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Michael Gove Hits Back At Claims He Banned American Fiction From GCSEs

14/08/2014 17:01 | Updated 20 May 2015

Education Secretary Michael Gove

Sunday Times reported the the Education Secretary insisted teenagers should study literature penned by British writers, not American writers, for their

The exam board added: "In the new syllabus 70-80225Ct22_blank">teachers and academics likened Mr Gove's reading list to 'something out of the 1940s'.

But writing in the Telegraph, Mr Gove said the claims were 'rooted in fiction'.

He wrote: "I have not banned anything. Nor has anyone else. Teachers are as free to introduce children to the brilliant writing of Lee, Steinbeck and Miller today as they were yesterday and nothing this government is doing will change that in the future.

"All we are doing is asking exam boards to broaden - not narrow - the books young people study for GCSE."

Mr Gove added: "Do I think Of Mice And Men, Lord Of The Flies and To Kill A Mockingbird are bad books? Of course not. I read and loved them all as a child. And I want children in the future to be able to read them all.

"But sometimes a rogue meme can be halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on."

Authors and academics criticised Mr Gove following the reports.

Sam West, the actor and director, said that children would now be kept away from books that have 'moved and inspired' young people 'because their authors aren't British'.

But Mr Gove responded: "Last year the Department for Education set out new requirements around which exam boards would frame their specifications.

"The new subject content for all GCSEs is broader and deeper than before - reflecting a higher level of ambition for children.

"In English literature we emphasised that students must read a wide range of texts. We also set out a minimum core that had to be covered - specifically a whole Shakespeare play, poetry from 1789 including the romantics, a 19th-century novel, and some fiction or drama written in the British Isles since 1914.

"Beyond this exam boards have the freedom to design specifications so that they are stretching and interesting, and include any number of other texts from which teachers can then choose."

He said that teachers had welcomed a 'specification that allows for Keats and Heaney, Shakespeare and Miller, the Brontes and Pinter'.

He said that the critics from exam boards who have accused him of 'hating' Of Mice And Men have never met him to discuss his reading preferences.

He added: "I would have thought that making an assertion unsupported by evidence is the sort of thing exam boards would want to discourage.

"But in any case, there are four exam boards which can offer GCSE English literature and there are no rules either requiring them to exclude or marginalise any writer - if they wish to include Steinbeck - whether it's Of Mice And Men or The Grapes Of Wrath no one would be more delighted than me."

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