Samantha Wharton portrait

Written by Samantha Wharton

Samantha is a seasoned educator from East London, with ancestral roots tracing back to the Caribbean nations of Antigua and Guyana. She brings a wealth of academic achievements, including a degree in Communications and Media from Brunel University, a PGCE in English and Drama from the Institute of Education at University College London, and an MA in Black British Literature from Goldsmiths University.

English teacher Samantha Wharton takes us through some of the exciting changes to the English curriculum – featuring stories of the Windrush generation.

As well as it being the monumental milestone of 75 years since the Windrush ship docked at Tilbury forever changing the fabric of the nation; this year 2023, also marks significant changes in the English curriculum. For the first time, two playtexts by Black British female writers will feature on the English specification across three exam boards! AQA, Eduqas and OCR have added Leave Taking by Winsome Pinnock and The Princess and the Hustler by Chinonyerem Odimba to their collection of texts for examination in 2025 (available to teach THIS September).  

The play Leave Taking is considerably significant in its relations to the Windrush as the writer Winsome Pinnock foreshadows some of the issues that later arise in the 2018 Scandal. The play written 1997 and produced at the National Theatre (marking the first black female playwright to have a production in this space) tells the story of Enid – a woman in her forties that arrived in England during the Windrush era. She raises her two daughter’s Viv and Del in this new British landscape where she navigates some of the challenges of being Black in Britain. I believe this is a wonderful play that documents an important story that needs to be heard. It is part of our shared British recent history. It shares the universal themes of migration, parent child relationships and belonging. It’s a text that is accessible to all GCSE students and a play that young people will relate to – especially the parent/child clashes and expectations that parents have for their children.  

This is a huge change in the curriculum and one that I feel is much needed. As a teacher of 18 years I have seen many changes in the curriculum that to some extent have narrowed the world scope for young people, especially those that do not read independently. There was very little to no diversity reflected in the texts available at GCSE in particular so this is incredible. I am excited to be teaching this play at my school: St Angela’s Ursuline in London, where we will be part of a  pioneering group to teach this text in the first year of official study! 

I believe that diversity in literature and a range of texts help to foster a love of reading. Generally, readers like to make observations about others and escape to new places through literature. Novels are our gateway to other cultures and ways of life that we may not be able to physically be a part of. It is important that students have this exposure to different texts within the classroom and not just as part of reading for pleasure.

I was also fortunate to be commissioned by Nick Hern Books alongside Lynette Carr Armstrong to create a study guide for Leave Taking. Combined we have over 50 years of teaching experience and have created a resource that will support the learning  of this text for  students and will also provide a source for teacher’s planning to teach this text in the future. 

I encourage teachers, parents and young people alike to engage with these stories! They are an important part of our history and need to be heard! 

For access to Leave Taking (play and guide) as well as AQA conversations for teachers see the following websites:


Study guide: