English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. It is a subject in its own right and the medium for teaching; for pupils, understanding language provides access to the whole curriculum. Through being taught to write and speak fluently, pupils learn to communicate their ideas and emotions to others; through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally,
spiritually and socially. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to read and write fluently and confidently, are, in every sense, disenfranchised.
The overarching aim for English in the National Curriculum is to promote high standards of literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the written and spoken word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The National Curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
§ read easily, fluently and with good understanding
§ develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
§ acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
§ appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
§ write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
§ use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.