Don't dream that issues are anything new

22nd April 2011 at 01:00

It was interesting to read John d'Abbro's comments on Jamie's Dream School ("I'm Jamie's dream head - the recipe was irresistible", 15 April). The series was edited in a way that made the headteacher's role seem fairly ineffectual, and I had been wondering what his perspective on things was.

Perhaps it's inevitable when the needs of programme making and real life clash, but it's a fundamental problem for any school leader to be asked to run a school where there seem to be so few strategies available for making sure that students follow basic ground rules.

Plus, given that there were no other teachers on board, the role of head was reduced (at least on camera) to a negotiator, diplomat and possibly appeaser. I found myself asking: "What is the head doing here that Jamie Oliver can't?"

I think the programme, for all its pedagogic inaccuracies, was a tremendous success, for the reasons listed in the article. Alastair Campbell (the surprise Top Teacher) said it best when he pointed out that it was important no one came away from the project thinking Dream School had provided any answers that hadn't already been considered in education, or were possible in national state schooling.

I think the programme would have benefited tremendously from a stronger teacher voice - maybe some critical feedback on camera from other teachers, or even from the head, to remind the viewer that there are people who have met these problems for centuries: teachers.

For me, the pivotal moment was when Jamie was scratching his head and saying: "I'm worried the behaviour of these kids is stopping them from learning."

And a million teachers leapt from their sofas and shouted: "You don't say!"

Tom Bennett, Author of Not Quite a Teacher,

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