GCSE English Literature examinations 2021

Posted by rsl11 at Aug 14, 2020 12:30 PM |
The EA's position on the revised GCSE English Literature exams for 2021

The recent decision by the examinations regulator, Ofqual, to make a change to the 2021 GCSE English Literature examination has attracted much media attention, partly because it has been seen as an attack on the teaching of poetry in schools. The English Association is pleased to state its view.

Because GCSE students about to enter Year 11 have missed a considerable amount of teaching time during the past few months – and may well miss more – the English Association proposed to Ofqual, through its consultation, that there should be some compensatory reduction in the assessed content in next year’s GCSE English Literature examination.

Ofqual’s response, which the EA supports, is to provide students sitting the examination in 2021 with a choice of texts on which to answer questions, rather than requiring them to answer on all. Shakespeare will remain a compulsory component, but students will be able to choose to answer on two of the remaining three: poetry; a 19th-century novel; or a novel or play from the British Isles written since 1914.

The English Association has a proud history of supporting the teaching of poetry in schools, including through our current partnership with the highly successful Poetry by Heart project, and regrets that for one year poetry will become an optional subject at GCSE English literature. It is wrong, however, to characterise the Ofqual ruling as a specific attack on the teaching of poetry: poetry is no more the victim of this necessary adjustment than are 19th-century fiction or 20th-century British drama and fiction.

Rob Penman, Chair of the Board of Trustees

Jenny Stevens, member of the Secondary Education Committee and Trustee of the EA

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