The overarching aim for English in the National Curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.

The syllabus for English in the new National Curriculum has been under fire in the last few weeks. This week the OCR draft English Literature syllabus appeared to have dropped US works such as Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, John Steiner’s Of Mice and Men and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.

OCR said the decision to drop the works by the US authors was because of the DfE’s desire for the exam to be more “more focused on tradition” and there were fewer opportunities to include them in the new syllabus.

The Guardian also reported that:

The new syllabus leaves less flexibility for studying modern authors from outside the British isles – such as Steinbeck – although exam boards and teachers are free to include additional texts, or authors from outside of Britain and Ireland under the other categories.

Of course we will have to wait until OCR, AQA and Edexcel publish their individual GCSE English Literature syllabuses to see the exam boards’ finalised programmes of study.

In KS3, the subject content of English states that pupils should read a variety of texts in varying forms and genres. This should include pre-1914 and contemporary prose, poetry and drama along with two Shakespeare plays and seminal world literature. These texts should develop skills and levels of understanding to adequately prepare the pupils for the GCSE programme of study.

The GCSE subject content and assessment objectives published by the Department for Education in December states that the whole texts studied must include at least:

  • One Shakespeare play
  • One 19th century novel
  • A selection of poetry since 1789, including representative Romantic poetry
  • Fiction or drama from the British Isles from 1914 onwards

The National Curriculum in England, September 2013

English Literature – GCSE subject content and assessment objectives

What texts would you like to see on the GCSE English Literature programmes of study? Let us know in the comments below.