This week, Ruby and Steph took a group of pupils to a farm. The catchment area of Waterloo Road apparently having been extended somewhat, beyond the deprived post industrial landscape of Rochdale’s least popular secondary school.
There was little evidence of a risk assessment, either by the school, or, indeed, the farm. It is doubtful that the trip location, the Moran’s farm, would have qualified for a ‘quality badge‘ indicating that it was providing a good learning experience outside of the classroom.
During the trip, one set of pupils disappeared to drink alcohol and, in their drunken frolics, a barrel of chemicals spilt onto Josh, necessitating a trip to the local Accident and Emergency department. Meanwhile, a couple of girls engaged in some animal liberation, and let some piglets out of their pen, smuggling one, unnoticed onto the bus and back to the school, naming it ‘Albert’. Albert made a bid for freedom and ran round the school corridors, only to be returned to the farmer. Sambuca Kelly, the animal liberator, had, clearly not grasped the harsh reality of farming and the food cycle, despite studying food technology. However, she was relieved to be informed that ‘Albert’, who, it turned out, was a girl, would be saved from slaughter (for the time being at least) and would be used for breeding, so that other little piglets could, instead be sent to the abattoir.
The rather dilapidated state of the farm was due to Mr Moran struggling to keep things in order following the death of his father. Ruby immediately assumed the role of grief counsellor, and drew on a rather problematic model of bereavement, suggesting that Mr Moran finish grieving and that he ‘let go’, as you do.
Chaos was also unfolding back at the school. Kim and Chris had, in a week, set up a mentoring scheme. This had been prompted by the previous week’s custody battle. As Head of Pastoral Care, Kim appears to be making things up as she goes along. Had she never heard of the National Peer Mentoring Programme? Did Kim and Chris really have time to attend one of their training courses, and manage to train the peer mentors, in the space of a week? Given the evidence, the disastrous, yet entertaining consequences of their efforts, it would seem not.
So, as usual, an interesting representation of a comprehensive school, and one which adheres to some popular stereotypes, though, thankfully, Waterloo Road is not a representation of reality.