Exam board joins Lit of Colour programme to help diversify English Literature

Pearson has joined Lit in Colour, a programme launched by Penguin and The Runnymede Trust to explore how to increase UK students’ access to books by writers of colour and those from minority ethnic backgrounds.

Teenagers reading a book at school

Pearson, the world’s learning company, has joined forces with Penguin Random House UK and race equality think tank The Runnymede Trust to become part of the Lit in Colour programme.

As the UK's largest awarding body, Pearson will work with Penguin and 100 secondary schools to offer support and resources to encourage the integration of English Literature set texts by writers of colour at both GCSE and A Level.

Read on to find out what's on offer and how schools can take part.

About Lit in Colour

Lit in Colour is a programme launched by Penguin and The Runnymede Trust in 2020 to explore how to increase UK students’ access to books by writers of colour and those from minority ethnic backgrounds, and ensure the teaching and learning of English Literature better reflects contemporary culture and society.

As a first step, the two organisations have commissioned a major piece of research to review the current state of play in English Literature education, building on Runnymede’s previous work on race equality in schools and the History curriculum. This research will explore what is currently being taught in English lessons in both primary and secondary schools, gather views from teachers, parents and young people, and make practical recommendations for change. The results are expected to be published this summer.

Lit in Colour also offers practical support to both primary and secondary teachers including training, book donations, digital materials and author events.

You can find out more about Lit in Colour here.

Sign your school up for the Lit in Colour Pioneers Programme

Over 25% of set texts offered by Pearson at GCSE comprise authors of colour, including novels by Malorie Blackman, Meera Syal, Tanika Gupta, Jamila Gavin and Benjamin Zephaniah / Lemn Sissay. In coming together, Pearson and Penguin want to inspire and empower more teachers to consider teaching these set texts by offering free support, resources and training.

100 secondary schools in England will be offered the opportunity to participate in a new Lit in Colour Pioneers programme, receiving free access to:

  • Copies of the Penguin set texts for every student in the relevant year group
  • A programme of work and series of free resources including CPD training webinars for teachers and school librarians, plus qualification switching support and training where required
  • Support programmes of work for each set text, including creative content from authors including videos and a range of resources to support the specification
  • A Lit in Colour mini library including 300 free Penguin books by writers of colour designed for all age groups, together with colourful posters and artwork
  • A student ambassador programme

The programme, which will open for applications in March, will support any school or college looking to diversify their English Literature curriculum by teaching one of Pearson’s new GCSE or A Level set texts, starting in September 2021.  Schools can register their interest for the Lit in Colour Pioneers programme at

In addition to the bespoke support for 100 schools, the Lit in Colour Pioneers programme will offer all secondary schools across the UK free access to the online training events and workshops, as well as free digital teaching resources. Visit the above link to register your interest and find out more. 

Additional free resources for English teachers

Separately, as part of its commitment to support teachers and school librarians to celebrate and teach more books by writers of colour, Penguin will also be releasing a range of free resources over time, for all age groups. These resources will be aimed both at the English literature and language curriculum, and also to support reading for pleasure and extracurricular activity.

Find out more and download these free resources here. If you are a teacher, make sure you also sign up to our Lit in Colour newsletter to receive more information about Lit in Colour, including how to share your views and access to book donations and resources. 

A link to two of our new Lit in Colour teaching resources - Minty Alley and Burnt Sugar

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