Letter: A curriculum that fails in teaching English

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Sir: The Council for University English held its annual general meeting on 17 April at the University of Birmingham. The council is the national representative body for all university teachers of English literature and language. At that meeting we had the opportunity to discuss in detail the current revision of the Order for English in the national curriculum. We wish to place on record our strong opposition to that revision.

Our major reasons are these: it rejects the consensus of professional opinion about the best practice in schools; it involves an unacceptable degree of political and statutory control over classroom teaching; the enforcement of spoken standard English at a very early age will undermine pupils' confidence and will discriminate against the regions and ethnic minorities; it returns to a narrow and prescriptive notion of grammar which is no longer supported by linguists; it enforces a narrow and conformist view of the literary canon; it unjustifiably removes media studies from the English curriculum; a curriculum which so misrepresents the subject of English is an inadequate preparation for its study at higher levels.

Yours faithfully,

KELVIN EVEREST (University of Liverpool, Chairman of CUE), PATRICK PARRINDER (University of Reading), STAN SMITH (University of Dundee), JOHN BARNARD (University of Leeds), JOHN GOODE (University of Keele), MICHAEL HATTAWAY (University of Sheffield), R. K. R. THORNTON (University of Birmingham) and 33 other professors and lecturers of English

Council of University English


29 April