TV Review: Educating Cardiff
Educating Cardiff is set in Willows High School in Tremorfa, south-east Cardiff, a school on a sharp uphill trajectory after being one of the worst schools in Wales. This upturn has coincided with the appointment of Joy Ballard as head teacher, who the show calls "uncompromising" but across the hour and during the panel afterwards seems anything but.
As well as a general introduction to a school filled with characters, pranks and larks, the two big stories in this episode are those of contrasting year 11 students Leah, who's often late or missing entirely, and Jessica, a star pupil who seems to have problems relating to people of her own age.
The ways Willows seeks to help these pupils is enlightening, heart-warming and most importantly effective. Rather than taking the disciplinarian route and potentially losing them, they use innovative methods instead.
Mr Hennessy, the strict maths teacher, "Victor Meldrew" and breakout star of the show does everything in his power to keep Leah from dropping out, including ringing in the morning to encourage her to attend. Jessica on the other hand is put in charge of the new school newspaper, The Aviator, which helps build her social skills.
As someone who is long out of school and went to a small one at that, seeing how education has adapted and evolved - the 'uniform station' mirror, teachers using mobiles to communicate with pupils, the prevalence of 35p energy drinks - is fascinating.
I was also pleased to learn about the measures that the production company (Twofour) and Channel 4 do to ensure that pupils and staff are prepared and safeguarded before, during and long after transmission, especially on social media.
Educating Cardiff is a funny yet moving peek behind the school gates and starts on Channel 4 on Tuesday 25th August 2015.
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