Big welcome for more texts

"No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader," wrote the poet Robert Frost. And plans to revamp English literature A-level seem to be progressing just as smoothly. The National Association for the Teaching of English (NATE) has taken the unusual step of welcoming as "very positive" changes which will require students to read more books and write creatively.

As The TES reported last month, the number of texts students must study will increase from eight to 12. In addition, candidates will be required to study literature within a literary and cultural context, draft specifications for the new A-levels released by the exam boards show.

John Hodgson, chair of the association's post-16 and higher education committee, said that changes to the English language and literature syllabuses would promote an approach to literature that "draws on both linguistic and literary traditions".

He said many of the changes were in line with proposals made by the association last year, but added that the new draft syllabuses would require a lot of preparation by teachers. The detail would not be finalised until September, only a year before they started being taught, he said.

But an English teacher told The TES online staffroom that the increase in the number of books required would be harmful for some candidates.

"This disadvantages students from a poor cultural background as they simply don't have the skills to cope with so many texts in such a short time," he said.

"I'm just going to teach brutally to the exam."

NATE will publish a lengthier analysis of the changes in October.

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