The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1611  Tuesday, 31 August 2004

From:           John Webb <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 31 Aug 2004 11:11:16 +0100
Subject:        Teachers in Agony over Shakespeare Tests

This is a link to an article in The Times, 30th August, titled "Teachers
still in agony over Shakespeare tests":


There is free access to that page for 7 days only.

Here are some extracts from the article:

This year's national curriculum Shakespeare paper, which was supposed to
be related to Macbeth, instead asked teenagers to dispense advice in the
form of an agony aunt. The question was worth 20 per cent of the marks
for the entire English test taken by secondary school students.

The test was set by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, which
was condemned by English teachers last year for setting a question on
Henry V that simply asked students to write about people they admired.

Another, on Twelfth Night, told teenagers that Malvolio was a character
who did not like people to enjoy themselves, then asked them to write a
speech for school assembly on banning chips from the canteen menu.

Schools chose to study either Macbeth, Henry V or Twelfth Night for this
year's Shakespeare test, the same plays as those examined in 2003. The
question for students who had been studying Macbeth began: "In Macbeth,
Banquo warns Macbeth about the Witches' influence." It then asked them
to imagine that they were giving advice to readers of a young people's
magazine and to respond to the following request: "I have recently moved
school and made some new friends. I like spending time with them, but my
form tutor thinks my work is suffering. What should I do?" A QCA
spokeswoman said the question was "designed to have a thematic link to
the Shakespeare test". ...

Bethan Marshall, a lecturer in education at King's College London, and
spokeswoman for the London Association of Teachers of English, described
the paper as "feeble", saying: "It has absolutely nothing to do with
Macbeth or Shakespeare. This is just about the only proper piece of
literature that students are required to study at Key Stage 3 and the
test just downgrades Shakespeare completely." ...

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