Creative writing to be offered at A-level

By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education correspondent

  • Published
Typing at computer
Image caption,
Creative writing is going to appear as an A-level from the autumn

Aspiring authors, playwrights and poets are going to be offered an A-level in creative writing, which is claimed to be the first of its kind in the UK.

The AQA exam board says it will offer the exam from the autumn.

Creative writing courses have expanded at university level - and it is now going to be offered at A-level.

AQA chief executive, Andrew Hall, said the course was designed to create "bold, confident writers across a range of styles".

The creative writing course, with exams and coursework, promises to cultivate "strong writing and communication skills", valuable to employers as well as providing the tools for novels and screenplays.

"Every day we hear business leaders calling for sharper writing skills," said Mr Hall.

'Author's craft'

The course, offered at AS and A-level, will examine forms of writing - such as prose and poetry - and different types of content, such as travel writing or a sonnet or a radio play.

As part of the exam, students will have to produce a piece of creative work in response to another published text.

Pupils will have to show that they understand the techniques and styles of the "author's craft".

Candidates will also have to produce a range of literary work, such as a short story or play or poem.

The exam board says that creative writing will be added to an existing range of subjects where examiners have to assess the quality of creative work, such as art, music, drama and dance.

The creative writing A-level will provide school and college pupils with a subject that has become increasingly popular at university.

There are now more than 700 different creative writing degrees on offer in the UK, often in combination with other subjects.

A pioneer of creative writing courses in the UK was the University of East Anglia, which began teaching the subject in 1970.

Novelist and professor of creative writing at the university, Andrew Cowan, welcomed the introduction of creative writing at a younger stage, saying this would help students going on to study the subject at a higher level.

"The earlier this engagement can be fostered the better, both for the benefit of the A-level students themselves, and for the further and higher education establishments that will receive them onto their courses, including our own."

He said it would help to give students a hands-on way of "acquiring literary knowledge and understanding".

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