In September 2015 new curriculum changes came into effect in schools across the UK. As English teachers at The Forest Academy school in East London were choosing texts to teach our students, we noticed a concerning lack of female authors and authors from ethnic minority backgrounds to pick from.
We looked into the English Literature and Language specifications of the three main exam boards and found that female writers are represented by just 31% of texts across GCSE and A Level reading lists.
Texts by writers from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds have also been marginalised, with some A Level and GCSE modules offering only 5% of texts by authors from these backgrounds.
We have spoken to the main exam boards about this issue and each has expressed support for assessments reflective of our diverse society. The exam boards also made reference to restrictions created by the subject content requirements issued by the Department for Education which they must follow when structuring courses and picking set texts.
This is a real problem as it has led to reading lists unfairly weighted in favour of white, male writers which has in turn muted the voices of an integral part of our society, sending a message to students that these voices and narratives are not as valid.
We’re calling on the Government to ensure there is fairer representation of female and ethnic minorities writers on English Literature and Language GCSE and A Level reading lists, and across all subjects where possible.
Every signature makes our voice louder so please show your support and help us ensure future reading lists are more representative of females and ethnic minorities by signing our petition!
If you are a school, organisation or individual wishing to support the Curriculum Campaign, and would like to provide a statement of support, please get in touch with us: firstname.lastname@example.org