Educating Essex… and beyond

The world of education (probably) braced itself tonight for the debut of Educating Essex, a documentary that promised to reveal the truth about what happens in our schools. Featuring a secondary school in Essex, the documentary was produced using 56 cameras mounted at various points around the school. An exciting prospect for this teacher who can’t go two steps at a social function without being asked what is going to be done about our uncontrollable children.

For many viewers tonight, the events in the one hour episode will have been a source of concern, surprise and even humour. The demographic that would have experienced those reactions will be, most likely, parents and other members of the public that do not regularly frequent schools.

A smaller proportion of viewers tonight will have experienced pride and hope in almost equal measures. Those viewers will almost exclusively have been teachers.

If Twitter is any kind of barometer then it seems that the gamble by the team at Passmores has paid off. For now.

The general consensus of the #EducatingEssex twitter feed seems to be that Mr Drew, pictured below, is ‘a legend’. It seems many are seeing for the first time just what type of challenges teachers have to face every single day. There may even be some grudging respect within those early 140 characters. For now.

The television viewing public are going to bed tonight with a clearer picture of what their children contend with, or indeed perpetrate, on a daily basis and that can only be a good thing.

What I do think is more important to keep in mind is this: while those pupils were out of lessons creating what they no doubt thought was ‘reem’ footage for the show; hundreds of children were in their classrooms doing what they came to school for.

It’s very early days with the show. I can’t help but like it and be grateful for the light shone on what I do but I also can’t help but watch with bated breath to find out what will it bring to the public debate around teaching and learning? And, maybe most importantly for the children at Passmores, what will Mr Drew do when he inevitably becomes a celebrity?

Educating Essex is on Channel 4 on Thursday’s from 9pm.