Valentine's Day DVDVideo and Resource Pack

4th February 2005 at 00:00
Valentine's Day DVDvideo and resource pack. Red Rose Chain. pound;30+VAT. www.redrosechain.co.uk

Many primary teachers will be sadly familiar with the key scenes in this effective and thought-provoking little film.

Six-year-old Jason stands on a table and throws chairs; an exasperated teacher insists Jason be excluded; the child himself doesn't want to talk about the damage to his eye that seems to be the result of "a little tap" he suffered at home; Jason's dad bursts angrily into the school, calling the new teacher (Mr Valentine) a pervert; an Ofsted inspection looms.

Red Rose Chain is a theatre and film company that works with young people.

It is committed to engaging with contemporary issues and to reaching out to new audiences.

This film was developed through a series of drama workshops: it brings professional actors and camera crew together with Oliver Hellis (six) and Katie Chilvers (nine), who play Jason and his sister with convincing proficiency. The half-happy ending doesn't detract from the disturbing nature of what we have witnessed.

Valentine's Day only lasts seven minutes, but it can lead to many hours of fruitful discussion at staff meetings and on training courses.

Subjects that arise naturally from the story include why Jason creates problems in the classroom and playground and how we might learn from him about what lies behind his behaviour; how teachers might choose to intervene and the sanctions they can use; how to deal with violent and abusive parents; and what forms of outside help might be called on when things are too serious to keep in school.

Perhaps the most intriguing and painful topic is how teachers under stress can undermine one another's efforts to follow a just and compassionate course of action.

Jason's story is part of the troubling reality behind league tables and ministerial exhortations, and Red Rose Chain have done good service in bringing it to wider attention.

Tom Deveson

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