Conference Papers

Creative Writing in GCSE English Language: Exploring English Teachers' Philosophies, Pedagogies and Practices

In this presentation, I will report on my findings from a mixed methods (primarily qualitative) PhD Study. My research examines English teachers’ perceptions of creative writing (CW) in GCSE English Language. My study is closely aligned with the conference theme in regard to its focus on how meaning of CW is constructed and situated within a complex socio-political landscape. The inception of the research coincided with a period of significant change within GCSE English Language. National Curriculum and GCSE syllabus changes led to a reconfiguration of the meaning(s) of, and assessment criteria for, CW. Set against this complex and changing political landscape, the research set out to investigate how English teachers had responded to these changes.

I initially conducted a critical discourse analysis (CDA) of GCSE English Language curricula, which helped to illuminate and interrogate the meaning(s) of creative writing in each examination board’s syllabus. Through my critical analyses of these discourses, I unpicked both latent and explicit meanings of creative writing. Following my CDA of exam board documents, I conducted a survey to gauge what CW meant to GCSE English teachers. 72 teachers engaged with the survey. I then invited survey participants to participate in further research, which led to the formation of six case studies. Each case study comprises survey, lesson observation and interview data, thus enabling me to triangulate different sources of data.

My initial analyses of these data sources suggest that CW is conceptualised and approached by English teachers in diverse ways. However, it is clear from my analyses that the exam syllabus, mark schemes and assessment objectives are all a key factor in developing notions of CW. I suggest that, in the context of this study, a fixed definition of CW is problematic. Instead, I draw attention to the complexities and multiple meanings of CW. Furthermore, while creativity and the imagination may be identified within GCSE syllabi aims, mark schemes and assessment objectives tend to focus upon the more technicist aspects of writing.

Building on the overview above, I will expand upon the research context, methods and findings in the presentation. While I will primarily report on my own findings, I also welcome observations from other attendees regarding the role of CW in the curriculum. I am a former student of Education Studies and I now teach the subject myself (as an Assistant Lecturer), so I welcome the opportunity to engage with other practitioners within the subject.

Snape, R. (2019) 'Creative Writing in GCSE English Language: Exploring English Teachers' Philosophies, Pedagogies and Practices', paper presented to The 15th Annual Conference of the British Education Studies Association (BESA), 27–28 June, viewed 13 August 2020, <>