A school defended its decision to teach GCSE drama students a play that features violence, suicide and hundreds of expletives.
Key Stage 4 Teddington School pupils are studying gritty drama Mogadishu, which contains the “C word” 12 times and the “F word” a whopping 218 times.
The play’s challenging and contemporary themes, including self-harm, racism and homophobia, promoted one parent to complain to the school, putting it under the national spotlight this week.
Teddington School’s acting head Jeremy Law said the play, written by former teacher Vivienne Franzmann, was recommended to the school by examiners and other school’s drama departments.
He said when a group of year 10 students went to see the play performed the theatre was packed with other 14 and 15-year-old pupils from schools across the country.
Mr Law said: “The play is being studied or seen by KS4 students at a range of schools across the country, both in the private and public sector, including Christian denominational schools and at least one other school in Richmond.”
In the play’s highly-charged plot London secondary school teacher Amanda splits up a fight involving black pupil Jason, who pushes her to the floor.
She refuses to report the matter because she feels sorry for Jason, whose mother committed suicide. However, she faces losing her job after Jason accuses her of pushing and racially abusing him.
Mr Law said since the single complaint the school had received messages of support from parents whose children studied the play, other headteachers, the chairman of the Parent Teacher Association and governors.
He said: “The responses of our students to the play were very mature, thoughtful and well considered. “Students allowed themselves to be moved by its themes rather than be hung up on the sometimes gritty vernacular.
“To imagine that it would have done anything else would do a disservice to their intellect and their grasp of social and moral issues.”
The school said students were advised of the nature of the play and were invited to discretely opt out and study something different if they felt uncomfortable with it but no student made that request.