Dr Tate says that when 33 per cent of young people cannot spell the word sincerely and more than 40 per cent spell apologise wrongly, there are more urgent priorities for schools than studying the BBC 1 soap EastEnders, advertising and teenage magazines.
The chief adviser, who will explain his views at a British Film Institute conference on education and new media technologies, says he is worried that the number of sixth-formers studying media studies will expand while the number studying English Literature declines.
Dr Tate will suggest that, though it is important to know how the mass media function, it is more important for society for young people to study Milton than more television programmes and magazines.
The numbers doing GCSE and A-level media studies are small but growing fast and degree courses in media studies are booming. There is a danger, Dr Tate believes, that media education and Information Technology will be "overdone" because it is easier to engage young people's attention through them than through traditional academic subjects.
Dr Tate, chief executive of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, will make clear that young people need to study the media and new technologies so they can become discriminating viewers and listeners.
But there should be no expansion of media education when problems of basic literacy have not been solved. A fifth of seven-year-olds and a fifth of 14-year-olds do not reach the expected standard in national tests in English.Reuse content