Motion wanted to ‘cease spiral of decline’ in English literature A-level

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rgent motion is required to “cease the spiral of decline” within the recognition of English literature at A-level, a headteachers’ union has warned.

It needs to be a “dwelling, respiration topic which evokes and empowers younger folks”, the Affiliation of College and Faculty Leaders (ASCL) mentioned, because it lamented the continued drop in entries.

The variety of entries for English literature A-level in England has fallen from 42,246 in 2017, when the present syllabus was launched, to 35,977 in 2021 – a drop of 15%.

They’re predicted to fall even additional this yr to simply under 33,000 – an 8.9% year-on-year change, in keeping with provisional figures from Ofqual.

There was an excellent steeper drop for entries in English language A-level, down 32% from 20,641 in 2017 to 14,121 in 2021 – though Ofqual expects entries to have levelled off this yr at simply above 14,000.

Entries for the mixed A-level in English language and literature tumbled 30% from 10,250 in 2017 to 7,158 in 2021, and will dip under 7,000 this yr.

Geoff Barton, normal secretary of the Affiliation of College and Faculty Leaders, welcomed the rise in curiosity in different topics, however mentioned he had “extreme concern” about English Literature, blaming Authorities reforms to GCSE for “placing college students off” persevering with it to A-level.

He mentioned: “A-level entries are up 4.2% this yr – partly due to the rise within the 18-year-old cohort – and it’s nice to see topics reminiscent of psychology and sociology doing so nicely with huge rises of 11.6% and 9.5% respectively.

“Nonetheless, we’ve got to precise extreme concern in regards to the persevering with decline in English entries at A-level with English Literature down 8.9% this yr.

“It needs to be completely clear to the Authorities that its reforms to GCSE English Literature are clearly placing college students off the topic due to the grind of memorising giant quantities of conventional texts.

“Literature is a crucial half not solely of our cultural previous, however of our various cultural current, and it needs to be a dwelling, respiration topic which evokes and empowers younger folks.

“The GCSE specification must be urgently reviewed and motion taken to cease the spiral of decline we’re seeing at A-level.”

A spokeswoman for the Division for Training mentioned: “English Literature stays a preferred topic and the Nationwide Curriculum for English goals to make sure that all pupils recognize our wealthy literary heritage.

“Now we have reformed GCSE and A-level in English Language and Literature to be extra rigorous and higher put together pupils for additional research and employment.”


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