Tag: english

Mr Butler says

Word of the Week End of Term Challenge!

Prodigious Prizes for the best (or silliest) story or poem utilising all this term’s words.

Email your entries to Mr Butler by the beginning of term, please.

Last week’s word was ‘Erstwhile’, which is fascinating because ‘erst’ comes from Anglo Saxon, aerste, meaning ‘earlier’, and was used throughout the Saxon, Middle English and modern eras, but the extended adjective ‘erstwhile’ only appears in the early 1900’s, and we no longer use ‘erst’. Odd. First Former Summer’s sentence made me laugh, but Second Former Alexandra’ ‘I have lost touch with my erstwhile BFF, Courtney’ uses the word perfectly, and she wins.




Mr Butler says

This week’s etymological excitement is…


  • Find the definition and word class (adjective, noun, verb etc.)
  • Think of a sentence that shows you understand the word
  • Go to the ‘Word of the Week’ Frog panel
  • Fill out the form
  • Get a merit or three and, maybe some chocolate
  • Have a new word to use!

Last week’s word was ‘Nascent’ (adj), means ‘early in its development’. It came into English fairly late – around the 18th century – and has its origin in the Latin nasci a verb which translates as ‘being born’. Loads of lovely sentences this time, but the winner is Sixth Former Sammi for her beautifully pitched sarcasm in While everyone pushes Dr Smith to better himself in chemistry, Mrs Kirnig is encouraging his nascent chess skills.’ She gets merits and chocolate, and all entries get merits.



Mr Butler says

This week’s Word of the Week is


Look up the definition of the word

  • Enter the ‘Word of the Week’ form on Frog
  • Fill in your full name and tutor group then…
  • Give me the definition
  • The word class (not difficult this week!)
  • Make up a sentence that shows the meaning
  • Get a merit (and perhaps some chocolate)

Last week’s word was the verb, ‘Carp’. It’s a really interesting word, because its origins lie in old Norse, but it didn’t come into English during the Viking invasions – it is first recorded in English in the 1400s. Its nearest relative word is in Icelandic- Karpa – which means to argue or dispute. Some very good answers this week – especially Fifth Former Steph and First Former Ruby – but the winner is Second Former Ila who referenced what she’s studying in English as well – ‘Lady Macbeth was always carping on to Macbeth about being a coward’. She gets chocolate and merits.



We are so proud to let you know that last week’s debating success was rounded off by the Upper School who came second in Friday’s Guildford District Final of the English Speaking Union. The girls fulfilled individual roles, working independently to bring success for the team, Fifth Former Imogen was Guest Speaker on Gordon’s School Team 1 debating ‘Is the fact we are reading more books more important that the quality of what we are reading?’, Fifth Former’s Emily and Lucy were Chair and Questioner respectively on Prior’s Field School Team 1 discussing ‘Is the Pen mightier than the Sword’. The team were outstanding in this professional and challenging environment, and certainly deserve their place on the podium.

Debate Team

Not to be outdone by the successes of the debating clubs, the English department took up the debating baton this week. Mrs McGarry reports ‘Things got very heated in my Third Form English lessons this week as the girls got stuck into an Oxford style debate with the motion ‘This house believes Barbie dolls are damaging for girls’.

Sacha was commended for her passionate summary for the motion and Issi and Georgie were riddled with frustration at the rules of not interrupting! Millie and Emily took their judging very seriously and with fellow judges Jessica and Vanessa, delivered fair verdicts.

The girls conducted themselves with great aplomb and there are many potential debaters for our growing debating teams.’


The junior debate team shared a successful and enjoyable evening at the London Junior Debating League which took place at More House School, Knightsbridge on Tuesday 30 January.  Mrs Farr reports ‘We swept victory against Francis Holland as opposition for the unprepared motion ‘This house believes that women have not achieved equality in the Western World.’ First Formers Robyn, Freya and Sophie gave outstanding performances in their second public debate and were praised for their confident arguments and delivery. Our other debate team had the challenge of arguing the difficult motion that the voting age should be reduced to 11 years of age in the prepared debate and, although it was close, unfortunately lost this debate. Despite this, it was a personal victory for First Formers Emily, Lily and Norah as it was their debating debut. The atmosphere on the journey home was full of joy and left Mrs Olive wondering whether she was driving the debate team or a pop choir. The girls are all looking forward to their next ‘debate off’ in March.’

Junior Debating League


“Tis within ourselves that we are thus or thus” –  William ShakespeareOthello

On Tuesday, the Sixth Form English Literature students enjoyed a riveting A Level English Lecture by Dr Chris Stamatakis, a Lecturer and Teaching Fellow of UCL, specialising in Renaissance poetry. Both the Upper and Lower Sixth Formers were very engaged in an in-depth analysis of Shakespeare’s Othello and the Upper Sixth girls proceeded to also focus on Dr Faustus by Christopher Marlowe.

Sixth Former Rachel picks up the story ‘Dr Stamatakis spoke to both the Upper and Lower Sixth Students on a variety of themes seen within the play, some of these included the various types of tragedy that Othello can be classified as, the portrayal of female characters, and the rather complex, but immensely interesting theory of ‘Dilatory time’ and ‘double time scheme’ within the play. After break, Dr Stamatakis led the Upper Sixth on ‘Dr Faustus’ by Christopher Marlowe. In this seminar, we learnt about the various types of tragedy that ‘Dr Faustus’ could be classed as, including the ‘De Casibus’ morality play structure, the importance of setting the play in Wittenburg and finally, the theory of ‘histrionic re- enactment’ within the play. We all found Dr Stamatakis to be a very engaging speaker, who helped us ‘unravel’ the complexities of these two plays, helping us to gain new insights into the authors of these plays, plot, context and the complex language that both playwrights use; this new knowledge shall undoubtedly prove extremely beneficial to us as we continue to examine these plays in our lessons, and in our exams in the future. ‘

Mr Butler adds. One of the lovely things about the seminars was the engagement of our students. Dr Stamatakis said both in the seminars and afterwards to me how impressive the knowledge and engagement of the girls had been, how he had been challenged by some of their points and how well the girls worked together intellectually, building on and discussing ideas in a ‘true spirit of academic co-operation’. Well done girls – you did yourselves (and your teachers) proud!

As well as his academic responsibilities, Dr Stamatakis has written Sir Thomas Wyatt and the Rhetoric of Rewriting: ‘Turning the Word’ (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). He is currently working on a book studying the influence of Italian poetic form on English Literature.


Mr Butler’s First Form English class have been studying ‘The Ballad of Frankie and Johnny’ and on Friday last week, they split into 3 groups to perform their interpretation of the piece to the rest of the class. The three performances were imaginative and entertaining, and it was thrilling that the groups came up with such different ideas. Costumes and wigs were donned, and the girls thoroughly enjoyed using accents, singing and using dramatic entrances to perform their versions of the ballad.