Literary critic

13th May 2005 at 01:00
I am writing to express my disappointment in your article "Eng Lit 'dumbed down'" (TES, April 22).

Your article takes a very narrow view of 19th-century novels "only" being studied as part of coursework. Most teachers choose AQA English Literature specification A because it allows them to teach what they want, within limits imposed by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's subject criteria.

In attacking this specification, therefore, you are attacking the choice of most teachers.

If teachers want to teach a course which tests a 19th-century novel in the exam, then they can choose AQA's specification B.

The front-page article provided an ideal opportunity to inform teachers of the consultation that the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has embarked upon, English 21. AQA is participating actively in this. We will be writing to all centres who take our English exams inviting their views on the issues raised by English 21.

We will use the responses to guide our own response to the debate on the future of English. AQA will also be setting up a focus group of teaching practitioners, whose interests reflect teachers' diverse views about English literature.

Contrary to the tone of article, we receive little correspondence about set texts, but actively welcome comments from centres.

Now is a time of real opportunity for teachers to influence the future teaching of English, and we encourage them to do so by responding to the English 21 consultation and by letting us know their views.

Russell Spencer AQA senior subject officer for GCSE English and English literature, AQADevas Street, Manchester

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