[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 17 February 2006, 20:48 GMT
School play love scene 'ban' fear
John Owen
John Owen was said to have had a power over some of his pupils
Pupils could be barred from acting out love scenes in school plays if draft guidelines are followed, warn teachers.

The proposals follow an inquiry into abuse by a south Wales drama teacher, who killed himself after being charged.

Teachers claim the guidance could mean plays such as Romeo and Juliet could be robbed of kissing and lose meaning.

Wales' deputy children's commissioner said the media had been "hysterical" over the recommendations which merely offered "common sense" suggestions.

The draft guidelines published by the assembly government could be adopted in England, but the Welsh Assembly Government insisted it would not ban kissing.

Many learners are uncomfortable with kissing in performance because of the physical intimacy that it entails
Extract from draft guidelines arising from Welsh children's commissioner's report

Owen, who taught at the Welsh-medium secondary school Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen in Pontypridd, was found dead a day before he was to stand trial for child abuse in October 2001.

A review of drama teaching was one of the chief recommendations of the Clywch inquiry into the allegations against the late drama teacher John Owen.

Assembly government draft guidance said drama teachers needed to "consider carefully what gestures and movements are appropriate to communicate the emotion" and "what gestures and movements are acceptable".

It continued: "For example, many learners are uncomfortable with kissing in performance because of the physical intimacy that it entails" and said "in most cases, a peck on the cheek or an embrace can communicate the required emotion".

A scene from a BBC production of Romeo and Juliet
Could star cross'd lovers Romeo and Juliet lose their impact?

It added there was no role for "nudity or intimate physical contact", and teachers should consider banning strong language if it was in the best interests of pupils.

Mr Clarke's deputy, Sara Reid, said media coverage of the draft guidance, which AMs are to discuss, had been "unhelpful" as it had a "misleading interpretation".

She said: "There are suggestions there on ways to convey affection on the stage, and they are things that a skilled drama teacher would be familiar with already."

If this isn't fit subject matter for children, perhaps they should put on EastEnders after the watershed
Margaret Higgins, National Association for the Teaching of Drama

Plaid Cyrmru education spokesperson and AM for north Wales, Janet Ryder, also said interpreting the guidelines would come down to "common sense" on the part of teachers.

She told BBC Wales that what had happened previously was that drama material was going before examiners that nobody had seen before.

'Explicit nature'

That material was of a "very explicit nature and it was an abuse of the children taking part. That cannot be allowed to happen," said Ms Ryder

But Margaret Higgins, of the National Association for the Teaching of Drama told the Times Educational Supplement: "You can't just cut out scenes like the kiss in Romeo and Juliet.

"It is a crucial moment. If this isn't fit subject matter for children, perhaps they should put on EastEnders after the watershed."

However, an assembly government spokesman said the guidelines would not ban kissing or give a set list of texts for students.

"The draft guidance does not ban kissing, but it does stress that the safety of children and young people must always take priority over the integrity of artistic work and that there should always be a clear rationale for the use of an explicit gesture or action, such as a kiss."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Director fears guidelines may prompt self-censorship




PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific