Stories + Views
The story of the teaching of English over the last twenty years is one in which coherency and common sense have lost out to the monolithic pressures of assessment.
Having taught in comprehensive schools throughout South Yorkshire, I left teaching in 2002 to work for a local authority. I became an independent consultant in 2007. My experiences over the last ten years or so have sadly confirmed my headline to this story: an assessment-driven curriculum has distorted the teaching of English in secondary schools. How has it done this? Assessment objectives have changed native learning about language so that many students now feel alienated from their own language inheritance. Common sense and experience tell us that speaking, listening, reading, writing are all interlinked modes of language. Prior to writing, I will have had conversations, arguments; I will have listened; I will have tried out my thinking in words; I will have revised and amended my ideas through hearing them played out aloud to others. Reading similarly is linked to writing: good writers are good readers and vice versa. Yet, the English secondary curriculum is divided into separate parts which are separately assessed. And then there is the remorseless targeting of pupils on the GCSE C/D borderline so that their learning entitlement is reduced to whatever is necessary to getting that all-important C grade.