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Does everyone really need an English Literature GCSE?

Discussion in 'English' started by gruoch, Nov 20, 2011.

  1. gruoch

    gruoch Established commenter

    It doesn't count for the dreaded league tables.
    English, however, does. We don't do Lit at all at the moment.
  2. mediadave

    mediadave New commenter

    Personally i think all students should be given the opportunity to do lit. I teach a low-ability class in year 11; they've done most of their Language modules with a few resits taking place this year, however their enthusiasm for lit is much greater than for language. They've really enjoyed Macbeth and were surprisingly into the poetry we studied. I can't imagine keeping a low ability group interested in just English for a whole two years and pity anyone who has to teach like that.
    It doesn't seem fair to deny some students the opportunity. I know of one school who offer Media alongside English with Lit offered as an option subject. That seems to work well and gives the lower ability students the chance to get their teeth into something other than English.
  3. anteater

    anteater New commenter

    We have always just had the bottom sets (probably only about 15 students per year) do just the one GCSE (and sometimes get them to do Media as well as English if there is time). There was plenty of Literature in just English under the old AQA spec: other cultures poetry, Shakespeare and pre 1914 novel.
    And there is still Literature in the new just English spec, which DOES count for the league table, as gruoch pointed out: you can take "English" on its own (which includes three CAs on Lit topics), but not "English Language" , because unless you take "English Literature" too you are not getting the required dose of Shakespeare etc. So by just doing English, you <u>do</u> get some Lit - just not as much.
  4. millicent_bystander

    millicent_bystander New commenter

    I fully agree with you, it is far better for students to succeed in one than to underperform in two - there is too much focus on students achieving a high number of GCSEs, but the sad fact is that for low ability students, they are better focusing on a smaller amount and having a chance at passing.
    It is hard to change from Eng Lang and Lit to English under the new system as the CA titles are different, despite boards' assurance that you could start on the double route and switch to the single route if students were at risk of failing.
    A few years ago in my department, I made the decision to have only the top sets doing English and Literature, the rest of the students took English. The results went up by 11%.
    As English teachers it's easy to passionately believe that all students should experience literature GCSE, but when league tables rule our world, it is better to go for the reduced approach that will get the results you need. It is a shame not all SLTs see it this way.

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