Dear Nicky Morgan,
Prompted by an international spotlight put on the imminent release of Harper Lee’s ‘new’ novel Go Set a Watchman, I am writing to ask if you would be willing to cast your own spotlight on a decision made by your predecessor Michael Gove that has effectively meant Lee’s famous and linked novel To Kill a Mockingbird, and any other prose and drama texts by American authors, can no longer be studied for GCSE English Literature from 2015.
You will obviously be aware of this decision and outcome, and I am hoping that you will resist – indeed, positively distance yourself from – supporting Michael Gove’s patently disingenuous, and mischievous, claim that he had not in fact ‘banned’ any texts. With American authors removed from the GCSE subject content and assessment objectives [Detailed study] for English Literature, no Exam Board would – and has not – set such a text for GCSE study. Without being set by an Exam Board, no school would be able to read and study this text at that level, and I attach a brief summary which specifically details two salient scenarios to counter Gove’s assertion of such study being possible.
I write as an English teacher with 30 years’ experience, and a GCSE English Literature examiner with over 25 years’ experience. I therefore know the enormous and significant engagement, educational impact, and examination success studying this, and novels like Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, have brought to students over so many preceding years.
I also know that were you to reconsider and alter this effective banning of American texts, it would take some considerable time for these to be filtered back into the GCSE curriculum: all syllabi and new resources for the teaching of the revised GCSEs in English from 2015 have been implemented and completed. However, if you were at the very least willing to begin the process of review, I think a genuine wrong would be more than evident and ways could then be found to remedy this.
I appreciate how busy you are and will be in current developments and decision-making, not least the other imminent reality: the forthcoming General Election! That said, you have been in the public eye yourself of late and demonstrated you are quite prepared to see and place educational matters in a new light, if you’ll excuse a final reference to that metaphor.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.