Why study English? We’re poorer in every sense without it | Susanna Rustin

Fewer are taking the subject at A-level and university. Are they being put off by the way government says it must be taught?

The lack of science, maths and language teachers has been talked about for years. But a shortage of English teachers has gone under the radar. Although last year’s target for new trainees was met, in the two previous years it was missed. English used to be among the most popular subjects, both to teach and to learn. Lessons had a reputation for being creative, thought-provoking – and even fun. Philip Pullman, David Almond and Joanne Harris were all teachers before they became authors. But dramatic reductions in the number of A-level entries and applications to study English at university suggest that some of the enthusiasm long associated with English has drained away.

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