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Pearson Edexcel adds four BME playwrights to GCSE drama text list

Pupils taking the exam board’s GCSE drama qualification will be able to study a more diverse selection of plays from September.

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Books on shelves (Ryan Phillips/PA)

Books on shelves (Ryan Phillips/PA)

Books on shelves (Ryan Phillips/PA)

GCSE drama students will have greater access to black and minority ethnic (BME) playwrights from September after one of the country’s largest education companies has introduced four new texts.

Pearson, which owns UK exam board Edexcel, has joined forces with the London Theatre Consortium (LTC), which includes 14 of the capital’s theatres, as part of efforts to “decolonise” the curriculum.

From September this year, pupils taking Edexcel’s GCSE drama qualification will be able to study a more diverse selection of texts, including Bola Agbaje’s play about race identity and youth culture Gone Too Far! and the North Korean-based drama The Free9 by In-Sook Chappell.

The updated list of texts, which pupils will be assessed on in 2022, includes Tanika Gupta’s India-based adaptation of A Doll’s House and Roy Williams’ 21st century adaptation of the classic tragedy Antigone.

The change comes after a consultation with the LTC and the Royal Court Theatre, who had called on exam boards to include at least two works by global majority playwrights in their set text lists for drama.

It is uplifting to see them lead the way in GCSE drama and we look forward to engaging more student, teacher and industry voices in change within drama classrooms as we continue to work towards an inclusive drama curriculumRomana Flello

Katy Lewis, head of English, Drama and Languages at Pearson, said: “We are committed to working with schools and young people to drive change and create learning environments that reflect the diversity of the modern world.

“We want all learners to see themselves in the literature they study; to find belonging, understanding, and value through representation, and to see our whole society fairly reflected.

“Our work does not stop here.

“As part of our drive to improve diversification, we will also be considering adding playwrights that give us greater representation across gender, heritage, LGBTQ+ and disability.”

We want all learners to see themselves in the literature they study; to find belonging, understanding, and value through representation, and to see our whole society fairly reflectedKaty Lewis

Romana Flello, participation manager at the Royal Court Theatre and chairwoman of the LTC creative learning group, said: “Since 2015, the Royal Court and LTC have worked closely with Pearson to embed better representation of artists from the global majority throughout the teaching and examination of drama.

“It is uplifting to see them lead the way in GCSE drama and we look forward to engaging more student, teacher and industry voices in change within drama classrooms as we continue to work towards an inclusive drama curriculum.”

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