GCSEs 2022: Non-white authors on exam syllabus doubled

Move means A level study can include Bernardine Evaristo's Booker prize winning novel Girl, Woman, Other at A level from September

Catherine Lough

diverse literature

Pupils studying GCSE and A level English literature will have more opportunity to study a diverse range of literature, after one of England's leading exam boards has doubled the proportion of books by writers of colour.

Exam board OCR has added five novels at A level and a new play and poems at GCSE for teaching from September 2022.


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At A level, pupils studying English literature will now be able to study Bernardine Evaristo's 2019 Booker prize-winning novel Girl, Woman, Other - the first time the work has been included on an A level syllabus. 

Other titles added to the A Level English Literature course include Passing by Nella Larsen, The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, and The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon.

The new titles mean that 28 per cent of OCR texts will be by writers of colour, up from 13 per cent, while 62 per cent of the new works introduced for teaching next year are by women.

At GCSE, pupils will be able to study Leave Taking by Winsome Pinnock as a modern drama text as well as a wider selection of poems.

Ms Evaristo said: “I feel very privileged to know that my work will be taught in schools alongside other books that broaden our understanding of the role of literature in contemporary society, and which explore what it means to be human from multiple, instead of limited, perspectives.”

OCR chief executive Jill Duffy said: “We’re committed to increasing the breadth of writing that young people can engage with.

"Thanks to input from the English teachers we consulted with, a panel of teaching and academic experts, our experienced examiners, as well as feedback from partners such as Lit in Colour, we’ve carefully selected some exciting works to strengthen our English Literature A Level and GCSE.

"The quality of these diverse works will not only support students to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding of English Literature, but provide an opportunity to engage with work that is more relevant to their lives and to the lives of fellow students.”

 The news comes after a report by Lit in Colour highlighted how in 2019 fewer than 1 per cent of GCSE candidates answered a question on a novel by a writer of colour.

English teachers welcomed OCR's expanded range of texts on social media, with assistant principal Jennifer Webb saying she was "very proud to have contributed in a tiny way to this", while English teacher Laura Webb described the news as "super exciting".

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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