The title of this post is not exciting, but hopefully it explains what follows.
It is almost the end of the year, and a time to review all things educational, while ‘looking forward’ to changes in educational policy and provision that will start to unravel over the next few months. I’ll start with Waterloo Road. Like it or not, it is a popular representation of contemporary schooling, granted it is not accurate, but it does represent a reality, and as such, we can predict that Waterloo Road, will have to start responding to the Schools White Paper very soon.
In Waterloo Road, the televisual representation of Britain’s comprehensive schools, Karen Fisher took over as the new Head.
Her deputy, Christopher Mead wakes up at the start of the first episode, the morning after having sexual intercourse with one of his pupils, Jess Fisher. A criminal record and ruined career awaited, and, while the narrative invited us to be sympathetic towards him, maybe we should question his judgement. He obviously had not learned his lesson from the previous series about inappropriate relationships with pupils (remember Vicki MacDonald). Granted, when he embarked on this particular relationship (relationship as in a one night encounter) he didn’t know she was a pupil, but she was clearly of an age that she could be one of his pupils. He might have avoided the stress if he had got to know his new girlfriend a little better before sleeping with her. With a big question mark over his sexual politics, Christopher Mead’s career was on the line when the truth was finally revealed to the Head, and mother of Jess Fisher, the sixth former in question, but, as a good teacher he remains in post, his contribution as a positive male role model assured for the next series.
The troubled family life of the new Head began to unravel from the very first episode. In the second episode we witnessed her son Harry experiencing eating distress. Eventually this was revealed to his family, via the taunts of a fellow pupil, Finn Sharkey. His mother could have directed him to BEAT’s Rough Guide for Young Men though, as there was no reference to the eating disorder charity, it was unlikely she did so, and, predictably, by the end of the series he appeared to free from bulimia.
Waterloo Road returns in the Spring, just in time for it to be feeling the pinch of efficiency savings and educational reform. It will have a much reduced curriculum, concentrating on the essential academic subjects with pupils recalling the essential dates in history, well from a British perspective at least. The teachers will have greater powers to discipline pupils. In any case discipline will improve at Waterloo Road, following a crackdown on the flexible interpretation of its uniform. By the next series, pupils will be dressed in regulation blazers and ties, and the school will be freed from Local Education Authority control. Standards will rise, pupils on free school meals will be accepted for Oxbridge, and the future of Waterloo Road, as the preferred school of choice amongst Rochdale’s most aspirational parents will be assured. It will be a triumph of a neo-liberal education ideology.