Led by the late, great educationalist, Professor Ted Wragg, the programme (‘research’ project) sets out to explore what it takes to engage some of the country’s most difficult students, excluded from the schools many times and often out of English (and other subjects) for several terms. The kids are housed in a barn (a significance not lost of this viewer).
The kids are made for a TV producer’s dream, all f-ing c-t this and d-kh-d that. Oh no, that’s Phil again with his dumbed down kid-speak. There’s Kirsty (“My god, she’s going to come at me!”), Grace (“Just the thought of anger management makes me angry”; Wragg remarks, almost admiringly, that “she’d be good in a war.”) and Dale, the toughest of the lot who looks he should still be at junior school but can smoke like a pro and is fluent in vivid Anglo-Saxon. Yet, plucky Phil wins them over by teaching punctuation in the style of a Samurai warrior. But of course.
With all respect to Wragg (who’s thinking has influenced thousands of teachers), how fair and reliable can any conclusions about effective teaching be when we know the editors sit behind their wizard’s curtain at Channel 4 weaving a visual narrative that does more to teach us about how to manipulate your TV audience than about manipulating troublesome teens. And what might we conclude, from the way the narrative is presented? That being a bad kid is damn good fun (little cheeky tikes, bless’em). That the teachers just haven’t been doing it right.
To be continued….