NAWE has added comment to the joint response being made by the Council for Subject Associations.
There is interesting debate in the press concerning the rigorous attention to grammar in the draft document published by the Department of Education. NAWE generally endorses the views put forward by NATE (and would certainly defend the excellent work of NATE and the views that have been so misrepresented by Michael Gove in his recent speech to the head teachers of independent academy schools). However, debating the merits of teaching the subjunctive to pupils aged 11 is not, for NAWE, of prime concern. Our principle comments about the document (both positive and negative) are as follows:
We approve the repeated mention of reading whole books, and of reading for enjoyment.
We also approve how the discussion of reading is to lead (amongst other things) to narrative/fictional composition.
We do not, however, understand the approach to poetry. Learning poetry by heart is all very well – perhaps not crucial, but potentially rewarding. There is though no mention of writing
poetry, or of making any use of the poetry learned by heart in terms of developing pupils' own expressive use of language. We assume that this is an oversight, given the equivalent attention to the reading/writing of narrative/fiction. We urge that this matter is addressed, as there is otherwise minimal value placed on exploring the expressive and imaginative capabilities of language, which nourish so much good writing, not just poetry, and which engender a positive, productive engagement with English as a whole.
We have made these comments to the CfSA, which is in turn contributing to a larger response from the NUT. We shall also put them forward independently.
We should welcome the responses of individual NAWE members and invite you to add your comments below.
The DfE draft document can be accessed here