First Essex, then Yorkshire, now it's 'Educating Walthamstow'

Richard Vaughan

First it was Essex, then it was Yorkshire and now a school in east London’s Walthamstow will be the latest to fall under the spotlight of Channel 4’s Educating… series.

Frederick Bremer School, which only opened in 2008, was announced today as the third state school to feature in the hit Channel 4 series; with 10 episodes scheduled, it will become the longest series yet.

More than half of the school’s students have English as an additional language, while a third are in receipt of free school meals. Despite this, 52 per cent achieved five good GCSEs, including English and maths, last year.

Headteacher Jenny Smith said that the TV show had been successful in showing the nation how schools like hers work to give their young people the best opportunities.

“Both Educating Essex and Educating Yorkshire have transformed public perceptions of secondary schools and I believe that Frederick Bremer will continue this tradition,” Ms Smith said.

“I am incredibly proud to be the head of a school which is so successful in supporting and nurturing every pupil to become successful and responsible citizens. It is our privilege to serve the vibrant, integrated and ambitious community of Walthamstow and I am confident that Bremer will represent how committed community schools such as ours are to ensuring that every pupil is given every opportunity to succeed." 

And she added: “Most of all, I’m looking forward to the series celebrating how talented our young people are.”

The announcement follows last year’s critically acclaimed series Educating Yorkshire, which gave a fly-on-the-wall view of life inside Thornhill Community Academy in Dewsbury, west Yorkshire.

The show was Channel 4’s highest rating series of the year with 4.8 million viewers tuning in, with the final episode named the “TV Moment of the Year” by the Radio Times. It was even handed a Christmas special.

It built on the success of the original show, Educating Essex, which followed the life in Passmores Community School, which later became an academy.

Channel 4’s head of documentaries, Nick Mirsky, said that the show was an enormously important part of the channel’s output.

“Like 24 hours in A&E and One Born Every Minute, it shines a light on the tireless work that is carried out unseen, day in, day out, by our public services with warmth and humour,” Mr Mirsky said.

“Frederick Bremer is a school which – although in a very different part of the country – shares with Thornhill Community Academy and Passmores a population of passionate and committed teachers and charismatic students.”

Thornhill's head Jonny Mitchell told TES that the experience was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

“Of course it’s daunting, but I would be lying if I said we didn't enjoy the limelight," he said. 

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Richard Vaughan

Richard has been writing about politics, policy and technology in education for nearly five years after joining TES in 2008. He joined TES from the building press having been a reporter and then later news editor at the Architects’ Journal. Before then he studied at Cardiff University’s school of journalism. Richard can be found tweeting at @richardvaughan1

Find me on Twitter @RichardVaughan1

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