School scraps ‘sexualised’ play about bullying as the word ‘horny’ was in script

A secondary school has scrapped a play deemed to be “sexualised” after a mum complained about the word “horny” being in the script.

Pupils at Alec Hunter Academy in Braintree, Essex, were rehearsing for Sparkleshark, a play written by Philip Ridley about overcoming bullying, which is performed by numerous secondary schools around the country.

The play features characters aged 14 to 16 and follows a boy called Jake as he struggles to deal with school bullies.

Yet one mum of a 12-year-old pupil said that she was disgusted after her daughter asked her what “horny” meant after apparently reading it in the play's script.

The mum, who asked not to be named, said: “My 12-year-old texted me during break asking me what ‘horny’ meant.

"I didn’t realise it [horny] was in a school production they had to learn, which includes the sexualisation of underage children."

She branded the play as "grooming material being distributed to children as young as 12".

Sparkleshark was originally commissioned in 1997 for the National Theatre's youth theatre scheme.

The play has since been performed worldwide and is studied in drama classes at some English schools.

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Despite Alec Hunter Academy performing Sparkleshark for "many years", the state school now says it will drop the play and find a new production in its place.

Headteacher Trevor Lawn said: “Whilst it has been a popular stage play studied by our students over many years, and in numerous other schools nationwide, we have recently received complaints about the content from concerned parents.

“We discussed the matter and a prompt decision was taken by the drama department to replace Sparkleshark with an alternative play for students to study, through which the same skills will be able to be taught."

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