An Open Letter to Mr. Gove

Today, some of you may have heard of Mr. Gove's changes to the English GCSE and A-Level curriculum. Now, I am going to write an open letter to Sir, keeping it as polite as humanly possibly, because I have had enough. 

Dear Mr. Gove,

My name is Charli and I am 13 years old. I have been blogging about politics and law for nearly a year, particularly in the Save UK Justice campaign, against your good friend Mr. Grayling. I woke up this morning to an uproar about your changes to the English Curriculum.

Personally, I am disgusted about your new curriculum changes. I can imagine that there has been no democracy to this decision. Why should To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the most influential texts in the world, and Of Mice and Men, be removed from our curriculum?

In September, I will be in Year 9. That means I won't be starting my actual GCSE course, but in preparation to do so. I am an aspiring lawyer, and so both English Literature and English Language A-Levels were a possibility to me. Now, I am not so sure.

English has always been a passion to me. I have adored both reading and writing since the age of two. And now? Now, you are out to destroy that passion, of thousands. Yes, there are a lot of teenagers that don't give one about English, or their education, but some of us do.

I, as much as you, believe Shakespeare and Dickens should be studied. But I, apparently unlike you, believe other texts should be studied too. 

"The Sunday Times" Article today,
which has blown up on Twitter. 

 I want to draw attention to a certain part of this article (right). " 'Of Mice and Men, which Gove really dislikes, will not be included.' ". 

From the article, this is the phrase that may have shocked me the most. You "really dislike" it? I'm sorry, Sir, but you cannot just go around removing things from a curriculum just because you don't like it. If I was education minister and this was how you go about things, I'd be removing maths and science. But that isn't how it works, I'm afraid. 

Another thing I'd like to pick up on is the fact that this "new and improved" curriculum only includes English authors. Not even Irish! The Government want us all to be more tolerant about other races, and then increases the fact that many children are not educated on other cultures. Personally, I grew up on books like Handa's Surprise and many others, and I love reading other books, and books from America. Are you going to change the fact that reception children read Handa's Surprise and do work on it? I can imagine it now.

As a Government, in this one decision, you are turning around all the things you want. You want us to be more tolerant as a society, and what was that other thing? Oh yes... Better results in English. I don't think boring us to absolute tears is the way to do this.

The Colour Purple, which wasn't on the curriculum but deserves a mention, is one of my favourites. I have previously attempted To Kill A Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men. I didn't understand them then, but I guarantee over my summer holiday this year they will be on my (extremely tall) reading pile, studied and written about in depth by me. Why? Because I want to learn. I want to learn about what these books have to give. About our society. 

Today, #tokillamockingbird, #Gove and Of Mice and Men are all trending topics. #Govekillsmockingbird is also high up. People do care. This will not go unnoticed, Sir. 

I could go on for hours, also talking about your changes in general GCSE's and summer holidays, but I won't, right now. All I will say, is I would watch your back. And your post box.

I don't suppose you will ever read this, but if you do, thank you very much.

Charli, age 13,
Justice campaigner who is very concerned for her education and future,
Lover of English


  1. Well said Charli, I've not read "Of mice and men" (I have to admit to being put off Steinbeck at school 30+ years ago) But "To kill a mockingbird" is a really good book about justice.

    Keep at it!

  2. As usual Charli, 'First Class'. Personally, the prospect of you being either a lawyer or Education Secretary gives me a little hope for the future. If haven't thought of doing so already, you might consider sending this to a national paper like the Time, Independent or Guardian.

    1. Thank you so much Colin!

    2. Hi Charli, I definitely agree that you should send this to a national newspaper. You've got the power and advantage of youth (and talent) and I wouldn't be at all surprised if they published it! Love an English teacher, x

  3. Well done Charli! Colin is right, I hope this goes far, it's about right Gove heard it straight from the horse's mouth, rather than relying on his (flawed) rose tinted glasses. Personally, To Kill a Mockingbird remains my favourite book after having to read it for my GCSE's 5 years ago, and Atticus Finch is a character we could all learn a lot from, I hope you enjoy it. I wish you all the best for the future, aim high!!

