The English curriculum and the Literacy Strategy
To many outside teaching, English and literacy are synonymous. The majority of parents consider the teaching of English in the secondary school to be the teaching of, first and foremost, spelling, then handwriting, and if you are lucky, a few might mention punctuation. A mere handful of parents may wish to discuss the literature that their child has been studying. And here, of course, lies the biggest anomaly. You, like many teachers of English, may have graduated with a degree in English Literature, which you probably chose because you love reading and studying literature. Or you may have read Media Studies, Communication Studies or Theatre Studies and enjoyed those subjects similarly. In deciding to teach, you may be hoping to communicate your love of the subject. However, on returning to the classroom as a teacher, you will be expected to teach many aspects of English as defined in the National Curriculum and there will be little time for your own specialism-often the only time you will teach it will be at GCSE or AS/A level. The school and other subject teachers will expect you to produce pupils who are proficient at reading and writing so they can concentrate on their subject. And there will be times when you will hear other teachers complaining about the demise of grammar teaching; it is always the fault of the English teacher if pupils cannot read textbooks/examination questions or write ‘proper English’. You will almost certainly find the emphasis on teaching literacy quite different from your own experience and possibly different from what you expected when you chose to teach.