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Special Interest Group

English in Education

The English in Education SIG is a forum for researchers to investigate what is a broad and complex area of knowledge: our starting point is the school subject of English, but we embrace many aspects of the subject as it exists in all phases of education, and we include all elements of initial teacher training concerned with English teachers. English includes the four language modes, reading, writing, speaking and listening which can be addressed separately but can also be treated as elements of the holistic subject; it embraces literacy but literacy of an emancipatory and critical kind.

English pays particular attention to the teaching of language in schools. There are certain linguistic elements that tend to get high profile attention, such as grammar and spelling, and the scope extends to the kind of linguistics taught in English Language ‘A’ level. There is also a very strong focus on texts of all kinds: literary texts especially, but also visual and multimodal texts, including ‘viewing’ in a broad sense, sometimes called Media Education. These areas shade into digital literacy and uses of technology. There is a continuous and fierce debate about what constitutes English now, but also it has a problematic history as a subject and an always contested and developing future. English is viewed as a key school subject in many countries, and in the UK it shares many commonalities with both international subject English, and with mother tongue education everywhere. The SIG therefore has a very important international and comparative dimension. Whatever else, it is a subject that needs much more research and evidence to support what is truly good practice in the teaching and studying of English.

The English in Education SIG connects usefully with other associations – both research e.g. AERA, EERA and professional e.g. NATE, UKLA and The English Association and also the International Association for Research into L1 teaching. Our events often draw together research, policy and practice, as we are committed to both advancing research within our academic communities, and to supporting the research-engagement of teachers, policy-makers and the wider community linked to English in education.

SIG Convenors

Profile picture of John Gordon
John Gordon, Professor

Professor of Language Arts and Learning at University of East Anglia

I am Reader in English Education at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. I am an experienced English teacher educator, and came into teaching as a secondary-phase specialist in English and Media up to A-level. I currently lead a professional...

Profile picture of Lorna Smith
Lorna Smith, Dr

Associate Professor in Education at University of Bristol

Lorna leads the secondary English PGCE course at the University of Bristol. Her research focuses on secondary English education policy and practice past and present, particularly English as a humane discipline, creativity within the curriculum,...

Content associated with this SIG

Spring 2024

Research Intelligence issue 158: Unheard voices: Language education outside the mainstream

Research Intelligence23 Feb 2024