Block 5 at BISL has seen English in the spotlight, and it has been a busy one for sure, with our English department creating a plethora of activities and events across the school in both Primary and Secondary.

The activities have engaged students from Year 13 all the way down to Early Years, from Zoom book readings celebrating World Book Day, spelling bees, competitions and much more. This block has also incorporated many important days into the English theme such as Pust, St. David’s Day (Patron Saint of Wales), International Women’s Day, and Shakespeare Week. Most importantly, we hope students have had fun this block, and enjoyed embracing the pleasure that is literature.

Firstly, we started our English block with a Pust/Pancake Day related Haiku competition. Pust is one of the most important days in the Slovene calendar, and what a better way to celebrate the multitude of cultures at BISL than having a traditional Japanese poetry battle about different Pust related cultures from around the world from our students. You can read some of the brilliant haikus here:

Following on from Pust, across the school we celebrated World Book Day, where Primary students brought in prompts for show and tell, to share with their classes how much they love their favourite book and why, whilst the Secondary school wrote book reviews and had a chance to reflect on their favourite book. Our Sixth Form students made Zoom recordings of readings of children's books to share with our Early Years and Key Stage 1 students, filming themselves reading children’s books, complete with toys and actions to be screened to their youngest peers in school. At BISL, cross-school collaborations are hugely important, and it was wonderful seeing so many Sixth Formers getting involved and we can see them blossoming into wonderful role models for the next generation.

That wasn't all for World Book Day – we also had a competition throughout the Secondary school, where students had to match each teacher to their favourite book – it was a fun one for sure, House points were given to all those who took part and a treat for the winner who got the most right. To combine World Book Day with International Women’s Day a few days later, our English department put up posters celebrating famous female authors around the school, encouraging students to get reading, and to increase their breadth and depth of knowledge about literature.

You can read more about World Book Day here:

You can also read some fabulous book reviews from our Secondary students here:

Also, here is an outstanding book review from Enja in Year 10, about a book of her choice:

In order to encourage a healthy competitive spirit in an academic subject, our English department created 3 competitions: story writing, poetry writing and a spelling bee. The story writing competition saw an outstanding response, with over 30 students in Secondary submitting their short stories to be judged by our Year 13 English Literature students. It was certainly difficult to pick a winner, but a huge well done to Aidan in Year 10 and Maria in Year 9. Our poetry competition was judged by our Year 12 English Language students, which also had many fantastic entries from Year 7 through Year 13, and a huge well done to Ema in Year 9 who also took the prize.

You can read their short stories and poems below:

Our Spelling Bee was a bit more competitive, we had a Primary spelling bee, a Secondary one and even a teacher spelling bee. The first spelling bee was a teacher-led competition, where students placed ‘bets’ for House points on teachers to win. Students also selected the words and emailed them through, with many incredibly difficult words being chosen, but our English department’s Mr. Eve getting them all correct, including the impossible pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. A special mention to our student judges from Year 9, Begum, Ema and Maria, who had to learn how to pronounce the difficult words chosen to test their teachers' spelling ability.

Following the teacher spelling bee, each Form nominated two students to represent them and go head to head, in a total of 3 rounds, where the winner of each Key Stage would face the undefeated Mr. Eve. A huge well done to Izzy from Year 8 for winning round 1 in KS3, and Ryan from Year 7 winning round 2, and Julia from Year 10 winning both round 1 and 2 for KS4. The final was a tie between Julia and Ryan, with Mr. Eve remaining undefeated. Congratulations to all who took part!

To end our English block on a high, it was International Shakespeare Week, celebrated through a whole-school challenge. Photos and quotations from famous Shakespeare plays were put up around the school, with students given the challenge to match each one to the play. This was a tricky challenge, with perhaps some of the teachers getting more competitive than the students. Students certainly learned a lot about Shakespeare from this fun treasure hunt, and we were glad to see so many students intrigued and embracing Shakespeare.

Our English department encouraged students to embrace their dramatic side too this Block, with Years 9, 10, and 11 having the chance to act out shortened versions of some of the Bard’s most famous plays. It is important to have fun in school through learning, especially after the period of learning. Acting out the plays was a great way for students to connect to each other and have a hands-on interactive experience learning Shakespeare. For the first time in Ms. O’Regan’s teaching career, she had students asking her for more Shakespeare!

Want to hear some live Shakespeare? Check out these readings of Shakespeare from our Sixth Form English Literature students.

You can read more about our Shakespeare Week here:

Finally, we would like to thank all students and staff across the school for getting so involved with the range of activities this block, and a special thank you to our English department for putting together a fantastic variety of initiatives for everyone to get involved in. As we now hand over the baton to the Science departments for the theme of Block 6, we hope next year we can make the English block even bigger and better.

[Exit, pursued by a bear]**

** The exit pursued by a bear is a line from Winter’s Tale (Shakespeare), and was part of our Shakespeare hunt around school.