My teaching experience has mostly been within mainstream secondary schools, so you can imagine how much I loved Educating Yorkshire. The documentary's depiction of students, parents, support staff and teachers was honest, enlightening and compassionate. I cried when Ryan made his speech to become a school councillor, I laughed when Bailey shaved her eyebrows off, I shouted at the television when Mr Steer refused to accept help despite being so ill that he was covered in bandages and barely able to walk. Naturally, I am loving Educating the East End, too.
However, in the middle of the night, a worry at the back of my brain nudges me. Something is not quite right. There is one thing that sets the Educating. series apart from other fly-on-the-wall viewing. The participants in Bedlam, The Undateables, Big Brother et al are not children. They are adults who are of an age to be able to make considered judgements about possible consequences. They are able to make informed choices.
I worry that the "stars" of Educating. are children. I read that Musharaf now has a TV programme of his own, helping other teenagers with speech impediments to "find their voices". I am sure that he will make a wonderful success of this. But are we not perverting his future? Are the futures of the other participants now no longer in their own hands as they potentially become enticed by the world of easy money and celebrity? Many child stars struggle to cope later in life - Lindsay Lohan, Macaulay Culkin and Oliver!'s Jack Wild, to name but a few.
Schools have a duty of care to their students. Most parents, despite what is said in some corners of the media, respect advice, direction and suggestions from teachers, as the young people do themselves.
But is the lure of national attention for these schools clouding other issues that need to be addressed long before the cameras start rolling?
Debbie Maher is a teacher in Derbyshire
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