Teachers’ anger at Eng Lit ‘censorship’

By Alex Stevenson

The government has denied claims it is censoring English literature texts, after a Carol Ann Duffy poem was prevented from appearing in a GCSE anthology.

Yesterday the Association of Teachers and Lecturers’ annual conference in Liverpool passed a motion stating that “censorship of English literature is a current problem for teachers in our schools”.

It followed the removal of the Carol Ann Duffy poem Education For Leisure last year by exam board AQA after pressure from a group of MPs.

The poem, which describes the thoughts and feelings of a disaffected youth, allegedly glorified knife crime, MPs had claimed. It begins with the line: Today I am going to kill something. Anything.”

Teresa Dawes, the teacher who tabled the motion, told the Times newspaper: “Education for Leisure is not a glorification of violence – it is the exact opposite. It is in fact a pro-education and anti-violence poem – a social and political comment which seeks to explore the reasons for such antisocial behaviour.”

The apprenticeships, skills, children and learning bill contains a clause which would allow ministers to choose which books children must study for their GCSEs and A-levels.

The government denies political interference, however.

The motion carried yesterday called on the ATL’s executive body to press ministers on the issue as the bill continues its progress through parliament.