Wednesday 7th April sees the return of Waterloo Road, the BBC 1 drama set in a Rochdale Comprehensive School. Education and Society will be taking a critical sociological look at this new series, as it has done with episodes from earlier series. It is fiction, it does not accurately represent reality, and, Waterloo Road is not typical of every comprehensive school in the country.
It is, of course, a representation of reality, and belongs to a discourse which sees comprehensives schools as dangerous places full of teachers who, perhaps should not be teaching, trying to deal with the complex lives of its pupils.
Rachel Mason, the headteacher, after surviving last series’ merger and attempted take-over by the sexual predator Max Tyler, returns, having held on to her position.
And, as is to be expected, she doesn’t restrict her role to the confines of the school building. No, Rachel is constructed as an idealistic teacher who, rather than preoccupying herself with targets, performance and league tables, believes in nurturing the whole child. As, usual, it is one child in particular which demands all her attention in the first episode next week.
Assuming, as she did in the last series, the role of social worker, detective, and just about any other supportive role going, she abandons the otherwise heavy responsibility of running a school, by throwing herself into a rather unpleasant custody case.
It is hoped that Waterloo Road will bring more examples of the ways in which teachers, pupils, comprehensive schools, and contemporary education in general is constructed and represented. Education and Society will examine all this through a sociological lens.