Reconsider the changes to English Literature GCSE
  • Petitioning Nicky Morgan

This petition will be delivered to:

Minister For Education
Nicky Morgan

Reconsider the changes to English Literature GCSE

    1. Mary Stevens
    2. Petition by

      Mary Stevens

      Oxford, United Kingdom

Last month Education Secretary Michael Gove announced plans to make significant changes to English lessons. Gove's syllabus changes mean that classic US books will be removed from the GCSE syllabus and the focus will be on pre 20th century writers from England.

Do we teach literature written in English or the literature of England? Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird...these books are commonly chosen by teachers because they are brilliantly written and contain themes which help all our students empathise; no matter what their ability and background.

I teach English in a comprehensive school and the key part of my job is enabling students to relate to texts in order to appreciate and learn from them. Even with the best teaching, you won’t find many 15 year olds who will easily connect with Dickens and Shakespeare...most are alienated by the culture, the characters and the language.

Michael Gove said he didn't "ban" any books. But by telling teachers we have to teach Romantic Poets, a 19th century novel, a Shakespeare play and a British text, he narrowed the curriculum and took choice away from teachers. With all the other demands on us, it will be hard for any teacher to teach more than these set texts and we simply don’t believe these choices are the right ones for all students. We love literature and want to share that love. This syllabus risks building resentment and dislike of our literary heritage.

Please support this petition urging Nicky Morgan to let teachers choose from a wider range of texts.

This is a syllabus which privileges the elite and deprives the disadvantaged.

Nicky Morgan, Minister For Education
Reconsider the changes to English Literature GCSE

[Your name]

Recent signatures


    1. Meeting arranged

      Mary Stevens
      Petition Organizer

      I'll be taking the petition to Ben Gummer MP at the DfE on 28th October and discussing it with him. I'll post an update as soon I can. Meanwhile, please continue to share the petition and let's see if we can increase the pressure. Thanks!

    2. Reached 75,000 signatures
    3. Gove is gone

      Mary Stevens
      Petition Organizer

      Today Michael Gove has been replaced as Education Secretary by Nicky Morgan. I've updated the petition to reflect this.

      This is a great opportunity for us to urge Nicky Morgan to review the proposed changes to GCSE English, just as she steps into her new role. 

      If you have a minute today please email Nicky Morgan ( and ask her to review the Gove's changes to GCSE English.

      Thank you for all your support.

    4. Petition on track for DfE discussion

      Mary Stevens
      Petition Organizer

      Dear petitioners.
      Thank you all for your continued support and helpful feedback. Today I met with my MP, Nicola Blackwood, at the Houses of Parliament. She listened to the range of opinions and concerns expressed in the petition and agreed that 63,000+ people who felt this strongly deserved to be heard.

      She has promised to use her position to request a meeting with the Department for Education and I hope to assemble a range of attendees to underline the broad spectrum of opposition to these changes. The petition should be represented by teachers, parents, students and academics.

      Thank you to those who were able to post views on the DfE Facebook page. This was a valuable contribution and your comments are there (under Posts by Others) to show the strength of feeling on this issue. I appreciate that not everyone uses social media, but any pressure via email to MPs, or through FB or Twitter is all valuable in keeping GCSE Literature in the public eye.

      Best wishes,

      Mary Stevens

    5. Reached 40,000 signatures
    6. Michael Gove strikes back

      Mary Stevens
      Petition Organizer

      Some of you will be aware that Michael Gove has denied narrowing the curriculum. Let's address this and keep fighting.

      No matter how he is choosing to spin it in the wake of popular opinion the GCSE curriculum has been narrowed and made more anglocentric. If students are ALL to be examined on Romantic Poets, a 19th century novel, a Shakespeare play and a British (why British?) text since 1914 then the curriculum is being limited not expanded. His claim that "If they wish to include Steinbeck – whether it's Of Mice and Men or The Grapes of Wrath – no one would be more delighted than me" is a nonsense similar to his assertion* about averages. Teachers will be unable to do anything extra, they'll be busting a gut to make these difficult texts appealing. Keep the pressure on, please!

      *Q98 Chair: One is: if "good" requires pupil performance to exceed the national average, and if all schools must be good, how is this mathematically possible? Gove: By getting better all the time.

    7. Reached 9,000 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Helen Dixon MANAGUA, NICARAGUA
      • 3 days ago

      I'm a writer translator and teacher and am in favour of broad minded and open choices about teaching literature in English, and am appalled by this narrow-minded nationalist thinking which deprives our children of reading a rich array of wonderful writers... I could on but won't here.

    • David North CHAPEL HILL, NC
      • 4 days ago

      The idea of not being able to introduce To Kill A Mockingbird to young people is a crying shame.

      • 9 days ago

      As a recent former student, I can tell you. Shakespear was just boring and uninteresting compared to Of Mice and Men which had an interesting setting.

    • Justin Manson LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 9 days ago

      Cutting seminal English language texts, especially ones which connect with students so obviously is wrong. It's parochial and paternalistic.

    • martin stuart GLASGOW, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 9 days ago

      I found school extremely difficult and hated it, but an English teacher gave me of mice and men to read, and I can honestly say it changed my life, I suddenly realised how powerful good writing can be, where will this end? will music lessons only teach British music? will art only cover British artists? if so our young generation will be denied the wealth of other cultures art.


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