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Past event

English in Education – Curriculum and Assessment


Online registration has now closed. If you want to attend this event, please email for details of how to register onsite.

This one-day event provides a forum for researchers, teacher-educators and teachers to discuss our current English curriculum and the ways in which the subject is assessed in school and FE/HE contexts.

It is framed particularly by the alarming decline in the uptake of English at A level and degree level: an issue which begs the question of whether this is in part a consequence of a narrowing of the curriculum and particularly of how the subject is assessed. It is also designed to respond to the recent statement from Amanda Spielman of Ofsted that “too many teachers and leaders have not been trained to think deeply about what they want their pupils to learn and how they are going to teach it,” by offering a forum for teachers and those who work closely with them to discuss how schools can develop curricula and assessment practices which are creative and research-informed. Debates around the divergence of the curriculum from contemporary forms of communication, the concepts of ‘quality’ inherent in the curriculum and the privileging of certain aspects of the subject will all be highly relevant.

Keynote speakers include Cathy Burnett, Professor of Literacy and Education at Sheffield Hallam University.


09:30 Registration and refreshments
10:00 Introduction: Why focus on curriculum and assessment?
Dr Annabel Watson, University of Exeter
10:10 Curriculum and Assessment in English 3 to 16:
a Better Plan
John Richmond
11:20 Parallel session 1 

Presentations: Reading in the Curriculum 

19th-century unseen GCSE texts: opening up archives to overcome challenges and create opportunities


iPads In the Secondary Literature Classroom: Exploring the pedagogic value of multimodal response for developing students’ critical voices.


Core issues in curriculum development: the perspective of an exam board


What do we teach in a Secondary English PGCE?  What is English Pedagogical Content Knowledge and how does the new Subject Knowledge Enhancement position English as a subject? A discussion around the notions of ‘knowledge’ in English and how this is interpreted by PGCE programmes.

Convened by Rachel Roberts, Sian Ashman, Dr Bethan Marshall, Lesley Nelson-Addy, Lorna Smith


Writing from a Second Language Perspective

Mark Brenchley

12:20 Lunch and networking  
13:00 The messiness of literacy: unsettling simple accounts of literacy through a baroque perspective on virtual play
Professor Cathy Burnett, Sheffield Hallam University  
14:15 Refreshments break    
14:45 Parallel session 2

Presentations: Language in the Curriculum

Mind the gap: dis/continuities in the UK assessment of L1 English language


‘I know what it does but I just don’t know how to say it’: moving beyond grammar implementation towards a verbalizable understanding of linguistic potential


Beyond the grammar test: grammar to shape meaning

Presentations: Problems and transitions

Can there be a ‘knowledge-rich curriculum’ in English? Examining the epistemological identity of English in secondary education


Being ‘good at English’? The problematic concept of ability in English


Bridging the gap: a widening participation transition project for more able learners in English supporting transition from Year 6 (primary) into Year 7 (secondary).



Assessing Writing

Phil Durrant,  Helen Lines,  Annabel Watson, Rebecca Clarkson


15:50 Interactive Plenary session:
Where next for teachers and researchers?

With Professor Angela Goddard, Joe Nutt, Kate Newton
16:25 Completion of evaluation forms  
16:30 Close of conference    


The BERA Early Career Researcher Network offers a limited amount of bursaries to the value of £75 towards travel for BERA Student Members only.

To apply for one of these bursaries, please email with a 250 word statement on why you want to attend this event and why you need the financial assistance. Bursaries are offered on a first come, first served basis. Travel expenses will be reimbursed after the event in accordance with our travel policies. You must not have previously received bursary funding from BERA.