The solution is to revive the idea that English, too, should contain a component of questions which require objectively right or wrong answers to act as a check on marks based on descriptions. That is not difficult to do.
Second, the complete Shakespeare play is, like the one-club golf bag, needlessly limited in the kinds of success it can aspire to. A better way of introducing Shakespeare to 12 to 14-year-olds would be to require a study of Shakespeare's life and times, of the kinds of stage he had to work with; and of some of his best speeches as they might have been staged.
That way, a more differentiated approach is possible, more pupils can be interested in Shakespeare than at present and a firm foundation is laid for key stage 4, when a complete play is uncontroversial.
Such an approach can easily be examined terminally, but, equally, it lends itself to stimulating course-work.
Dr Colin Butler, Senior English master, Borden grammar school, Sittingbourne, Kent