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TV fodder for reactionaries

Channel 4's latest reality-TV experiment, That'll teach 'em, in which a bunch of individualistic, self-confident year 11 pupils are immersed for a month in a recreated 1950s grammar school, is gripping the nation.

So far we have seen the smiles wiped off the teenage guinea pigs' faces as they have been variously reduced to tears, forced to take cold showers, or humiliated to discover their knowledge of maths is not sufficient to pass the old 11-plus. Round one to the traditionalists.

But will the progressives have the last laugh? Dr Elizabeth Pidoux, who plays the stern part of housemistress in the series, but who in real life teaches at the King's school in Canterbury, certainly hopes so. "I'd love to prove the reactionaries wrong by attempting to deliver a set of talented 16-year-olds into an old examination system and see them excel." The series ends on September 2.

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