'No GCSE ban on US novels,' says Gove

'No GCSE ban on US novels,' says Gove

Education secretary Michael Gove has denied a report that he is banning the study of American novels in GCSE English literature courses.
 
On Sunday (25th May), the Sunday Times said exam board OCR was planning to drop Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (Penguin Classics) and John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men (Arrow) from the GCSE curriculum because Gove wanted pupils to study more British literature.
 
Paul Dodd, director of policy and strategy at OCR, told the newspaper: “Of Mice and Men, which Michael Gove really dislikes, will not be included. It was studied by 90% of teenagers taking English literature GCSE in the past. Michael Gove said that was a really disappointing statistic.”
 
However, writing in the Telegraph yesterday (26th),  Gove said teachers were still free to introduce children to US authors and that the Department for Education’s new curriculum requirements (introduced last year)  would broaden, not narrow, the GCSE syllabus.
 
He said: “In English literature we emphasised that students must read a wide range of texts. We also set out a minimum core that had to be covered - specifically a whole Shakespeare play, poetry from 1789 including the romantics, a 19th-century novel, and some fiction or drama written in the British Isles since 1914.
 
“Beyond this exam boards have the freedom to design specifications so that they are stretching and interesting, and include any number of other texts from which teachers can then choose.”
 
Some authors had reacted angrily to the initial report, with Marcus Sedgwick tweeting that teenagers should demand that their parents vote Gove out of office. Sedgwick later described Gove's Telegraph column as "hasty clarification", saying: "Now, doesn't that make you feel reassured..?"
 
However fellow novelist Piers Torday said that while he was not in favour of banning anything, “to argue that Of Mice and Men is somehow more relevant to UK kids than Oliver Twist is absurd”.
 
Taking a more humorous approach to the debate, Waterstones in Braehead, Glasgow, tweeted: “Don't be alarmed if we put your copy of To Kill A Mockingbird in a brown bag today. We hear Michael Gove might be doing spot checks.”