Alan Bennett: Playwright to return to Leeds school

Alan Bennett.

Alan Bennett.

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ACCLAIMED playwright Alan Bennett will return to his former Leeds classroom to lend a special literary hand to the current crop of pupils.

The writer was born in Armley in 1934 and studied at Leeds Modern School – now Lawnswood.

And on Friday, March 25, he will return to the site of his greener days to read from his diaries and take part in a question and answer session.

The visit has been arranged as part of a programme of activities designed to boost academic standards at the school. The 1,500-pupil school was placed in special measures following its 2009 Ofsted inspection. However, a recent visit judged it as making good progress in all the key areas.

Deputy head teacher Will Carr told the YEP: “We are delighted that Mr Bennett was willing to come back to his old school and support us.

“This is an indication of where we are going as a school.

“We are aiming for academic excellence.

“Having the nation’s foremost playwright visit the school is a thrilling prospect for the school and its community.

“We have had a difficult time in the past but we have had a brilliant recent inspection and we are heading in the right direction.”

Since its 2009 Ofsted report, Lawnswood has passed a series of monitoring visits by inspectors, and bosses are confident of coming out of the special-measures category before the end of the year – earlier than expected.

Butcher’s son Alan was born in Armley and attended Christ Church Primary – in the same class as fellow Leeds writer Barbara Taylor Bradford – before moving on to Leeds Modern. He attended the West Park secondary school between 1946 and 1952, before heading to Oxford University.

He found early fame with his 1960 collaborations with Dudley Moore, Jonathan Miller and Peter Cook in the satirical revue Beyond the Fringe, later winning acclaim for his series of monologues Talking Heads and his plays The History Boys and The Madness of George III, among others.

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