W(h)ither Media in English: considering the future of media work in the English curriculum

Over the last few years teaching about media texts has been ‘disappeared’ from English. It does not appear in the National Curriculum and does not feature in the relatively new GCSE specifications. Equally there has been a major battle to ensure that both GCSE and ‘A’ level Media Studies’ specifications will be approved and studied in schools; while these specifications may, in some ways not appear to be wholly satisfactory, this ‘battle’ at least has been won.

However, the majority of Media Studies specialist teachers started out as English teachers who enjoyed media work in English and then specialised. We know that there is still good work related to media in English classrooms but we do not have any systematic evidence of where it is happening.
At the same time, most schools are now academies and can ignore the National Curriculum. Therefore we know that Media Studies has survived, we know that the National Curriculum is no longer the strait jacket that it was and – most importantly – we know that schools should be teaching all young people about the media.

To address these issues, the BERA English in Education SIG holding a day event on February 2nd 2019 which will explore the current status of Media texts within English, and seeks teachers from all phases who are currently doing work with Media texts in English and literacy lessons to come forward and share this practice.

The mission statement of the SIG includes the sentence: There is also a very strong focus on texts of all kinds, especially literary texts but usually including ‘viewing’ in a broad sense, sometimes called Media Education — and these areas shade into digital literacy and uses of technology.

The conference will bring together educators, whether teachers or academic researchers, to reflect on the past but more importantly to look ahead to ensuring that media work is once more important in English and that teachers can develop the necessary expertise to become specialist teachers. Major organisations will be present who have a stake in the future of this key area of education. The day will feature key note talks by Professor Andrew Burn and James Durran, research papers from leading academics and teachers presenting their own practice through papers and workshops.

Draft programme

09:30 Registration
10:00 Welcome and introductions
Professor Andy Goodwyn and Dr Steve Connolly, University of Bedfordshire
10:15 Media in English: a ludic perspective
Professor Andrew Burn, University College London
11:00 Refreshments break
11:15 Workshops and papers 1
12:45 Lunch and networking
13:30 Workshops and papers 2
15:00 Refreshments break
15:15 Keynote
James Durran, North Yorkshire Education Services
16:00 Closing remarks and the way forwards
16:25 Completion of evaluation forms
16:30 Close of event

Call for papers and workshops

This conference welcomes papers that address the conference themes and workshops that provide practical opportunities to show case exciting and innovative work suitable for use in schools.
It also welcomes discussions of research methodology that might be of value in researching the topic and its future and so we are also interested in all aspects of educational research that address the broad themes of improving understanding of the media.
Teacher researchers, Masters and PhD students are all welcome. Papers will be grouped into sessions with 3 or 4 papers that have some common theme or topic.

Workshops will be allocated up to 90 minutes.

The call for papers and workshops will be open until 18 January 2019.
Each proposal should provide:

  • a title, up to 25 words,
  • a 250 word abstract [excluding references]
  • and 5 key words.

All proposals will be peer reviewed and decisions communicated by January 21st. However papers will be accepted within 2 days of receipt if peer review is positive, ensuring that participants can register in good time. For informal discussion about paper proposals and advice please email Professor Andy Goodwyn at andy.goodwyn@beds.ac.uk; for advice on workshops please contact Steve Connolly, steve.connolly@beds.ac.uk.


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 events@bera.ac.uk 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.


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