That'll teach 'em about the Sixties

5th March 2004 at 00:00
A reality TV programme which sent modern teenagers to a 1950s grammar school is to return with a new twist.

Channel 4 has begun advertising for teachers and pupils willing to take part in the second series of That'll Teach 'Em. But the setting for this year's programmes will be a different decade and school - a secondary modern in the 1960s.

Pupils will sit CSEs instead of O-levels and attend metalwork and woodwork lessons rather than Latin and French. Filming will take place this August in a 1960s-built school which the crew will fit with period touches including "new" plastic furniture.

Producer Simon Rockell, a former teacher, said: "We want to see 1960s haircuts and sideburns in the staffroom - I'm hoping we'll get a typing teacher with lipstick and a beehive."

Students will study English and maths alongside a range of vocational subjects such as typing and cookery, as well as extra-curricular lessons in car maintenance for boys and needlework for girls.

Teachers who give up four weeks in the summer to work at the fictional residential school will face more challenging students than those in the original programme.

Last year's grammar school pupils all gained top passes in GCSEs but the 30 students who will be picked for the secondary modern will be predicted grades below C to reflect the fact that they would have failed the 11-plus.

Mr Rockell said rules at the school would seem strict to the pupils, but the teaching would be more student-centred and less authoritarian than in the 1950s series.

He hopes the series will provoke discussion about the role of vocational courses, a crucial issue at a time when the Government is reforming 14 to 19 education.

"It is not saying we should turn back the clock," Mr Rockell said.

"Secondary moderns were about training kids for the local industry, and in places like Coventry those local industries don't exist anymore.

"What we might find is that some kids enjoy their classes more and get a greater sense of self-worth when they produce something tangible, whether it's making a table or repairing a car."

Famous figures who attended secondary moderns include John Prescott, the deputy prime minister, and Delia Smith, the cookery writer.

Teachers can apply to work in the 1960s school at the website www.twentytwenty.tv or by calling 020 7284 1441

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