In our latest blog post our editorial assistant, Emily Davies, shares her view on the school based reality show at the centre of widespread debate.
Around 3 million viewers tuned in for the first episode of the sequel to ‘Educating Essex’. This time we are given an insight into the school system in Yorkshire via Thornhill Community Academy.
This award winning series once again proved that there is something intriguing about this ‘Big Brother’ type view on our school system. Whether it be the bemused teachers dealing with hormonal, wise beyond their years teenagers, or the staff room banter; whatever it is, it has us hooked.
Critics have argued that by sharing the backstage antics the show allows leeway for the pupils to act in a similar way. Having completed my school years not so long ago, I wish I had seen this side of my teachers. I think this show reveals that it is part of school life to socialize with peers and make jokes – because that’s what people do. For example: a teacher dismissed his class by calling them ‘scumbags’. I can understand why this could cause controversy at first glance but, looking beyond, if the teacher/student bond wasn’t so strong there would surely be a reaction from pupils.
I’m not here to be their friend but being friendly makes the job easier- Jonny Mitchell, Headteacher
If anything, ‘Educating Yorkshire’ shows the wider public the down-to earth, human side of teaching, especially how teachers and pupils collaborate. Young pupils always perceive teachers to simply be adults who are doing their job or at worst ‘out to get them’. In the reality show, the viewers have a chance to see that our schools are run by people who face genuine dilemmas that are dealt with using a combination of humour and seriousness. So, surely this can only be a good thing.
Knowing pupils by name, more importantly by personality, may it be the smartest student to the most troublesome – clearly shows the bond between teacher and student.
We see an example of this as we meet a particularly challenging pupil named Bailey. We see Bailey on numerous occasions spending time in isolation, segregated from her peers. As troublesome as Bailey may come across, we go on to see her be given endless opportunities to redeem herself such as being encouraged to apply for a prefect role.
Unfortunately, despite teachers showing almost never-ending hope and providing extensive support, Bailey is excluded from her end-of-year prom. Not all hope is lost as Bailey shows understanding of her punishment and the respectable relationship yet again shines through as Bailey and a teachers exchange light-hearted jokes about appearances.
When watching ‘Educating Yorkshire’ you can’t help but reflect on your own school days and experiences, be it 6 years ago or 26. I think it’s safe to say what we would class and what a student of today would class as a ‘typical day at school’ contrast greatly. The show allows us to see the daily struggle to educate individuals as individuals, not just categories/numbers/grades i.e. free school meals, boy, girl and ethnic minority. I think it is a interesting gateway to be used as a voice for not only the teachers but students too.
You can’t please everyone! Inevitably, viewers will disagree about the reality show and how it comes across. For instance, how the school chooses to discipline pupils and the way the show is edited – along with a whole host of things.
Thornhill shows that the teachers care about the students regardless of their background/ behaviour. At the end of the day, not only do they get the results but they also believe in what they are doing. Even it is a reality show, I think it’s fantastic to see teachers and students working as a unit with staff who are approachable; this is exactly what schools need. It’s good to see the teachers can put their own spin on teaching by bringing personality into the class environment, instead of just reading page after page of a textbook.
I only wish more schools would follow suit.