Parents back head’s decision

Black Watch logo
Black Watch logo

The head teacher of Webster’s High School has received the backing of members of the school’s Parent Council regarding her stance on the ‘Black Watch’ play.

As it emerged no other secondary school in Angus is currently studying the controversial play by Gregory Burke, Parent Council chairman Geoff Hobson issued a statement backing Mrs Jane Esson’s decision to withdraw the play as a study text for the Higher drama class.

Mr Hobson contacted the ‘Herald’ following further media coverage over the weekend which referred to an on-line petition, set up by a former Webster’s pupil, which calls for the decision to be reversed.

The petition has received the backing of professional actors, politicians and writers.

Mr Hobson said: “At the well attended parent council meeting on Tuesday (March 17) Head Teacher Jane Esson reiterated that, following a parent’s complaint regarding the play ‘Black Watch’ and after consultation with the school’s senior staff and the drama teacher, it was removed as a whole class study text for the S5 Higher Drama in early December.

“The text continued to be available to any pupil who wished to borrow it for private and home study and it will also be available for study in S6 at Advanced Higher.

“When the play was first introduced to this group in October, a third of the pupils were only 15 and the remainder 16. It was noted the DVD of the ‘Black Watch’ (a BBC production of the NTS play) is rated 18, as “suitable for 18 years and over”, and that the play is not on any SQA approved list.

“The majority of parents at the meeting support the head’s decision, as do the staff.

“All parents deplored the ill-informed and hostile press coverage and personal vilification of the head teacher, including those who disagree with her decision.

“The Parent Council wish to draw a line under this issue and move on continuing to support an excellent school and head teacher.”

Angus Council has confirmed no other secondary school in Angus, including Forfar Academy, is currently studying the play.

When contacted on Monday a spokesman for the SQA said: “The ‘Black Watch’ is not currently on the set text list for the existing Higher Drama qualification, but SQA does provide schools and colleges with guidance on the choice and suitability of texts in our course support materials.

“For the new Higher there is no SQA ‘set text list’ or ‘SQA approved’ list for Higher Drama. The choice of text is entirely a matter for the school, based on a number of factors including the age, stage and maturity of the candidate group being presented.”