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Newbolt to now: an interpretation of the history of the school subject of English in England2021 marks the 100th anniversary of The Newbolt Report, the first official report about English, in spirit a liberal document, arguing for an emancipatory English. Since 1870 The School Subject of English [SSE] has experienced several historical phases. One phase [1980-92] is presented as a period of ‘harmonious practice’, arguing that it offers a positive view of a future in which SSE and its teachers are at one. SSE is a democratic and emancipatory project, its boundaries constantly expanding to reflect societal change, the needs of its students and a belief in social justice. In the current ‘panopticon’ phase this emancipatory ambition is performatively diminished. The current dominance of ‘The English Literary Heritage’ and terminal examinations are stultifying teachers. This overview seeks to trace historical developments, considering ways to recapture the spirit of Newbolt but in a 21st century model of English, we are ready for a new phase.