SECONDARY SCHOOLS AND FURTHER EDUCATION
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 primarily at A-Level English Literature students. We have designed and delivered a range of sessions allied to the WJEC Eduqas, AQA, Edexcel and OCR curricula. To date we have delivered over 120 hours of teaching to over 920 students across 15 institutions.
Since April 2023 we have collaborated with National College Podcast to create literature-themed podcasts with A-Level English Literature students. We make these in a ‘pop-up’ radio station that travels to colleges and sixth forms around the UK.
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).
Meet the Team
Burnley College Podcast
In April 2023, the team created a podcast about South African literature and studying English at university in collaboration with English Literature A-Level students at Burnley College and National College Podcast. You can listen to the episode on mixcloud here:
Trafford College Podcast
In June 2023, the team created a podcast about South African literature and studying English at university in collaboration with English Literature A-Level students at Trafford College and National College Podcast. You can listen to the episode on mixcloud here:
Here you can download handouts that we've been using in our workshops with English Literature A-Level students.
This handout contains a close reading exercise for students working towards the 'Unseen Prose 1880-1910' exam as part of the WJEC Eduqas syllabus.
This handout contains a close reading exercise to help students prepare for the unseen exam component of the 'Love Through the Ages' topic area of the AQA Syllabus A.
This handout contains exercises relating to Marxist and postcolonial literary analysis to help students prepare for the 'Theory and Independence' coursework component of the AQA Syllabus B.
This handout contains exercises relating to the topic 'American Literature 1880-1940' in the 'Comparative and Contextual Study' exam component of the OCR syllabus.
This handout contains exercises relating to postcolonial and ecocritical literary analysis to help students prepare for the 'Theory and Independence' coursework component of the AQA Syllabus B.
This handout contains a comparative close reading exercise to help students prepare for the Edexcel Paper 2 Prose component 'Colonisation and its Aftermath'.
Teacher, Cheltenham Ladies College
‘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, Loreto College
‘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.'
‘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.’
Teacher, Withington Girls Sixth Form
‘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, Carmel College
'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.'
'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. '
Teacher, Runshaw College
'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.'
‘[I have learned that] the links between the colonial, technological and domestic issues are vast and explored through “Modernism” as a literary genre. They may appear in discreet or unexpected aspects.’
Teacher, Cheltenham Ladies 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, Loreto College
'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, Stretford Grammar
'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.'
‘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].”
'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.'
Teacher, Loreto College
'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.'
‘The close reading task helped with improving my analysis skills and broadened my views. It also improved my confidence in public speaking’
Teacher, Withington Girls Sixth Form
'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.'
'In today’s lesson, I further developed my close reading skills. This will be helpful when looking at unseen extracts during exams. I also broadened my knowledge on minority writers and how important it is to include them in our studies.'
'I learnt how to link the language within a text to the literary styles and the context that influenced this. In the future, I will use this knowledge to link specific terms with wider concerns.'
Teacher, Burnley College
'Many students spoke about how the lecture had made them consider approaching more complex and difficult texts in a more open and challenging way.
The students all enjoyed and engaged with the lectures, and all felt that they had contributions to make.'
'Today I have learned how to analyse texts and apply critical theory – as well as what Pan-Africanism is and how it unites black people globally through literature and art.'
'This was an amazing experience that has solidified in my mind that I would love to seek a career in broadcast journalism.’
'I really liked the idea of combined and uneven development, seeing the Global South as prefiguring Western forms and explaining it in materialist terms.'
Teacher, Blackburn College
'What I found most useful about the sessions were the links to the texts on the AQA syllabus and the relevance to current modules (literature students have just finished researching postcolonial and Marxist ways of reading. Great revision of ideas).
A very well organised, well presented session that was relevant to both the Literature and combined English students.'
'The lecture was very interesting, especially the parts on Marxism and discussing the ways in which control is kept through justifying the social economic position of the higher class with the superstructure. I was already interested in the way ideology reinforces our perception of working conditions/relations, and I feel that my understanding has been greatly deepened. I had never in much depth considered the intersection between colonialism and capitalism, and I now think I will make more links when I am analysing literature.'
'This was such an interesting session! I especially liked applying the theories we have learned to a text and working with peers on the text. All key terms were really well explained, and I feel like I understand Marxism a lot clearer now. I now feel more equipped to study English at uni. Thank you!'
'I have learnt how to listen to others' ideas and challenge them, critiquing them. Furthermore, I plan to use close analysis especially on single words and punctuation to enhance my writing.'
'I learnt about the extent of how segregating the apartheid actually was and I was shocked to know how recent it was as well. I think it will push me to think about my own background, being mixed-race myself, and realise the risks my own ancestors took for love and also celebrate how the situations have bettered to some extent.'