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Our work with schools and colleges has three aims:

  • to extend the reach and impacts of AHRC-funded research​

  • to assist student learning and preparation for A-Level English Literature assessments

  • to support and enhance decolonising efforts in English Studies​

Since January 2021 we have been working with schools and colleges to develop a series of lectures and workshops aimed at A-Level English Literature students. We have designed and delivered a range of sessions allied to the WJEC Eduqas, AQA, Edexcel and OCR curriculums. To date we have delivered over 80 hours of teaching to over 530 students across 12 institutions, and we look forward to working with more students and teachers this academic year (Sept 2022-June 2023).

Our activities have been generously funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership grants; the Research Impact and Public Engagement Fund (University of Salford); and the School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology (University of Salford). 


Dr Jade Munslow Ong

Jade is a Reader in English Literature at the University of Salford.

"The study of literature allows us to ask big questions about the world. In my work with schools and colleges, I support students in finding their own answers to these questions, whilst trying to absorb all that they have to teach me too!"

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Dr Emma Barnes

Emma is a Lecturer in English Literature and Knowledge Exchange Fellow at the University of Salford.

"When I was studying literature at school, canonical literature was always the central focus. Now, I enjoy working with schools to introduce students to fantastic works of literature from around the world. The study of literature is a great way to broaden our horizons, and learn about the world around us." 


Hannah Helm

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Dr Vashti Suwa-Gbolagun

Vashti is a recent PhD and poet affiliated to the University of Salford. Her PhD was on poetic responses to tin mining and environmental degradation in Nigeria.


“Teaching and working with young people is always fulfilling for me. I encourage students to develop an appreciation of literature from other cultures."

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Chris Turner

Chris is a PhD student at the University of Salford researching Arthur Conan Doyle, adaptation and representations of evil in the 'post-Moriarty' villain.


"The study of literature has offered me new perspectives on history and different cultures through an often deeply personal lens. It has allowed me to explore many different views and contexts, and offers infinite routes for new research. Reading, studying and teaching literature opens avenues of learning that I am keen to share with others."


Katie Barnes

Katie is a PhD student at the University of Salford researching representations of femininity, reproduction, motherhood and feminism in contemporary Irish literature. 


“I’ve always had a passion for English and now I really enjoy bringing that passion into schools and colleges to explore the possibilities that literature from around the world can offer us.”


Dr Sanja Nivesjö

Sanja is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Salford / Uppsala University researching representations of inter-racial love in Southern African literature.

“The reason I teach and research literature is the same reason that I read it: because it’s fun! The primary function of literature is entertainment, and I mean that in the widest possible way. Literature engages us, it intrigues us, it carries us along on a journey, lets us into the lives of others, and pushes our boundaries.”


Meet The Team


Natalie Ilsley

Hannah is a Research Assistant / Impact and Engagement Fellow and PhD student at the University of Salford researching femininity, madness and disability in nineteenth-century children's literature. 


"I really enjoy working with schools because I love to share my passion for English with others, enabling them to access the joy, creativity, and inspiration that literature can bring."

Natalie is a PhD student at the University of Manchester researching resilience, migration, and creative methods.


"Questioning what, why, and how we read is a crucial skill that can open up alternative perspectives. Collaborating with students, learning how to do this is something I am passionate about, particularly in schools and colleges when you live in a world of possibilities!"


‘I found so many aspects of this lecture useful! The introductions to key concepts were incredibly clear and will have helped to introduce new concepts to our GCSE students and reinforce existing understanding for our A level/IBac students. The most useful aspect was the introduction to the key concepts of postcolonialism and the concept that a modernist tradition was at work in Schreiner and Plaatje’s writing before it appeared in European modernism. My Head of Department and I are considering how we might use Plaatje’s work in our Comparative A Level coursework next year as a result of this suggestion.


The argument that Schreiner and Plaatje are modernist writers gave me a way to teach South African Literature in a meaningful way in my A level classroom. I would like to explore the possibility of teaching Plaatje’s novel (as modernist text) in comparison with a 21st century text as part of the A Level coursework next year.’

– Teacher, Cheltenham Ladies College

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‘The lectures build on ideas that we've been introducing and developing with our students over their course, and it is absolutely wonderful to have this reinforced and extended in such a thought-provoking way. My class are really ready for the concepts and terms that are explained so clearly, and they are totally engaged in the vital project of decolonising their world.

