A BRITISH exam board has included more ethnically diverse literature to its English GCSE syllabus following calls for it to cover more than “dead white men”.
Edexcel, Britain’s biggest exam board, which is owned by Pearson, announced the news yesterday.
It made decision to include additional books by black, Asian and ethnic minority authors on the list came about after feedback from students and teachers.
“Young people should feel represented in the literature they read and by the authors who write for them. The impact of this can last a lifetime,” Katy Lewis, head of English, drama and languages at Pearson said.
The entries to the new list are Boys Don’t Cry by Malorie Blackman, Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah, Coram Boy by Jamila Gavin and Belonging in collaboration with The Poetry Society.
Zephaniah’s Refugee Boy follows the story of teenager Alem, who flees to a B&B in Berkshire to escape civil war in Ethiopia.
Blackman’s Boys Don’t Cry centres around two brothers, one who unexpectedly becomes a single parent and another who is openly gay. The novel explores peer pressure, bullying, homophobia and teen pregnancy.
“We want to ensure that students are being exposed to literature from a variety of British authors from different backgrounds and are reading about contemporary issues that they can engage with and relate to,” Pearson said.
A resource pack detailing the new addition to the GCSE English syllabus will be sent out before the end of term.
None of the current texts or poetry collections will be removed from the syllabus.
Last year, Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, criticised the lack of BAME writers and texts on the syllabus.
She said: “As an English teacher, I have no problem with Shakespeare, with Pope, with Dryden, with Shelley.
“But I knew in a school where there are 38 first languages taught other than English that I had to have Afro-Caribbean writers in that curriculum, I had to have Indian writers, I had to have Chinese writers to enable pupils to foreshadow their lives in the curriculum.”
She added: “If a powerful knowledge curriculum means recreating the best that has been thought by dead, white men – then I’m not very interested in it.”