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OCR and award-winning educational charity The English and Media Centre (EMC) have developed a new A Level in English Language and Literature. It's the first time two organisations have worked together to create an English A Level.
EMC, which works closely with English teachers, has put its expertise into content and resources while OCR has led on all aspects of assessment. Both organisations believe that English Literature and Language combined deserves a higher status as a subject than it currently holds.
The range of texts to be studied is the most diverse yet for any English A Level. It ranges from classics such as the poems of Emily Dickinson and William Blake to memoirs like Twelve Years a Slave and contemporary works including poetry from Jacob Sam-La Rose, Jez Butterworth's stage play Jerusalem, fiction by Jhumpa Lahiri and Russell Brand's evidence on drugs policy presented to the House of Commons.
As one of the new A Levels to be taught in schools from September 2015, the OCR English Language and Literature A Level (EMC) offers a synthesis of literary and linguistic approaches to the analysis of text.
The aim is for students to develop the skills to analyse any text, whether spoken or written, literary or non-literary, in the most appropriate way. For a play such as The Importance of Being Earnest, students will be expected to discuss not only literary elements such as form, structure and dramatic techniques, but also linguistic points, such as register and type of utterance, lexis and morphology. Students reading the transcript of the BBC Newsnight interview with Dizzee Rascal may be asked to comment on mode, purpose and audience.
George Norton, Curriculum Team Leader in English at Paston VI Form College, Norfolk said: "For me, an English Language and Literature specification must be distinct from other English A-Levels: rigorous but appealing to students; varied but with real academic depth; exciting to teach but practicable. The OCR/EMC specification is all four, a real and exciting indication of where English as a subject is right now. It will be hard to resist a course that allows me to teach William Blake, the writing of The Secret Footballer and the script of Dizzee Rascal's Newsnight interview. I'm looking forward to it already."
Another unique feature of the qualification is the interplay between reading and writing. Students will be expected to apply their knowledge of literary and linguistic analysis from reading to their own original writing. They will also be encouraged to use their experience of creative writing to sharpen their analysis of texts. There is plenty of opportunity for original writing including a non-examined component (coursework) for which students produce an original work of non-fiction writing.
Hester Glass, OCR Subject Specialist for English Language and Literature, said: "Historically, English Language and Literature A Level has lacked a clearly defined identity. 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."
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 sheer 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. Plus, there will be plenty of support and dynamic new resources to help teachers successfully introduce it in class."
An outline of the new A Level Language and Literature will be presented to teachers at the annual OCR/EMC A Level English Conference for teachers in London on 7 May 2014. More details of the new qualification will be made available in early June when the draft A Level specification will be submitted to Ofqual for accreditation. OCR will be publishing all its draft specifications and exciting teacher resources on the website.
For more information, visit OCR GCSE and A Level reform.