• A tale of two conferences: L.A.T.E., two key moments in the development of ‘London' English and the questions that still need asking

      Gibbons, Simon (Taylor & Francis, 2012-09)
      Current and recent policy around curriculum and pedagogy for English in England has seen a lack of principled thinking about what the subject should be and how it should best serve the needs of children. In postwar England, in London in particular, teachers and academics working within the London Association for the Teaching of English (L.A.T.E.) were engaged in just such principled thinking, driven by the need to formulate a ‘new' English in the context of a changing school landscape and a changing school population. Central to L.A.T.E.'s work was the focus on the child, and the need to devise a model of the subject that was, at its core, responsive to the experience, interests and language of students. Given the direction central policy around English has taken in the past 20 years, this article considers the importance of reevaluating L.A.T.E.'s work, and considers two key conferences in the history of the Association as important watershed moments in the development of these aspects of ‘London' English. In doing so, it argues that the questions for which L.A.T.E. members sought answers are precisely those that should be asked today, but that seem to be absent from policymakers' debates about English.