The materials provided were pitched exactly right for our students, and gave them plenty of challenge – mine were familiar with the New Woman and also beginning to perceive imperialism and colonialism as major factors in English Literature, but this crystallised a lot of ideas for them and for me. I could hear pennies dropping!

Hannah’s interaction with the students was lovely – she put them at ease and made them feel confident to speak.'


– Teacher, Loreto College

‘After participating in such an insightful lecture, I realized how narrow my literary scope is – I am yet to be exposed to literature outside of my culture and those from esteemed British and American writers. The local curriculum needs to change, and I hope that someday I can expand the literary scope in the education sector. It will not be easy, but I aspire to be like Mhudi, fearlessly facing challenges and rising against the social norms.’


– Student participant


‘The session you organised last year for us was outstanding and the girls loved it. Quite a lot of them went on to write about post-colonialism in their coursework as a result and three of the girls applied to read English Literature at Oxbridge!'


– Teacher, Withington Girls Sixth Form

It was really helpful to be able to link the contextual features with the text. I found it became easier to do this as I read further, as well as being able to utilise the different concepts that were discussed in the lectures leading up to [the workshops].”


– Student participant

'Particularly interesting was the context on the Boer war, the human zoos, the large section of the world falling under the British Empire. I felt listening to the lectures – why aren’t we taught this stuff at school? It felt like a crucial re-consideration of the curriculum.'


– Teacher, Carmel College

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'The delivered content highlighted (for both me and the students) the current limitations we generally encounter with the exam board, who seem to take preference for white, British male writers. It has prompted me to look for ways to expand the reading list we deliver.


[The sessions] successfully consolidated students’ existing approach to unseen extracts (i.e. unpacking key ideas to do with setting, characters, language, tone, themes etc) whilst encouraging them to give (more than usual) weight to contextual ideas and interpretations, especially colonialism and the Empire. I think students found this refreshing as they were given more freedom to connect the dots between social history and literary interpretation.'


– Teacher, Loreto College

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'No one had ever suggested to me before the idea that modernism wasn’t only an Euro-American innovation. The lectures and workshops have definitely widened my horizons and made me think more about the real origins of literary forms and different types of texts. '

– Student participant

'I thought that the things Natalie and Jade prepared for my students were excellent, and really stretched them in interesting ways whilst remaining engaging and appropriate for their learning. It certainly gave them a good taste of university level study too. The notes were really helpful, and I’m sure will be used in essay writing and exam preparation from now on. I found your research topics fascinating, and I hope that one of my students decide to write about an Olive Schreiner text for their coursework essay, so I have an excuse to read more around the topic.'

– Teacher, Stretford Grammar

'I really enjoyed [the sessions] and very interesting and necessary to read things in this context. We learn about literary movements but never from an African perspective or any other perspective other than British.'

– Student participant

'Tying the literature in with historical context is an important part of the A Level and I think it helped the students gain a better understanding of the real life implications of the issues in the novel. While we try with the texts that we study to expand their current cultural knowledge, we are operating in the confines of the specification so I think it opened another door for them to explore.'

– Teacher, Runshaw College

'Post 2015, the scope of the texts we are required to cover in preparation for [GCSE and A-Level] examinations are very limited, with a focus on ‘British’ authors. Dr Munslow Ong’s introduction to South African Literature and Post-colonial theory was accessible and informative, allowing students to gain an understanding of Abrahams’ interesting text, which they might not have encountered otherwise. 


I’m not sure that my students would have had chance to explore ideas of post-colonialism before this lecture. The key concepts and definitions were thoroughly and carefully explained to them and I could see that the concept was an eye opening one for them. I could see that the girls were particularly moved by the way that Peter Abrahams articulated the ways that extractive capitalism treated and discussed native peoples as a resource to be exploited, just like the natural environment.'

– Teacher, Cheltenham Ladies College

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'The workshop was an excellent opportunity for students to work at university level and gain experience of seminar style teaching.  Emma provided very thought-provoking resources and adapted the pace according to their level of engagement and understanding in a way that was very skilful.'


– Teacher, Loreto College

'The sessions definitely changed the way our students think. I was impressed that they could now examine modernist aspects in two unseen texts, which was evident during the tutorial sessions.'


– Teacher, Withington Girls Sixth Form

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