Programme treated teacher unfairly

18th October 1996 at 01:00
The BBC Panorama programme notorious for attacking Britain's "incompetent" teachers has been censured by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission for its portrayal of a newly-qualified teacher.

The programme, broadcast last November, achieved massive publicity after the chief inspector, Chris Woodhead, told viewers that 15,000 teachers were so poor they should be sacked.

But this week the commission found that Panorama had been unfair to a key witness, primary teacher Elizabeth Delafield, who was presented as an example of incompetence and peppered her speech with the phrase "sort of".

As reported in The TES, Ms Delafield complained bitterly, saying she had only agreed to be interviewed for a programme about management bullying. She told the commission she had been misled about the true aim of Panorama and that her contribution had been unfairly edited.

This week the BCC upheld Ms Delafield's complaint. A summary of the full adjudication appears on page 2 of TES2.

It says that "insufficient information had been given to allow her to understand the context in which her contribution would appear.

"Viewers would have been left with a distinctly negative imnpression of her and the Commission consider that, if she had been given more information about the programme she would probably have declined to take part. Consequently they find some unfairness."

Ms Delafield, who now teaches in London, is contractually unable to speak to the press. But her husband, Stewart Blackledge, said: "I regard this programme as a deplorable attack on a committed and hard-working teacher. My wife is a good teacher who has received favourable reports from a number of schools, including the one at which she now teaches.

"The BBC approached her, saying they were making a programme about management bullying. She agreed to speak about a very distressing time as she believed that highlighting these issues may help teachers experiencing the difficulties she had overcome."

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