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.