We need a compromise on Shakespeare

22nd September 2006 at 01:00
The RSC is right to raise concerns about children's experience of the Bard.

Specifically, they are correct to point an accusing finger at the current key stage 3 assessment regime, rather than at secondary English practitioners. Given the targets and league table culture, the high stakes nature of the tests, and the highly reductive mode of assessment in place, teachers will inevitably feel huge pressures to "teach to the tests".

Incidentally, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority is currently consulting on changes to the set plays for study at KS3. The National Association for the Teaching of English remains implacably opposed to the arrangements for the statutory testing of Shakespeare; on the basis that one violently opposed to the death penalty would hardly debate the best method of execution. We would not encourage English teachers to engage in this consultation.

Simon Gibbons Chair, National Association for the Teaching of English 9 to14 committee

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