Britain's 'strictest headmistress' issues defence of 'dead white men' amid fears of Shakespeare being cancelled in schools

Britain's 'strictest headmistress' issues defence of 'dead white men' amid fears of Shakespeare being cancelled in schools
Dead white men are important too
Aden-Jay Wood

By Aden-Jay Wood

Published: 24/05/2022

- 22:53

Updated: 24/05/2022

- 22:55

Katharine Birbalsingh believes that eventually authors such as Shakespeare "will go" in UK schools

"Britain’s strictest headmistress" believes "dead white men are really important" amid fears that William Shakespeare will be cancelled in UK schools.

UK exam boards have recently broadened their reading lists at schools, which will now include more ethnic minority authors.

The move comes after campaigners and pupils began pressuring schools into decolonising campaigns.

Katharine Birbalsingh talking to Dan Wootton
Katharine Birbalsingh talking to Dan Wootton
GB News

But Katharine Birbalsingh, a headteacher of Michaela Community School in London, has urged teachers to ignore the pressure and avoid scrapping historical novels or plays written by the likes of Shakespeare and Charles Dickens.

Speaking on GB News’ Dan Wootton Tonight, the Social Mobility Commission Chair said she believes while the cancelling of “dead white men” will not be done now, it will eventually happen.

Ms Birbalsingh said: “I don’t think that will happen now, I was saying that that’s to come.

“It’s certainly happening in the US and we tend to copy the US. They say when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold.

“And we have been following America in all sorts of ways with regards to clinical race theory, separating white kids from black kids.

“My worry is, look I’m not saying we shouldn’t teach any black authors, I’m a black author myself.

“At our school, we teach Andrea Levy’s Small Island in our English A Level, having said that I do think that dead white men are really important."

She continued: “These days they are getting cut more and more, Shakespeare is still featuring.

“We teach four Shakespeare plays: Macbeth, Othello, Romeo and Juliet and (Julius) Caesar.

“We get them to memorise some of Caesar’s speech on courage, they belt it out.

“That is very rare, if it happens at all in place. I’ve visited many, many, many schools and I don’t see that happening.

“When I say eventually Shakespeare will go, it could be in five years, it could be ten years, it could be 15 years, but I think that’s the way we’re heading.”

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare

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