This booklet is one of a series about the teaching of language, literacy and English to children and young people aged 3 to 19. The aim of the series is to inspire and inform debate about school strategy. The booklets draw on seminal studies and development work carried out over many years. The series is a co-publication between the United Kingdom Literacy Association and Owen Education, an independent school-improvement agency.
About this booklet
This booklet explains and evaluates the reforms to AS-/A-level English affecting courses beginning in 2015 in English Language, English Literature and English Language and Literature. These three subjects have distinctive identities, shaped by both historical and current academic debates about what ‘English’ means; and each has its own orientation, which may or may not provide continuity with pre-16 English and with undergraduate study. The major structural reforms to the new AS-/Alevels offer particular challenges. Although one of the main original aims of the reforms was to free up teaching time in order to deepen and enrich
learning, the continuation of AS-level as a ‘de-coupled’ qualification has faced teachers with new constraints and presented learners with difficult choices.
In light of the uncertainties created by politically driven changes, it is important to articulate some fundamental principles that underlie positive practice across the English subjects. This the booklet does. It offers examples of active, creative approaches to study in the three A-level subjects: approaches which should also be included in any 16-to-19 courses aiming to prepare students for contemporary life and work. The booklet proposes ways in which assessment needs to change in order to be relevant to modern literacies.
Thousands of young people aged 16 to 19 take courses leading to English qualifications other than A-level. The booklet summarises the current situation with regard to ‘other than A-level’ English qualifications for this age group. In particular, it recommends the introduction of a GCSE-equivalent qualification for post-16 students.
About the author
Angela Goddard has taught English (both language and literature) in all the educational sectors, from primary school to higher education. She helped to develop one of the first A-level English Language courses in the 1980s, and ran the Language in the National Curriculum project in Tameside, Stockport and Manchester from 1990 to 1992. She is a chair of A-level English examiners at a national examination board, a professor of English Language, and a Higher Education National Teaching Fellow. Her research interests include language and new technologies, and she has written and edited many books and articles on a wide range of language topics. She edits the Routledge Intertext series.