Unfair literary criticisms

3rd June 2005 at 01:00
As chair of the National Association for the Teaching of English, may I correct the errors made by Viv Ellis about us ("The classic dilemma", TES, May 20)?

NATE is not seeking the abolition of A-level English literature. Had Viv read only to page 6 of NATE's recently published book text:message, he would have realised it asks English teachers to re-examine the assumptions on which many syllabuses are based. It argues for a more culturally relevant vision of English - as, ironically, does Viv.

Neither is NATE "imploding", as Viv claims. If he read NATE's letter in the same issue as his article ("Take arms against a sea of English test troubles") he would see that we agree with his analysis of the damaging effects of key stage 3 English tests.

NATE condemns, as Viv does, the teaching of structures at the expense of thought. It also joins Viv in condemning any establishment review which prevents young people and teachers suggesting new directions for the teaching of English.

We are working with English teachers across the UK in support of curriculum and assessment systems that respond better to 21st-century cultures - and not just for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's 2005 consultation.

Thousands of teachers care so deeply about English that they support an independent subject association. I am proud of the impressive flow of publications which promote discussion about exciting English teaching. I am pleased Viv has himself contributed to these. Perhaps he should now read them.

Simon Wrigley

Chair, National Association for the Teaching of English

50 Broadfield Road


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