A London secondary school has been forced to apologise after pupils were told to write suicide notes as part of an English lesson.
Year 8 students at Thomas Tallis School in Blackheath were asked to complete the assignment - which has been branded “insensitive” by parents - while studying Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
Lady Macbeth takes her own life after the power-hungry pair seize the Scottish throne.
But the school, which received a “Good” rating in its last Ofsted inspection, caused outrage among parents when it asked English students to pen their own suicide note while pretending to be Lady Macbeth.
One furious mother told News Shopper that her daughter, who has lost three friends to suicide, was one of the pupils asked to carry out the assignment.
“On what universe was it ever, under any situation, a good idea to ask a group of teenagers to write suicide notes?” she said.
“At least two classes have done this assignment. My daughter is very outspoken but there are other kids not as vocal who might be suffering from depressions.
“I support them addressing suicide but it should be in a supportive environment.”
Headteacher Carolyn Roberts said the exercise will not be repeated again at the school, despite pointing out that an Ofsted officer had praised the exercise in the past.
“A parent contacted us with concerns about a written exercise given to a class during studies of a play by Shakespeare,” Roberts said in a statement today.
“The exercise is a well-known method for getting students to understand this dramatic twist in the play.
“The teacher who set the exercise is very experienced,” she continued.
“We appreciate that the exercise was upsetting to the family and have discussed the subject matter and approach with teaching staff.
“I met with the parent last week and apologised wholeheartedly on behalf of the school and reassured them about the actions that have been taken. The parent accepted the apology in a meeting that was friendly and cordial.”
The school “cares deeply” about the emotional wellbeing of its students, Roberts added.
Useful websites and helplines:
Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41.
Maytree is a sanctuary for the suicidal in north London in a non-medical setting. For help or to enquire about a stay, call 020 7263 7070.