The 12 ages of teaching Shakespeare

29th September 2006 at 01:00
1908 The English Association says Shakespeare should be read aloud as much as possible.

1921 Newbolt Report for The teaching of English in England, encourages active approaches to teaching Shakespeare.

1954 AK Hudson affirms the importance of active approaches in his book Shakespeare and the classroom for The Society for Teachers of English.

Mid-1960s Growing view that Shakespeare is too difficult.

1984 The Shakespeare Quarterly writes: "Virtually everybody acknowledges the need to approach Shakespeare's plays as dramatic rather than literary works."

1986 Rex Gibson's project Shakespeare in Schools begins at the Cambridge Institute of Education. It includes the chance for a teacher in every local authority to carry out a research project on children's encounters with Shakespeare.

1989 The Cox report, English for ages 5-16, is published. It says Rex Gibson's project "demonstrated that the once-traditional method where desk-bound pupils read the text has been advantageously replaced by enjoyable approaches that are social, imaginative and physical".

1990 The first national curriculum requires pupils be "introduced to some of the works of Shakespeare".

1993 Shakespeare becomes compulsory for study at KS3. Teachers say there is not enough time for pupils to prepare and boycott the exams. The first exams are taken in 1995.

1994 Shakespeare becomes compulsory for GCSE English literature.

2001 The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority scrap plans to drop Shakespeare from the curriculum because of a widespread outcry.

2002 Estelle Morris vetoes a QCA recommendation for Shakespeare to be reduced to a 45-minute reading paper. A "shorter writing task" is introduced, leading to criticism of dumbing down.

2005 Charles Clarke approves the QCA's original plan to introduce a 45-minute reading paper.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today