So, Channel 4 is to launch yet another ‘fly on the wall’ series, this one focussing on an Essex school:
Channel 4′s Educating Essex is the most ambitious observational television documentary yet made in a school. The “bog-standard comprehensive” (in the words of its headteacher, echoing Tony Blair’s infamous description) involved is in Harlow, Essex, and its governors agreed for it to be rigged with 65 cameras, so that every lesson, every staff meeting, every infraction of the school rules and every pupil pulling a face behind the teacher’s back, is caught on camera.
At this point, you might be thinking ‘What sort of idiot…?’ and the ‘Indy’ is right there to tell you:
But what on earth possessed Vic Goddard, the headteacher at Passmores School and Technology College (this month, it becomes a co-operative academy), to risk letting his school come under such relentless scrutiny? Passmores recently earned its first “outstanding” Ofsted report – why jeopardise such hard-earned recognition with the notoriously mucky embrace of reality television?
Well, would you believe, he has an agenda to push? I know, who’d’a thunk it, right?
“We serve a pretty tough community, certainly with regard to Essex… mainly white, working class,” says Goddard, a large, warm and jovial man unafraid to lark about on camera.
Now, replace the word ‘white’ with ‘black’ or ‘Asian’. Can you imagine that sentence cropping up in the ‘Indy’? No?
Passmores was eventually selected from a shortlist of 20 potential comprehensives willing to be filmed. “We went for schools that either had outstanding or good Ofsteds, because we wanted to go to schools that felt confident about what they were doing,” series director David Clews says.”We weren’t looking to make an exposé about bad schools… there was no hidden agenda.”
In other words, you wanted to show only the positives. Not the negatives. But no, there’s no ‘hidden agenda’…
Of course, this being fly-on-the-wall tv, you can’t guarantee the outcomes:
One potentially vulnerable student could be Carmelita, who, during this week’s opening episode, makes a career-threatening malicious accusation of assault against the deputy teacher, who has asked her to remove a hoodie – such an allegation somewhat reckless in a building bristling with television cameras (plus the school’s own CCTV cameras).
You’d think so, until you realise that so many of the cases that end up in Essex courts are committed in full view of CCTV.
It’s not stupidity so much as lack of fear of consequences.
And this issue is a case in point:
“All the main students who are featured get to see the film before it goes out, with their parents,” Clews says. “As for Carmelita – she could see that it wasn’t her best behaviour and she says she learnt from it; they were fine about it.”
What has she learnt? That you can get away with it?
There is an ethos of second and third chances at Passmores (“If they do something wrong, we try and pick them up and change their minds through care rather than the stick,” Goddard says) that may strike some viewers as over-forgiving…
You don’t say…
The headteacher, however, is proud of the school’s unwillingness to resort to permanent exclusion, a drastic “solution” Goddard calls “morally wrong”.
That, parents of Essex, is why your schools are jungles. People like this moron.
“I know there will be certain individuals in the media, probably the Daily Mail, who will be thinking we’re too liberal and that we should just be kicking these kids out – but you kick them out and where do they go? I’m very proud that we serve a tough community, but we serve them every day and give them more and more chances. “
“Ultimately the national public is less important to me than what my local community thinks. As long as my local community thinks we’re still trying to do the right thing by everybody then that is all that really matters.”
I can now see another reason why this vain, ultra self-righteous fool wanted to be on tv…
Of course, the ‘Indy’ journo laps all this up:
I’d say that the local community in Harlow is very lucky indeed in having Mr Goddard and his staff to teach their children. And whatever you think of some of the educational abilities on display “What is ‘pie’ [ie, pi]?” asks one pupil, having a Jade Goody moment – or arguably showing a healthy inquisitiveness – during a maths lesson. “Where did it come from?”), if my daughter were at Passmores, I’d at least think she was in good hands and had every chance of passing a happy and productive time at school.
Really? I thank god that I have no kids that might have to attend this place….