Add more Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic representation into the AQA English Literature GCSE

After becoming more and more aware of the English literature GCSE as an English teacher, I've realised that our young people are feeling under-represented, misunderstood and therefore unimportant. In 2017 around 1% of children's books featured a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) character despite around 32% of pupils of compulsory school age being of minority ethnic origin (source: When these children reach their GCSEs only a less than acceptable handful of the texts are by BAME writers.

The picture of the current AQA English Literature GCSE, quite clearly, needs to be more diverse:
• 6 x Shakespeare plays (6/6 White British Male)
• 7 x 19th Century novels (0/7 BAME writers)
• 6 x Modern Drama (0/6 BAME writers)
• 5 x Modern Prose (2/6 BAME writers)
• 15 x Power and Conflict Poems (2/15 BAME poets)
• 15 x Love and Relationship Poems (1/15 BAME poet)

Put simply, of the 54 texts on offer to our young people in the current AQA English Literature GCSE, only 5 BAME writers are present.

I also want to apologise, that if my display of the figures above might interpret as me reducing human lives to statistics, I promise you, I am not. Instead, I want to show the clear and necessary reason as to why I started this petition. I worry that AQA will make the same error as EDEXCEL by proposing texts which claim diversity but which in fact tokenise or 'other' BAME characters. Please see link below for more information on this.

I'm sure you'll agree that young people deserve to know they matter and one of the most fundamental ways to demonstrate this is through the literature presented to them.

I am asking AQA to encompass high quality texts which celebrate the wonderfully diverse nature of England in 2020 to the English Literature GCSE.

To me, that truly would mean that AQA has achieved their aim of creating a GCSE which "inspire[s], challenge[s] and motivate[s]" (source:

Follow this change on Instagram @_therightwriting_ and Twitter @therightwritingg


For clarity:

*GCSEs stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education; they are the qualifications that students study for in their final year of secondary school in the UK.

*AQA and Edexcel are two of the leading examination boards in the UK.

*I want to acknowledge that I am aware the term BAME is problematic as it 'lumps' together the experiences of marginalised groups. However, I have simply used it here for ease of communication and to make my message to AQA clear. As part of this change I expect AQA to look at the experiences of different marginalised groups and to take this into consideration when making any decisions.

Update #43 years ago
AQA have responded to my commitment request saying ‘we commit to ensuring future specification reforms are more reflective of BAME writers and that our exam curriculum offers opportunities for diversity and race to be explored.’ We have their word but this is only the beginning. I will continue to liaise with AQA, I have some exciting plans for raising more awareness and am working collaboratively with other educational institutions. Thank you so much for the support so far. We won’t give up.
Update #34 years ago
AQA GCSE Breakdown PART 2 OF 2

Next is Poetry.

Students either study the Love and Relationships or Power and Conflict cluster.

Again, AQA offer no restrictions about how modern the poems can be. So again I ask why only 3 of them are by BAME poets (across both clusters I might add).

The next section is Unseen Poetry. Again, no restrictions here.

What’s stopping you AQA?

Update #24 years ago
AQA GCSE Breakdown PART 1 OF 2

The Lit GCSE has 5 sections. After Shakespeare is the 19th Century Novel; the most difficult section to change because of the lack BAME writers published in the 1800s. Note I said difficult. Not impossible.

Next we have modern texts (play or novel). This is where it is particularly unforgivable that there isn’t enough BAME representation. AQA only state that the text must be post-1914. I think 100+ years is long enough to find some diverse texts, don’t you AQA?
Update #14 years ago
SOME recommendations for AQA

19th Century Novel: Sarah E. Farro’s novel 'True Love' was 1 of only 4 published by an African American women in the 1800s.
‘Modern’ Texts: 8 out of 12 of the texts are White British males which doesn’t sound very modern at all. Where’s Maya Angelou? Where’s Toni Morrison?
Poetry: Students could read amazingly diverse poets like Inua Ellams and SuAndi.
At the moment they aren’t reading any of this. This will continue unless AQA make a change.

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