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English is the fundamental to all learning, and at Pilgrims’ we provide every boy with a thorough grounding in all aspects of literacy. More than this, though, we inspire a deep-rooted passion for reading and a genuine and lasting appreciation of literature.


Throughout their time at Pilgrims’, boys are taught to recognise the importance of clear communication. They learn how to write for a range of audiences, selecting and adapting the form and ‘voice’ 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.


Poetry is something our boys relish, especially when given the opportunity to write their own. By creating an environment in which the boys feel comfortable and proud to share their work with peers, we help them to develop confidence, self-awareness, and self-expression.


With a strong culture of reading that runs through the whole school, Pilgrims’ boys soon develop a great love of books. Every day we have Sit Down, a pause in the day so that everyone can take time out to enjoy a book/to read, either individually or as a class. Many of the Junior boys participate in Cake Break, our school book club.

In class, the boys are taught to analyse the impact and effect of writers’ language choices, and how to use the appropriate critical vocabulary when doing so. In senior years, this detailed reading is enriched with a broader study of the social and historical contexts in which the literature was written.  Shakespeare, for example, is made accessible to 11-year-old boys by re-imagining Macbeth as The Simpsons, and by using the text to stimulate discussions about highly topical issues such as mental health, race, and gender stereotypes.


Theatre trips bring the page to the stage, and visits by established and emerging authors motivate and inspire the boys, offering them invaluable insights into the writer’s craft through workshops and discussion.

Reading at our carol service in the Cathedral

Speaking and listening skills are honed through structured classroom discussion and lively debate and are greatly enhanced by visits from professional speakers. Boys of all years will read or speak in school assemblies or in our services held in Winchester Cathedral and Winchester College Chapel. Many senior boys will gain invaluable experience of independent communication when showing visitors around the school.


Our Location

We are blessed with a truly idyllic location. Just an hour south of London by direct train, with easy access to all the major travel hubs, and yet we are surrounded by the stunning countryside of the South Downs National Park. The school is tucked away  between Winchester Cathedral and Winchester College, within the secure and secluded Cathedral Close. Moments from our front door is the heart of the historic city of Winchester, or step through our back gate to find water meadows, countryside, and the South Downs Way.