More hope than glory so far;What the teachers say

25th June 1999 at 01:00
Comedian turned actor Lenny Henry played a headteacher turned inspector turned headteacher in BBC1's Hope and Glory, which began this week.

William Atkinson, headteacher of the Phoenix school in Hammersmith, which was in special measures before his arrival in April 1995: "It could just as easily have been set in a police station or on a ship.

I would give it only four or five out of 10 for realism. We understand that the head has managed to turn round a dreadful school, placing it among the top ten in the country after just three years. That is very misleading. A school deemed to be failing could not do that.

"It's not a promising start. Not at all. On the basis of the first episode it won't be helpful to the profession at all. Too many of the characters are crude caricatures."

Martin Tibbetts, headteacher, Cheslynhay primary school, Walsall: "I thought it was an opportunity lost. Potentially the theme had a lot of mileage in it but it was handled on soap opera lines. It lacked reality, for example the school assembly scene was unrealistic: the children were almost at riot pitch and then suddenly they were calm as anything. That lacked credibility. If it was trying to get to the core of the issues, then it failed."

Richard Warne, headteacher, Ashburton high school, Croydon, which was taken off special measures in February this year 18 months after he took up the post: "I helped a bit with the series, I read the scripts and advised on technical things. Some professionals may see it as unrealistic in places. But it portrays a very sympathetic view of teachers throughout the series, which tends to be rare in the media.

"Turning a school around isn't just the efforts of one man, it is about teamwork: this is not apparent in the first episode, but it becomes more apparent further into the series.

"Lenny Henry is good at showing natural humour: in this game you have to have humour, show respect for children and have a desire to win" Anna White, headteacher, The Ridings school, Calderdale: "I have very mixed feelings. I applaud the idea and I am very glad someone's done it, but it is simplistic, too sentimental and rather pious in places. It was portrayed as one person, a super-head, turning things round. You need strong leadership but it really has to be about teamwork.

"Lenny Henry says 'I believe I could make a difference': our motto is 'Together we can make the difference' - staff, children and parents. But it showed that there is nothing nicer than making a difference to children's lives. And perhaps it will encourage more young people to be teachers."

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