From the Guardian:

A-level students will study Russell Brand’s views on drugs and Caitlin Moran’s Twitter feed alongside more conventional literature in a new A-level that was immediately denounced as “rubbish” by sources at the Department for Education.

The OCR exam board said it had teamed up with an educational charity, the English and Media Centre, to develop the A-level in English language and literature to study unorthodox texts, such as a BBC Newsnight interview with rapper Dizzee Rascal and the work of former Guardian columnist the Secret Footballer.

OCR said the exam – a separate course from English or English literature – would include an anthology which included extracts from Brand’s testimony on drug use to a parliamentary committee and tweets by Times journalist Caitlin Moran, as well as more conventional fare such as Samuel Pepys’s diary entries.

But the education department launched a scathing attack. A senior DfE source said: “Schools should be aware that if they offer this rubbish in place of a proper A-level, then pupils may not get into good universities. We will expect other exam boards to do better.

“It is immensely patronising to young people to claim that they will only engage with English language and literature through celebrities such as Russell Brand.”

Gove has said he wants to make A-levels and GCSEs more rigorous and focused on writers such as Shakespeare, while stripping out assessment and relying more on end-of-course examinations.

The DfE’s official response hinted that the new A-level would fail to receive approval to be taught in schools from Ofqual, the exam standards regulator, under recent revisions to A-level course content published by the department.

“All new A-levels must be accredited by the independent exams regulator Ofqual against new, more rigorous criteria. This exam has not been accredited and we await Ofqual’s decision with interest,” a DfE spokesman said.

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