Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What sort of example is this to set our children? Teachers call pupils 'scumbags' and the head flicks V-signs at his deputy in school praised as 'outstanding' | THE UNHIVED MIND

What sort of example is this to set our children? Teachers call pupils 'scumbags' and the head flicks V-signs at his deputy in school praised as 'outstanding'

September 22nd 2011

By Andrew Levy And Lynn Davidson

It’s a school where foul-mouthed teachers brand pupils ‘scumbags’ and liberally use four-letter words.

The head delights in flicking his deputy a ‘V’ sign after surprising him by hiding behind the door to his office and insolent children talk back to teachers.

There is also bullying, teenage pregnancy and young girls caked with make-up. One panda-eyed teenager is seen sitting in a maths class muttering: ‘What is pi? Where does it come from?’

The grim picture of life in a comprehensive is part of a fly-on-the-wall documentary series filmed at a school classed as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted – the highest of four ratings.

Pupils, parents and staff agreed to have 65 cameras installed to record life at Passmores School and Technology College in Harlow, Essex. But most emerge from the seven-part Channel 4 series in an unflattering light.

The first episode, which was broadcast last night, focused on deputy head Stephen Drew, who is head of discipline and is described by headmaster Vic Goddard as a ‘sergeant major character’.

Mr Drew, who has held the post for three years, is seen wiping his nose with the back of his hand and during a history class he makes children giggle when he remarks on the name Koch while talking about the German physician who isolated the pathogen that causes Anthrax.

Later, speaking to an interviewer about the incident, he says: ‘Without wishing to sound flippant about it, a teacher has to entertain.’

In another unedifying scene, Mr Goddard hides behind his door as Mr Drew enters the room, only to reach his arm around the door and welcome his deputy with a two-fingered gesture. Mr Drew responds by saying: ‘You are such a ****er.’

The deputy’s career is threatened when he is accused of assaulting a pupil.

The girl, called Carmelita, is seen telling him to ‘get lost’ and ‘shut up’ when he orders her to remove a hoodie.

She is finally excluded when she tells him to ‘**** off’ – only for her mother to ring up and accuse him of assaulting her. He is cleared when CCTV footage backs his version of events.

Carmelita’s mother, Teresa Rann, 46, admitted her 15-year-old daughter was a wild child but now realised ‘that she was totally in the wrong’.

The mother-of-three said the cameras meant that her daughter would learn from the incident.

Another teacher is shown telling pupils ‘Clear off, scumbags’ as they leave his class.

Future episodes will look at bullying – ranging from cyber-harassment to playground scraps – a teenage pregnancy and a pupil who goes off the rails and it taken into care when his parents’ marriage breaks up.

The cameras – put in corridors, classrooms, offices and detention areas – filmed for several weeks during autumn term last year.

At the time, 67 per cent of the previous year’s GCSE pupils had just achieved the equivalent of five or more GCSEs at grade A* to C.

The Campaign for Real Education yesterday said its academic record would be even better if firmer discipline was instilled by parents and teachers.

Spokesman Nick Seaton said: ‘If this is an outstanding school then it doesn’t say much for the rest.

‘This sort of behaviour by pupils shouldn’t be allowed and there is extremely childish behaviour by the teachers, who are setting a very bad example for the pupils as they are all likely to see the programme.

‘There is also the question of whether putting cameras in a school in the age of reality TV is a good idea when most young people want to play up to them.’

Mr Goddard yesterday defended his two-fingered gesture, saying: ‘Mates muck around.’

He defended the way the unruly pupils are handled, adding: ‘We have a very comprehensive intake. Staff have to work very hard here.’

Series director David Clews denied the cameras influenced pupil behaviour, saying they ‘produced revelatory moments’.

But not all the parents liked what the cameras revealed.

One said she had been impressed with the progress her son had made at the school but was concerned about the lack of discipline.

‘How can the teachers say “Stop swearing in my class” when the kids will just say “Well sir, we saw you on television using the F-word”,’ she said.

Another mother said: ‘I’ve always had a few niggling worries about discipline, or the lack of it, and I think my fears were well-founded.’

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