“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

Related News

Year 1 welcome Celine Cousteau, granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau

During the most recent lockdown, Year 1 had a guest speaker in their English lessons, Celine Cousteau, the granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau, inventor of SCUBA diving equipment.

Earlier in the term, our lower years English teacher, Jacqui read The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino... to the children and, as a result, one of our lovely Year 1 parents, organised the meeting for us as she knows Celine.

Céline S. Cousteau is a socio-environmental advocate and public figure. She is known for her work as a documentary film director, producer, explorer, artist, public speaker, brand ambassador and designer, and is a frequent panelist at the United Nations in New York.

During the lesson, Celine talked about her family and their work and told the children about her expeditions and film making in the Amazon. The children were able to ask her questions and see some of her photographs and video clips. Celine explained to the children that Indigenous tribes around the world make up just 5% of the world’s human population but are the guardians of 80% of the world’s biodiversity. It was a privilege to meet her and we await the release of her film ‘Tribes on the Edge’ in the UK with great excitement.




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Year 3 Poetry Recital

Before the Christmas holiday, Year 3 were given a special New Year poetry challenge: to practise and, if possible, learn by heart a New Year poem, to be read or recited in our first week back. Undeterred by lockdown, we held the recital over Zoom, and the children rose to the occasion magnificently! We... heard beautiful, sensitive readings of Tennyson’s magnificent “Ring Out, Wild Bells”, and several children even learned Matt Goodfellow’s lovely “Poem for a New Year” by heart – a real undertaking! Their recitations were sensitive and moving, and all the more impressive considering they were done from memory. Well done, Year 3 – and Happy New Year! The photograph shows the Head of English on a Zoom lesson with Year 3.

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Year 4 pupils create their own paper peepshows

In recent weeks Year 4 have been studying the text ‘Journey to the River Sea’, by Eva Ibbotson. The adventure story, set primarily in Brazil, has provided the inspiration for their latest project in their art lessons too. The students have learned about the development of the ‘paper peepshow’... – a form of book developed in the Victorian era to create tiny, portable scenes. The students chose a description from the text to inspire their design, and made several ‘slides’ to place into their concertinaed book.

Showcasing their excellent drawing skills and wonderful imaginations, whilst learning about perspective and paper folding, the students have created some truly beautiful books.

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Year 4 meet popular children’s writer Andy Cope

On Thursday, Year 4 had the opportunity to talk with Andy Cope, a writer of children’s books, including the popular Spy Dog and Spy Pups series. Earlier in the term Eleanor in Y4 had written to Andy, asking him if we could meet him and his dog Lara, the inspiration behind the Spy Dog books. Happily... he agreed and so we learned about Andy’s route into writing, via dreams of being a professional footballer and time spent as a teacher. He explained how his rescue dog, Lara, came to be the heroine of his books. One day he was staring at her sleeping whilst watching a James Bond film. One of her ears was typically sticking up while the other one lay flat and he started to wonder about what she was listening out for. Could she be receiving secret information? The idea grew from that and Lara is now famous. She even made a brief appearance on our screen during the chat! After answering lots of questions and listening to Mia’s poem about Lara, Andy challenged Year 4 students to do a piece of creative writing, to be judged later in the term. Watch this space!

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Observing Remembrance Day at school

This week our community has been taking part in Remembrance Day activities.
Pupils in Year 2 listened to stories in their English lessons about different heroes who fought or contributed to the war effort. Children in Daycare and Pre-Nursery learned about Remembrance Day and why we all wear poppies on... this special day to help us remember the heroes that fought in wars. The children have been creating poppies by painting egg cup boxes using red paint which was quite tricky and fiddly. The children were encouraged to use a paintbrush to paint inside the egg cup shape and outside too. Once dried, the children all took turns gluing the poppy shaped egg cups onto a large round piece of card to form a beautiful wreath.

At 11 am on 11th November the school community observed a two minute silence to remember those who lost their lives in war and conflict.
The children in the early years also watched a short animation clip from CBeebies which is a 2 minute alternative for our silence about about a rabbit, and it’s family on Flanders field.

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The lower years half term reading challenge

Students in Years 1 to 4 really enjoyed completing a reading challenge during half term. The challenge involved a number of tasks, such as reading in a den, reading a book that was published in the year they were born and reading aloud in a funny voice. They also designed their own book covers and their... fabulous designs will be displayed on the walls of the Lower Years reading room for all the children to see.

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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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