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School visits

A TimesOnline article by Laura Dixon reports that in the U.K., there will be a new Vetting and Barring Scheme for school-visit authors starting this autumn. The Scheme requires the registration of names in a new government database. It is managed by the Independent Safeguarding Authority.

A prominent group of children's authors and illustrators are against the Scheme. They have refused to register in the database, and said they will stop visiting schools in protest. The group includes Philip Pullman, Anthony Horowitz, Michael Morpurgo and Quentin Blake.

"I've been going into schools as an author for 20 years, and on no occasion have I ever been alone with a child," says Philip Pullman, author of the HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy. "The idea that I have become more of a threat and I need to be vetted is both ludicrous and insulting. ... Children have never been in any danger from visiting authors or illustrators, and the idea that they should be is preposterous.”

However, another TimesOnLine article by Nicolette Jones says Pullman was wrong in objecting to the vetting. Jones referred to the case of William Mayne, winner of the 1957 Carnegie Medal, author of about 100 books, and described by the Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature as “one of the outstanding children’s authors of this century”. In 2004, Mayne went to prison for indecent assault of young girls aged between 8 and 16, crimes committed between 1960 and 1975.

* Laura Dixon article
* Vetting and Barring Scheme
* Nicolette Jones article

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