English Ban Burns; Scottish Classic Works Dropped by Examining Body

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), March 29, 2009 | Go to article overview

English Ban Burns; Scottish Classic Works Dropped by Examining Body


Byline: Daniel Boffey

CLASSIC works by Scottish literary giants such as Robert Burns are being dropped as set texts in schools in England.

Under new guidelines for the GCSE qualification, pupils in England, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland, will study authors from their own nations but not those produced by writers from north of the Border.

This means they will never have to read works by great Scottish writers such as Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

According to the new guidelines for English, pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland must read at least one text by an author from their home country.

The English Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), which has drawn up the specifications for the GCSE qualification set to be taught from September 2010, said that Scottish authors were not required reading because they wanted students to read works from their own nation state.

But critics have argued there is no need to break down British literary heritage into nationalities, with the risk of pupils being denied classics such as Treasure Island, The Adventures of Sherlock

Holmes and Tam O'Shanter. Last night, Scottish Conservatives' education spokesman Liz Smith said: 'This is a matter for the English exam boards but I am disappointed and slightly surprised by this decision.

'They are entitled to make changes to their own system, but the broadest approach to education is the best and that should embrace the books and cultures of other countries.' Nick Seaton, of the Campaign for Real Education, said: 'It is ridiculous that we are ignoring the heritage of British authors in favour of separate nation states.

'And it seems ridiculous to stipulate that works from certain parts of the country should be read but others left out. …

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