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Historical emergence of GCSE English? Where did it come from? Why is it taught?

Discussion in 'English' started by kls88, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. Hi
    I am a PGCE student and I have an assignment which expects me to look into the historical emergence of GCSE English and find out how it emerged? and why it is taught in schools and college's.
    I have tried researching this but I can't find any relevant information and was hoping that someone could point me in the right direction and recommend places to look or reports to read.
    Many thanks

    KLS 88
  2. gruoch

    gruoch Established commenter

    First there was GCE English Language and English Literature - also known as 'o' levels. Grammar and public schools only.
    Then there was CSE English - secondary modern schools, only - but if you got a C or above is was an 'o' level equivalent (which is where the current A*-C comes from).
    Then there were comprehensive schools and a new exam was required - GCSE

  3. Well, all secondary subjects used to be GCE O level or CSE, not just English.
    I was part of the pilot for GCSE English, back in the 1980s. The 16 plus exam was set by MEG, the midland examination group, at our school. The HOD was really enthusiastic and insisted that we did the 100% course work option. It was a complete free for all, and for several years, Adrian Mole was on a par with the Bard when it came to coursework topics.
    Whatever its faults, the current GCSE is much better than the course I taught in the decade that style forgot.
  4. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    Before the National Curriculum and before GCSE, both GCE "O" Level and CSE offered English Language and English Literature. The English Language option, particularly the Ordinary Level (which was the main "qualification" in English) covered a very narrow range of English.
    You just had to do an essay, maybe a precis and comprehension and answer some grammar questions to pass on most syllabuses. You didn't have to write in more than one genre and the reading tests were pretty well all on factual writing. There was no coursework and no speaking and listening for an "O" Level pass.
    GCSE was linked to the national curriculum, where reading and writing had to cover a much wider field and speaking and listening also had to be assessed.
    So, there was no GCSE English Language. There was GCSE English which demanded a much broader area for work and assessment than the old "O" Level Language ever had. (For example, pre-twentieth century Literature - with compulsory Shakespeare.)

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