BRIDGET WHELAN writer

Muse, News and Views

What IS on a school reading list…..? I found Pratchett and Adams and that the old reading lists have been ditched

books 2Following on from yesterday’s post about what I would choose to go on a school reading list, I did a little internet research to find out what is actually on offer in British schools right now. If you don’t teach or have children of the right age, it is easy to fallback on your own experience which are inevitably out of date.
It passed me by at the time, but in February it was announced  that from 2014 onwards school students between the age of 14 and 16 would study a series of “whole texts in detail”, including two complete plays by Shakespeare.

They must also read:

• Romantic poetry by such poets as Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Byron and Keats;

• A 19th century novel

• Poetry of the First World War

• A selection of British fiction, poetry or drama since 1918

• Seminal world literature, written in English

Portrait of John Keats by his friend Charles B...

Portrait of John Keats by his friend Charles Brown, 1819 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Department of Education said the new rules would place a “greater emphasis on the reading and teaching of whole texts as opposed to teaching bite-sized chunks” to pass tests. (I gather that Ofqual, the exams watchdog, had warned that pupils were able to complete an entire GCSE in English without studying a whole novel.)

The new regulations also scrapped existing reading lists in order to give schools greater freedom to choose authors  so I looked to see what schools were actually recommending now. I haven’t done a comprehensive survey. Hands up I didn’t get past the first page of Google results but I did find two out of the three on my wish list.

Skinners School in Tunbridge Wells for 2011/12 (before the new regulations) gave a blanket recommendation for the Penguin classics and then went on to specify about 40 works of fiction. In addition to a few 19th century novels (Wilki Collins for example and three of Dickens) there were 20th century standards like Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World and…
Douglas Adams Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe and (I quote) “anything” by Bill Bryson or Terry Pratchett.

I’m not sure when The Cotswold School in Bourton on the Water drew up their suggested reading handout for Years 10 and 11. It includes The Kite Runner  by Khaled Hosseini, Atonement by Ian McEwan and White Teeth  by Zadie Smith

English: Zadie Smith announcing the five 2010 ...

English: Zadie Smith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Under the heading of a “slightly lighter read” is Hitchiker’s Guide, Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic and also His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman. Somewhat bizarrely William Golding’s Lord of the Flies also comes into this category, next to Slumdog Millionaire and
Fever Pitch.

No Private Eye bound volumes though (only a matter of time surely), but on the face of it a pretty eclectic mix and plenty of humour.

photo credit: » Zitona « via photopin cc
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This entry was posted on May 31, 2013 by in Views and tagged , , , , , .
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