ACCLAIMED Scottish writers Ian Rankin – of Rebus fame – and Louise Welsh have called on a head teacher to U-turn on her decision to ban pupils from studying the play Black Watch because it has offensive language and adult themes.
An open letter to Jane Esson – head teacher at Webster’s High School, Kirriemuir, Angus, was signed by a number of influential writers including Rankin and Welsh.
Last week it was revealed that Jane Esson stopped high school drama students from studying the SQA approved text about the Iraq war because of foul language and sexual content.
She has stuck to her decision to ban the play after complaints of censorship from parents of the 16 and 17 year olds studying drama.
The open letter – co-signed by Fiona Morrison-Graham – vice-president of the writers’ association Scottish PEN and screenwriter Michael Cullen said: “The nature of Black Watch’s language allows us to hear soldiers speak in their own voice about their lives and the effects of momentous political decisions.
“When we ignore those voices, we step away from an important dialogue about our society, and our understanding is worse for it.
“In the spirit of such constructive dialogue, we would support the pupils and parents of Angus High School. We respectfully ask the head teacher to reconsider her decision and allow her students to continue their study of this essential piece of Scottish culture.
The letter is endorsed by the executive committee at Scottish PEN.
One parent who wished to remain anonymous said: “This is ridiculous and childish.
“She is a head teacher and she needs to explain why this brilliant Scottish play has been banned yet the kids can still read Shakespeare or Chaucer which are littered with sex and cursing.
“In our view it is censorship in the extreme and the more she stays quiet about it the worse it’s going to get”
Jane Esson was unavailable for comment yesterday (Sun).
She has been the principal at the school since last August and failed to attend a parent council meeting to discuss the issue last month.
She has been invited to another meeting on March 17 but has yet to confirm her attendance or answer any questions regarding why Black Watch was banned.