DAME Judi Dench has clarified she was not referring to her York secondary school when she disclosed how poor teaching nearly put her off Shakespeare for life.

Towards the end of last year the Oscar-winning actress, who attended The Mount School between 1945 and 1953, told a national newspaper she was put off one of Shakespeare's most-studied plays, The Merchant of Venice, after being made to recite it in school, saying it had "completely ruined" the work for life.

Dame Judi had said: "I remember having to read in a class and them saying you have to read six lines each. Six lines each of the ghastly Merchant of Venice, regardless of who was saying them. It made it a complete nonsense. I never liked the play and I should never have played Portia – there, I’ve said it. It ruined the play for me, completely ruined the play.”

However, she has since clarified she was not talking about the private school, but "her last year in Miss Meaby's primary school" - understood to be the colloquial name for the then Clifton School and Nursery.

The Mount School has said it is grateful for the clarification which came via her personal assistant.

A spokeswoman for The Mount School said: "It goes without saying that The Mount is as proud of our association with Dame Judi Dench as we are with all our alumnae who choose to live adventurously and 'walk cheerfully throughout the world', to quote George Fox.

"While it is a relief to understand that the teaching which for her ‘completely ruined’ Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, was not encountered while she was a student at The Mount, it was immensely reassuring when current students and parents, on reading the article, responded with positive comments and feedback in support of the school as it is today. We are grateful to Judi Dench for this clarification and remain resolute to inspire and educate girls who are capable of taking up the many opportunities that life will offer them."

The school still has photographs of Dame Judi's performances as an angel in the Mystery Plays in the Museum Gardens in 1951 and as Titania in the school production of a Midsummer Night's Dream in 1953.

Dame Judi won a best supporting actress Oscar for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare In Love.