Openness encourages support and sympathy

I have just completed Hard Lessons, a three-part television series about under-achieving children for Channel 4, so I was interested to read David Barrie's article on the prickly relationship between schools and the media.

I, too, have encountered frosty and defensive responses to some of my early enquiries, but I quickly discovered that there were as many schools who were open and friendly as there were hostile ones.

Our approach was to be utterly frank and honest from the outset, laying out in detail what we wished to do and promising - in the Blairite phrase - fairness not favours.

In Merthyr Tydfil, Ludlow and London we found schools prepared to be frank about their difficulties as well as proud of their achievements. We found teachers impressively self-critical and with a burning commitment to raise standards whatever it took. We found heads comfortable with the opinions of their pupils.

Confident schools, irrespective of their league table standing, do themselves a service by allowing us, the tax-paying, child-raising public to see one of our most important institutions at work. Secrecy breeds suspicion; openness encourages support, sympathy and respect.

DENMAN ROOKE

Series producer Hard Lessons October Films Ltd 32 Camden Lock Place London NW1

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