ASCL urges review as A-level entries in English decline

ASCL leader Geoff Barton has warned that English Language and English Literature should be reviewed to curb the decline in the take-up of A-level English.

Tomorrow’s results are expected to confirm provisional data from exams watchdog Ofqual in May which indicated the number of entries in A-level English subjects has fallen by 13%.

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, believes that students were being put off the subject by reforms to GCSE English qualifications.

This year’s cohort of A-level students is the first who took the new-look English Language and English Literature GCSEs.

The ASCL is concerned that the English Language exam is focused too heavily on analysis of historic texts, and that English Literature involves memorising large amounts of content. These subjects are heavily weighted in school performance tables so the vast majority of students must study both.

Barton said: “It is right that we should have the highest aspirations for all our students, but this should not equate to turning exams into a joyless slog. We are concerned that the current GCSE specifications are failing to encourage a love of English in young people and this year’s entries at A-level appear to confirm our fears.

“We must address this decline swiftly because A-level English is such an important subject, providing a path to many courses and careers, including the future English teachers we will need in our schools and colleges. We urge the Department for Education, Ofqual and the exam boards to join with us in reviewing the current situation.”

Read more