Students challenge head teacher for banning award-winning Scottish play over ‘sexual content’


Reports say Black Watch was removed from study choices due to ‘sexual content’

FIFTH year pupils and parents at Webster’s High School in Angus have criticised school censorship following a head teacher’s decision to remove Black Watch from the curriculum.

The Sunday Herald reported that those studying the work were banned from considering the play by dramatist Gregory Burke due to Jane Esson’s concerns of its ‘sexual’ content, although it was unclear what this specifically related to. (click here to read more)

Black Watch has been celebrated as one of the most significant works of Scottish theatre in the 21st century. Based on interviews with soldiers sent to war in Iraq, the play considers the impact of conflict and the history of Scotland’s military regiments.

16 and 17-year-old students, who had already compiled course work notes on the piece, called on Esson, the head teacher, to reconsider the ban.

Parents of the pupils backed the call to stop the censorship of the work in comments released to the Sunday Herald.

“Mrs Esson has evangelical beliefs and this may have some bearing on how… she thinks the school should be run which is basically censorship. All of these pupils are young adults and should be treated with the respect they deserve,” said one parent.

Webster’s High School Parent Council asked to meet with Esson to discuss the issue, but she failed to turn up for the meeting.

Parents and pupils refute the claims of Angus Council education chiefs that another text had been chosen by the Higher drama class.

Another parent told the Sunday Herald that Esson told students that “she didn’t want them knowing about all this sexual stuff… she said she didn’t want them talking about it, studying it or even thinking about any of these sexual references”.

Picture courtesy of Duncan C