Demise of testing regime is no reason to bin the Bard

7th November 2008 at 00:00

Nothing sums up the philistine madness of the Sats regime better than your story on touring Shakespeare companies losing work because of the abolition of the key stage 3 tests ("No Sats proves bad for the Bard", TES, October 31).

It seems we have reduced some of our schools to such a state of utilitarian myopia that tracking and testing has become their sole raison d'etre.

I can think of many reasons to have a theatre group in school performing Shakespeare. When I was teaching in Liverpool, we invited the Black Box theatre group every year - in a primary school with no pressure to teach the Bard.

These magical afternoons introduced our pupils to the high drama, the spills and thrills, the intrigues, mirth and tragedy of our greatest literary figure. They extended pupils' spiritual and moral horizons. Most of all, they entertained.

Do we really need to stick pointless objectives on such a rich cultural experience? Great art is its own validation. As for the Sats, validation have they none. Let's celebrate the passing of the KS3 beast and go on to slay the KS1 and KS2 dragons. Once more unto the breech!

Alan Gibbons, Children's author and teacher, Liverpool.

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