English exam board to remove Irish writers

An English exam board will remove works by Seamus Sheaney, Brian Friel, and Eavan Boland from A-level courses.

English exam board to remove Irish writers

An English exam board will remove works by Seamus Sheaney, Brian Friel, and Eavan Boland from A-level courses.

OCR, the exam board, stated that it would introduce "new texts by different authors" to its 2023 English Language and Literature A Level.

OCR has removed Seamus Heaney’s poem Punishment from its GCSE poetry anthology.

According to the exam board, they made these changes in order to provide more diversity.

Nadhim Zahawi, Education Secretary in England, stated that the removal of poetry by Philip Larkin from the same course was cultural vandalism.

Punishment was first published in Heaney's 1975 collection "North". It compares the discovery in a bog of an ancient woman's corpse to "tarring & feathering" during The Troubles.

It was previously taught in the OCR's English Literature, GCSE anthology's 'Conflict' section. However, it is being replaced for September 2022.

Among those being removed from the Conflict section are poems by William Blake, Thomas Hardy and Wilfred Owen.

OCR students can study poems from Heaney’s 1966-1996 collection Opened Ground and Boland’s New Collected Poems during the A-Level.

Other poets included in the course include William Blake, Emily Dickinson and Carol-Ann Duffy. Jacob Sam-La Rose is also on the course.

They will continue to be on the revised A Level, but Boland and Heaney's work will be replaced by poetry from Malika Bucher and Fatimah asghar in 2023.

Brian Friel's play Translations will also be removed from the A-Level courses plays section.

It was originally set in 19th-century Donegal and first performed at the Guildhall, Londonderry by the Field Day Theatre Company in 1980.

The revised OCR A Level will continue to include plays by Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Oscar Wilde, and Jez Butterworth.

Friel's drama, and the work of Timberlake Wertenbaker, a British playwright, will be replaced by Inua Ellams and Nina Raine.

These changes will mean that Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal and Wilde's play are the last texts by Irish writers on OCR's English Language and Literature A Level.

BBC News NI contacted OCR in order to find out why the board had decided to remove the works. However, the exam board referred to a statement that was already on their website.

OCR posted a blog post on their website stating that the A-Level changes were made in order to add "some different, diverse texts to English qualifications".

They stated that they would replace two of the most neglected texts in Component 2 for poetry and drama with new texts from diverse authors.

Seamus Heaney, who was 74 years old, died in 2013. He was born in Bellaghy in County Londonderry. In 1995, he won the Nobel prize in literature.

Brian Friel, who was best known for his plays Translations and Dancing at Lughnasa, and Philadelphia, Here I Come, died in 2015 at the age of 86.

Eavan Boland, who passed away in 2020, was one Ireland's most admired and well-known poets.

OCR is the largest English exam board and some schools in Northern Ireland have some of its qualifications.

However, it isn't believed that it is used in Northern Ireland for English A-Level.

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