OCR is delighted to announce the 15 exciting and diverse poems that we’re adding to our GCSE English Literature this September. In addition, OCR is also introducing more diverse texts to our A Level English Language and Literature, and to our GCSE and A Levels in Media Studies, in September 2023.
Our anthology for GCSE English Literature students will feature many poets that have never been on a GCSE syllabus before and represent diverse voices, from living poets of British-Somali, British-Guyanese and Ukrainian heritage, to one of the first Black women in 19th century America to publish a novel. Of the 15 poets whose work has been added to GCSE English Literature, 14 are poets of colour. Six are Black women, one is of South Asian heritage. Our new poets also include disabled and LGBTQ+ voices.
The 15 diverse poems will be included in our updated GCSE English Literature poetry anthology this September under the themes of ‘Love and Relationships’, ‘Conflict’ and ‘Youth and Age’. The new choices will appear alongside poems by established names such as William Blake, Emily Brontë, John Keats, Sylvia Plath, Jackie Kay and Carol Ann Duffy. Among the poets whose work can now be studied by 14 to 16-year-olds from September are award-winning British-Jamaican poet, Raymond Antrobus, whose poem, ‘The Perseverance', is included within ‘Love and Relationships’ and the Ukrainian-American (and deaf) poet, Ilya Kaminsky, whose poem, ‘We Lived Happily During the War’, is included under the theme of ‘Conflict’. The work of British-Somali poet, Warsan Shire, and British-Nigerian poet, Theresa Lola, – both Young People’s Laureates for London – illustrate the theme of ‘Youth and Age’.
Judith Palmer, The Poetry Society’s Chief Executive, said: “Poetry offers a vital place in the curriculum for young people to experience literature as an urgent living tradition exploring complex contemporary themes. It's fantastic to see this new selection of poems from OCR including poets from such a range of backgrounds and identities, writing in such diverse forms, voices and styles. We are sure young people will welcome the opportunity to study poems by some of the most striking new voices in contemporary poetry, alongside a refreshing selection of classic texts from diverse authors. These poems will speak powerfully to the experiences of young people today.”
Jill Duffy, OCR’s Chief Executive, said: “This is an inspiring set of poems that demonstrates our ongoing commitment to greater diversity in the English literature that students engage with. We’re also bringing in more diverse options for students in other subjects from 2023. Our approach is broad; we want to reflect diversity and inclusivity not just in our qualifications, but in the material we produce to support their delivery, as well as in the assessment of our qualifications.”
For the full list of diverse poems we’re adding to GCSE English Literature, please read our blog. To support teachers, OCR is providing new resources in the form of ‘Poetry Packs’ with a summary of each poem and background of each of the poets. We hope teachers will enjoy teaching the new poems which replace 15 poems that have already been assessed in exams. To find out more, teachers are invited to join a CPD event on the new poems on Wednesday 22 June.
We’ve chosen new texts with the help of many experts; our Lit in Colour partners; a panel of specialists in English teaching and diverse literature; organisations such as The Poetry Society and Poetry by Heart; and English teachers who we’ve surveyed about the options we’re considering. We also have an equality, diversity, inclusion and belonging (EDIB) advisory board which meets termly and brings together 20 stakeholders such as the Runnymede Trust and Diverse Educators to help OCR achieve our wider aspiration to make our qualifications and our materials accessible, relatable and prepare all students for their future studies and the wider world.
For 2023, OCR is continuing to add to the diversity of works that GCSE and A Level students engage with. We’re pleased to confirm four new diverse texts for our A Level in English Language and Literature. From September 2023, the following two poetry collections and two plays by writers of colour will be added to our A Level:
Read the blog by our English team to find out more.
At the start of the autumn term, we’ll also be announcing exciting new content for our GCSE and A Level Media Studies for September 2023.