of this during next week’s middle-years assembly…

Finally the day was aptly rounded off with a performance of a different kind, as we strolled back along the Thames, we gathered around to watch a trio of street parkour experts back-flipping…not to be tried at home!

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Year 5 produce Lost Words artwork in co-curricular project

Our year 5 students have been working on a cross-curricular project between the Art and English departments to produce these beautiful words and images inspired by the prize winning book The Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris. Year 5 used gold paint to create iconic images which they combined... with their own words to evoke the spirit of the animal they chose to depict. Well done year 5, we think these are wonderful!

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Years 2 and 3 trip to Roald Dahl museum

On 11th June, Years 2 and 3 visited the Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden. Upon arrival, we set off on the village trail, highlighting many of the places that inspired Dahl’s wonderful stories. We saw the bedroom window that Sophie peeked out of to see the BFG and we visited the library where Matilda... read all those books! The trail led us, with the help of the BFG’s footprints, to Roald Dahl’s grave and the beautiful bench dedicated to his children. Although it was raining, the children really enjoyed the walk through this rather special village.

After lunch, everybody took part in a workshop called ‘Unlocking Ideas’. Through talks and activities in the museum galleries, the children learned more about the author and his life. They gained an insight into how he gathered all his ideas together to create his famous books, and even got to sit in Roald’s old chair from his writing hut.


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Year 2 visit to the British Museum

On Friday 10th May Year 2 visited the British Museum for a storytelling workshop. The children listened to an African folk story, before visiting the galleries to look at some artefacts from the continent. They then wrote individual mini books, featuring the beautiful objects seen. Back at school the children have been very busy editing and improving their stories and they are now on display in the Year 2 Classroom.

Early Years Pupils Celebrate World Book Day

Pupils in Pre-Nursery to Year 1 enjoyed dressing up as characters from their favourite book to celebrate World Book Day. The children presented their book recommendations during their English lessons and were read new stories by their teachers.