AS GCSE students sat down to the last ever English exam featuring a question about Of Mice and Men on Monday morning, a Lymm tutor’s Facebook tribute to the novel went viral.

Sharon Cawley, 44, has been teaching John Steinbeck’s novella to pupils for more than 20 years.

On Sunday she wrote a Facebook post about how much she would miss teaching the book and by Monday morning the tribute had racked up more than 1,700 likes and 560 shares.

“It’s touched lots of people, it just confirms how important literature can be in a young person's school life and how strongly they feel about this book,” said Sharon.

“I was feeling quite low at the weekend and I realised it was because it’s the end of an era for this book that has been with me for many years, I thought of having to say goodbye to the characters.”

The novel, which has been on the GCSE syllabus for more than 20 years, was dropped when the then education secretary, Michael Gove, insisted pupils focus on British literature.

Students will now study one Shakespeare play, poetry from 1789 onwards, a novel from the 19th century such as a Charles Dickens text and a British novel or play written after 1914.

But Sharon said: “We should celebrate our British heritage through literature but it shouldn’t be at the expense of classic American literature.

“Of Mice and Men could have stayed alongside the British texts that every child already studies.”

She said the novella is incredibly popular with students and parents feel bereaved that they cannot pass on their memories of the book.

“I loved teaching it even in the lower ability groups who called it ‘Of Men and Mice’ – it gave children who may never read another novel again a chance to join in conversations about books,” she said.

“When you meet past students they often don’t remember a great deal of their education but they remember this book.

“Of Mice and Men appeals to all abilities and to both boys and girls. The novel brings a sense of equality.”

Sharon, who has been running Conexus Tuition since 1995, said: “It’s such a memorable book because it’s about a sense of injustice – Curly is a bully and gets his comeuppance. 

“It’s about two hardworking men with morals and it’s about the brutality of life in the 1920s.

“Whatever you say about children they don’t like injustice and they get behind those characters and they root for them.”