Empty words;Cross-phase;Reviews;Books

8th January 1999 at 00:00
WORDS ALOUD. Books 1 and 2. Chosen by Anne Harvey Guildhall School of Music and Drama pound;6.95

These two anthologies of poetry, prose and drama have been put out by the Guildhall School to accompany its new graded examination syllabus in Speech Communication and Drama. The syllabus is designed for children and adults taking a solo approach to drama through such activities as verse reading and public speaking. Doubtless with an eye on a rather larger market, the books are also advertised as a resource for National Curriculum English at key stages 1 to 3.

Unfortunately, they contain little evidence of the "modern and innovative educational philosophy" claimed by the publisher for the Guildhall syllabuses. On the evidence of these two volumes, it is hard to believe much has changed since my own long ago experience of the speech and drama medal industry.

Although presumably selected to match the difficulty of the examinations at each grade level, the pieces have no other apparent raison d'etre. Jammed tightly on the page, they are neither linked thematically nor explained. And as every teacher of English knows, it is contextualisation that makes reading aloud meaningful. The books will probably serve their examination market adequately, but the absence of context makes is hard to recommend them for wider use in schools.

David Hornbrook is Arts Inspector for the London Borough of Camden. His latest book, 'On the Subject of Drama', was published by Routledge last April

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, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today