At Pilgrims’ we seek not only to provide each and every boy with a thorough grounding in all aspects of literacy, but moreover to engender a passion for reading and a genuine and lasting appreciation of literature.


Starting in Reception, boys are encouraged to use a correct pencil grip and learn from the outset to write in a cursive script, with time spent developing good handwriting habits. Role-play and drama are used to tease ideas and story plans from the boys as they develop their creative writing skills and grow as independent writers. Inspiration for creative output is often sought outdoors, and indeed "poem and story making" is a hugely popular and important Forest School activity.

Throughout their time at Pilgrims’, pupils are taught to recognise the importance of clear, cogent communication. They will write for a range of audiences, selecting and adapting forms to suit their purpose. Experimentation with writing styles, including narrative, discursive, persuasive, and descriptive writing, is underpinned with rigorous focus on the mechanics of grammar, spelling and presentation. Pupils are encouraged to take a reflective approach to their own work, identifying and evaluating techniques as they develop as writers.




Reading at The Pilgrims' School is sacrosanct. Every day, throughout the whole school we have 'sit down', a time set aside and safeguarded for reading, either individually or as a class.

The Pre-Prep reading scheme is of our own creation, devised specifically to engage boys in the process of reading. Titles are carefully selected and a wide range of styles presented, including many non-fiction works (which often capture a boy's interest more easily than fiction). Discussion is an essential part of learning to read, and we encourage our emerging readers to use predictive and reasoning skills while chatting about the pictures and story lines in their books.

In the Prep, pupils are taught to analyse the impact and effect of writers’ language choices, and to employ relevant critical vocabulary when doing so. In the senior years, this detailed close reading is enriched with broader study of the social and historical contexts in which the literature was written. Junior boys often shadow the Greenaway Medal award, and  a good number of boys participate in a school book club, as indeed do their parents.

Enrichment activities complement classroom teaching: visits by established and emerging authors motivate and inspire, with boys gaining invaluable insights into the writer’s craft through workshops and discussion. Theatre trips offer an added dimension, bringing the page to the stage in exciting and accessible productions.

Speaking and Listening

Speaking and listening skills are honed through structured classroom discussion and lively debate, and are greatly enhanced by visits from professional speakers. The school’s annual speech competition sees boys competing to engage and enthuse audiences, delivering speeches on a topic of their own choice that they have researched and written themselves.  Juniors are encouraged to enter the poetry recital, while senior boys may choose to join the debating Commoner and participate in schools’ debating events. Boys of all years will read or speak in assemblies, at the school's services in the Cathedral or College Chapel, and many senior boys will gain invaluable experience of independent communication when showing visitors around the school.