Creative writing 'set for oblivion'

Kim Pilling

Andrew Motion, the poet laureate, spoke this week of his bitter disappointment that poetry and creative writing were largely absent from the secondary curriculum.

He said the Government missed a magical opportunity to rescue poetry from oblivion when it rejected recommendations from Sir Mike Tomlinson, the former chief inspector of schools, to reform the 14 to 19 curriculum.

The professor of creative writing at the University of East Anglia said the planned shake-up of the curriculum would have provided an opportunity to set aside lesson time for creative writing.

He said the situation was healthy at primary level but that such writing had disappeared almost entirely in lessons as children approached their GCSEs.

"If a certain amount of time was set aside specifically for creativity, then at the very worst young people would have the opportunity to choose whether poetry is for them," he told the Independent.

Of the Tomlinson report, he said: "There was almost a magical opportunity for creative time to be written down and described for teachers so that they felt time spent on creativity was officially permitted and that they were not somehow betraying their pupils."

He also criticised the quality of debate led by Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, which since the general election he said had only focused on "Kelly's hours" - the plan for extended schools.

"Where is the big thinking?" he asked. "There was a moment but it seems to have been lost: this is from a government that claimed to put education at the top of its agenda."

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Kim Pilling

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