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Chapter and purse

Good news for cash-strapped authors. The new curriculum puts greater emphasis on contemporary writers and the list of recommended texts has been enlarged and updated. The changes are bound to provoke debate. Out go formerly fashionable authors such as Alan Sillitoe and JG Ballard and in come Philip Pullman, Michael Rosen, and Dodie Smith.

There is also a greater push for international fiction and ethnic minority writers, hence a plug for Maya Angelou, Meera Syal and Benjamin Zephaniah (right). But Shakespeare retains his place and pupils must still study a minimum of one play. And education secretary Alan Johnson has held true to his reassurance that there was "no danger" of ditching classics by the likes of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, although Shelley and Byron have been dropped.

The guidance also specifies that pupils should watch live theatre "wherever possible," following on from Tony Blair's announcement last year that children needed greater exposure to culture.

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