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  • 8 May 2014, 0:52

A-Levels May Feature Russell Brand And Dizzee

Students will ponder the language of Russell Brand and UK grime star Dizzee Rascal in a new English A-level set to come in next year.

The "diverse" syllabus will take in classics from the likes of William Blake and Shakespeare, but also see analysis of Brand's evidence on drugs policy at the House of Commons and Dizzee's interview on Newsnight.

Students on the combined English Language and Literature A-level may be asked to comment on "mode, purpose and audience", said the OCR exam board.

Other unorthodox texts on the course include newspaper column The Secret Footballer and the work of cross-dressing Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry.

"The aim is for students to develop the skills to analyse any text, whether spoken or written, literary or non-literary, in the most appropriate way," said the OCR.

Educational charity The English and Media Centre (EMC) is helping develop the course.

Barbara Beliman, its co-director, said the A-level would offer "teachers and students the flexibility to explore an extremely broad variety of styles, methodologies and genres".

Actor and comedian Brand called for a more compassionate treatment of drug addicts when he appeared in front of MPs in 2012.

Among his evidence he told them: "As the great Tupac Shakur said: 'Role is something people play, model is something people make - both of those things are fake'.

"What I want to offer people is truth and authenticity in the treatment of this illness."

He also referenced TV show Dad's Army and, when warned his time was running out, told the Home Affairs Committee: "Time is infinite. We cannot run out of time."

And Dizzee Rascal was interviewed alongside Labour peerBaroness Amos about Barack Obama's historic election as US president.

He told Jeremy Paxman: "It doesn't matter what colour you are. It matters what colour your heart is, man, and your intentions.

"I think a black man, a purple man, a Martian man can run the country, whatever man - as long as he does right by the people."

The OCR's Hester Glass rejected any suggestion of "dumbing down" and said the qualification would improve students' chances of finding work.

"It will provide a firm grounding for university and improve employability in any field that requires an ability to use language in a practical, agile and articulate way - from science, business or politics to the arts," he said.

The exams' regulator must sign off the content of the new A-level before it is used in schools and colleges.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "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.

"New A-levels also have to go through a new review process, undertaken by academics from Russell Group universities, to ensure high quality content."

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