Press Release

The English Teachers Association of Western Australia calls on education authorities to urgently address the decline in the number of students studying Literature in Years 11 and 12.

The Association believes that the study of Literature in Western Australian schools has reached a state of crisis as the result of a review conducted by the Association which found that:

  • the percentage of students studying Literature in Year 12 has decreased from 26% in 1998 to 11% in 2016
  • the number of schools offering Literature has decreased from 135 in 2001 to 97 in 2017, despite the increase in the number of schools and students
  • the situation is especially serious in government schools where the number of such schools offering Literature has decreased from 74 to 31 over this time, thus placing government school students at a disadvantage in comparison with their private school counterparts.

The Association believes that the following factors have contributed to the current situation:

  • the ATAR marks standardisation procedure employed by SCSA and TISC
  • the requirement that students studying Literature must achieve a scaled score of at least 50% in Literature to satisfy the language competence requirements for entry to Curtin, Murdoch and UWA Universities
  • the SCSA policy which does not allow students studying Literature to sit the English examination as private candidates
  • the fact that a significant number of English teachers do not feel adequately prepared to teach Literature, due to the selection processes and training programs in university teacher education programs
  • the mistaken perception amongst teachers and students that Literature is a difficult, elitist subject
  • the fact that the Year 12 WACE Literature examination is pitched too high for many students who would benefit from and enjoy studying Literature
  • lack of adequate attention to the study of literature in Years 7-10, partly due to the constraining effects of preparation for NAPLAN testing.

The Association intends to address some of these issues through its professional development programs but calls on relevant education authorities to urgently review those policies and procedures which discourage students from studying Literature.


Claire Jones, ETAWA President
ETAWA Office
Tel: (08) 9427 0878