How to Grow an English Student (Common English Forum panel)

Chair: Prof David Duff, Queen Mary University of London / English Association


Ms Louise Johns-Shepherd, Centre for Literacy in Primary Education

Dr Jenny Stevens, English Association/ Godolphin & Latymer School

Dr Gabrielle Cliff Hodges, University of Cambridge / United Kingdom Literacy Association

This panel looks at the life cycle of a prospective English student from primary level to university entrance. Panellists from the primary, secondary and teacher-training sectors examine the factors that attract pupils to English and discuss the challenges the subject currently faces in maintaining its position in the school curriculum. In face of a worrying decline in applications to university, mirrored by dropping enrolments at A level, the panellists explain the developments at primary and secondary level that may be adversely affecting the profile of English in schools and thus progression to university. These include syllabus changes, altered assessment models, the ‘qualifying subjects’  issue, the ‘comparability’ agenda, and broader cultural trends. The panel emphasises the importance of a holistic approach to meeting these challenges, showing how schools and universities must work together to encourage the take-up of English at all levels, share knowledge, and facilitate the transition from school to university. It also asks whether a case needs to be made to government for rethinking some of the changes introduced in recent years. Bringing together twelve organisations, the Common English Forum symbolises this collaborative, facts-based approach and meets regularly with the Department for Education. Besides years of hands-on classroom experience, each of the panellists has played an important role in shaping the subject at a national level, through Ofqual, examination boards, subject associations and other consultancy. The panel will speak for approximately half an hour, after which there will be discussion from the floor of the issues raised.

Friday 7th July, 12.30