  4. Dear Charli, I'm looking forward to your first novel :) and if anyone had tried to remove Mr Shakespeare and Mr. Dickens et al from my curriculum in my school days I would have, I'm sure, been equally disgusted though alas I fear I could never have protested in such an eloquent, forthright and determined manner, as You have :). I doubt very much that Mr.Gove is unaware of your letter, which means a lack of response to it could be at the least considered rude :), how could the holder of such an office ignore such a tap on his door :) ... I'm awaiting his response with relish.

    With great Regard,
    Billy Hayes,
    Limerick City,
    In the Land of Wilde, Joyce, Beckett and friends :)

  5. ..... Oh Dear :) it is obviously true that familiarity breeds contempt. Thanks to Wikipedia I now know more of Mr. Gove than I would wish to ....

    " At their annual conference in March 2013, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) passed a no-confidence motion in Gove. This was followed up the next month at the annual conference of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), who unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in Gove, the first time in its history that it performed such an action, and called for his resignation. The audience at the NUT conference were told that Gove had "lost the confidence of the teaching profession", "failed to conduct his duties in a manner befitting the head of a national education system", and "chosen to base policy on dogma, political rhetoric and his own limited experience of education."

    Together these unions represent the vast majority of education professionals in the UK.

    Gove garnered further criticism at the May 2013 conference of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), whose members condemned what they said was a climate of bullying, fear and intimidation that he had created during his time as Education Secretary. The conference passed a vote of no confidence in his policies.".

    I also note that he began his career as a journalist,
    and is married to a writer.

    I'll wager his own bookshelves are hardly confined to the works of English Authors. Every success with your engagement with the secretary Charli.


  6. fantastic charli! just finished doing OMAM for my GCSE (im year 11) and i think its a real shame

  7. Very well said. I hope you send this to one of the national newspapers, and with a degree of urgency. So often these things are hot-topic for a few days before everyone forgets what has been done. I sincerely hope that you receive a reply from Mr Umbridge, sorry, Gove.

  8. This is great, thank you for writing about this. I wrote a much ruder rant on my tumblr (http://irrationalintrovert.tumblr.com/post/86815103883/michael-gove-is-a-twat-and-really-hates-english) but this captures my sentiment in a more presentable manner.

    I'd like to echo the idea of getting it sent to national newspapers such as The Guardian. Gove's incompetence is so utterly remarkable it has become a common topic which everyone in my school can unite over.

    Whether it's fellow students who quite clearly do not like seeing their teachers lacking certainty on what we should be learning, or of course teachers who have had to completely re-start our GCSE in ICT because, despite spending two thirds of our time finishing the course in ICT, Gove decided to scrap it and expected us to complete a GCSE of ICT in a third of the time we would have been allotted.

    Forgive me I'm rambling but his sudden shake up has left a lot of our qualifications in a massive mess, and unsurprisingly, that has riled a lot of people.

  9. Wonderful letter, which should, no MUST, be forwarded to newspapers to expose how people who this affects feel about this abhorrent decision. When I read these two texts as a teenager, it opened my eyes to new styles of writing, new subjects to explore and my literary love may be totally different if i hadn't read these wonderful books. Please Please forward this letter to everyone you can. Be heard.

  10. A well thought out brilliant letter...I am a teaching assistant and the damage this man is doing to our education is dreadful.

  11. I am also your age, and I agree completely with everything above said. It is reassuring to know that there are others of my age that honestly care so passionately about these changes - I had not yet come across one. I agree with the various other comments: please foward this to the papers.

  12. Dear Charli,

    Your intelligent and articutate open letter to Mr Gove should by as many people as possible. I am so sorry that your education is happening right in the middle of all of this.

  13. Thank you Charli you make several good points. At least Mr Gove has not ( as yet) suggested the burning of books, although recalling his other idiotic ideas he might get around to it before too long. I'm not a Christian, but The Bible was I believe not written by a UK citizen I suppose that will eventually be banned. I wonder if he has thought about expurgating the music curriculum, we could get rid of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert. regards, Martin aged 71 and a bit

  14. Well said Charli, you are so right in so many ways, but you are also very innocent and trusting- perfectly right at your age! This government does not want us to be tolerant, or well educated. Books such as Of Mice and Men, and To Kill a Mockingbird make us think, feel and empathise with others- if lots of people do that, they won't vote Tory! Actually, Gove and other tories secretly admire UKIP, because they say what the tories believe, but with the gloves off. Gove doesn't like foreigners of any colour, from any place!


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