School forced to apologise after pupils told to write suicide notes for English homework

Children at Tallis School in southeast London were given the task as part of their studies on Shakespeare's Macbeth play

Rachael Pells
Education Correspondent
Saturday 24 June 2017 11:23
Comments

A school in London has come under fire after telling 60 teenage pupils to write suicide notes during an English class assignment.

The task was given as part of the year group’s studies on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, in which Lady Macbeth dies “by self and violent hands”. Children were asked to imagine Lady Macbeth's thoughts in her suicidal state.

Senior staff at Thomas Tallis School in Kidbrooke apologised for upsetting students, some of whom are said to have friends who have taken their own lives.

One mother said three of her daughter’s friends had killed themselves, and that her daughter was “very distressed” after being asked to write the note.

She said she complained to the school as soon as her daughter told her about the task.

“On what universe was it ever a good idea to ask a group of teenagers to write suicide notes?” she said to local newspaper News Shopper.

“At least two classes have done this assignment. My daughter is very outspoken but there are other kids not as vocal who might be suffering from depression.”

Another said: “It’s fine for children to learn Shakespeare, but it is certainly not fine to get them to write suicide notes. Whoever came up with this needs to go back to teacher training college.”

Tallis School headteacher, Carolyn Roberts, said “action had been taken” and that similar projects would not happen again.

“A parent contacted us with concerns about a written exercise given to a class during studies of a play by Shakespeare,” she said.

“We appreciate that the exercise was upsetting to the family and have discussed the subject matter and approach with teaching staff.

“I met with the parent last week and apologised wholeheartedly on behalf of the school.”

* This article has been updated to make clear that the children were not asked to write their own suicide notes (ie as themselves) but to write a note by imagining the thoughts and feelings of Lady Macbeth in her suicidal state. 26/6/17

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in