The love poems Orthodox Jewish schools didn't want their pupils to see

Writers whose love poetry was criticised as inappropriate for GCSE pupils by Jewish Orthodox schools, because the feeling was “outside their experience”, have dismissed the complaints as “a little bit silly”.

Several Orthodox schools complained to the exam board AQA after the poems Symptoms by Sophie Hannah and First Love by Brian Patten appeared in GCSE English exam papers.

The schools complained that some of their 15- and 16-year-old pupils taking the exam were not able to answer questions because falling in love “is an experience they are unfamiliar with” a source close to one institution told The Jewish Chronicle.

Some of the students did not answer the questions, even though they were worth a third of the marks available. Several schools raised the grievances with the Board of Deputies, which represents the British Jewish community, and they alerted the exam board.

Ms Hannah told The Independent: “My poem is just about falling in love and being in love. I’m sure many of their teenage pupils have had a crush if only on a pop singer.”


By Sophie Hannah

Although you have given me a stomach upset,/ Weak knees, a lurching heart, a fuzzy brain, A high-pitched laugh, a monumental phone bill, A feeling of unworthiness, sharp pain...... Life now is better than it was before.

First Love

By Brian Patten

Falling in love was like falling down the stairs Each stair had her name on it And he went bouncing down each one like a tongue-tied lunatic One day of loving her was an ordinary year / He transformed her into what he wanted

More: What it’s like to live in - and leave - the ultra-Orthodox sect that banned women driving

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