Education & Family

Tweets and Brand evidence on suggested A-level syllabus

Russell Brand
Image caption Russell Brand appeared before the Home Affairs Committee in April 2012

Sixth-formers taking a new English A-level could be asked to study comedian Russell Brand's evidence to a committee of MPs on drug addiction and treatment.

BBC interviews with musician Dizzee Rascal may also form part of the course drawn up by the OCR exam board and the English and Media Centre (EMC).

The course is being submitted to the exams regulator, Ofqual, for approval.

Ministers said new A-levels would be reviewed by Russell Group universities, to ensure "high-quality content".

The new English Language and Literature course is one of the new A-levels due to be introduced in schools in England next year, as part of a government overhaul designed to toughen up exams.


The newly devised course would see students study tweets by the broadcaster and columnist, Caitlin Moran, pieces by The Secret Footballer, who has written anonymously about professional football and the transcript of a BBC Newsnight interview with Dizzee Rascal, as well as memoirs such as Twelve Years A Slave.

More traditional texts would include such poems by Emily Dickinson and William Blake, and works by George Orwell, William Shakespeare and Charlotte Bronte.

Image caption More traditional works, such as those by George Orwell, are also included

OCR and the EMC said those studying a play such as The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde would have to look at ideas such as form, structure and dramatic techniques, while those reading the transcript of the Dizzee Rascal interview would look at concepts such as purpose and audience.

The organisations said the aim of the course was for students to "develop the skills to analyse any text, whether spoken or written, literary or non-literary, in the most appropriate way".

They said the range of texts included in the course was "the most diverse yet for any English A-level".

Hester Glass, OCR subject specialist for English Language and Literature, said: "By creating a new model with a linguistic approach to literary texts, we aim to set a new gold standard to transform the A-level into a more valuable, distinctive qualification.

"It will provide a firm grounding for university and improve employability in any field that requires an ability to use language in a practical, agile and articulate way - from science, business or politics to the arts."

'Graphic novels'

Barbara Bleiman, co-director of the English and Media Centre, said: "Developing the new A-level specification gives us an extraordinary opportunity to excite and inspire teachers with the power of the English language.

"The new A-level will introduce new approaches and scope for more creative writing, while offering teachers and students the flexibility to explore an extremely broad variety of styles, methodologies and genres.

"Taking on board feedback from teachers, we've created a specification with a superb choice of texts, from familiar names like George Orwell, Shakespeare and Charlotte Bronte to fresh voices including Grayson Perry, Allie Brosh and poet Jacob Sam-La Rose.

"From graphic novels like Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, to comedy scripts, TV screenplays and journalism, the course offers great diversity, within a set of broad parameters."

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "All new A-levels must be accredited by the independent exams regulator Ofqual against more rigorous criteria based on evidence submitted by university professors.

"This exam has not been accredited and we await Ofqual's decision with interest.

"New A-levels also have to go through a new review process, undertaken by academics from Russell Group universities, to ensure high-quality content."

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