Can reality TV ever be reality?

A few years ago, the school I was working was asked to consider being part of the “Educating [Essex, London, Manchester etc]” series: we weren’t particularly flattered as it appeared every school in the area was being asked. We did spend time at the senior leadership team meeting discussing the merits/demerits, and I have to say that I was largely against the idea. For the first time in a while I watched about 30 minutes of the programme last night, and it entirely reaffirmed my belief that we made the right decision not to partake.

The reality of a programme like that, indeed any reality TV show, is that it all depends on the edit; a true proportionate edit of schools would be incredibly dull – lots of children working to improve themselves to give their future lives the best possible start. That’s not to say any school couldn’t be edited to show the “characters”;we all have them in our schools. It’s just the bulk of the reality is very different to that represented by a few hours over the year. If we think that there are approximately 1000 people on site every day (the children and the staff, before we even think about the parental interactions or other agencies), then over a 39 week year averaging about approximately 30 hours per week, that means there are approximately 1,140, 000 recordable hours in a school the size of Marshalls Park, so how can any edit really cut that to accurately portray the life of a school in a 6 hour series?

Last Friday, just after the blog was written we were invaded by 3 gorgeous French bull dog puppies that had escaped from a neighbour’s garden and were avoiding cars in the car park. Eventually after knocking on several doors we managed to return our make shift puppy crèche in to the school office; would the film crew have been there at that moment to capture the hilarity of cute puppies? Perhaps the film crew would have been packing up to accompany the trip to Auschwitz? But then again, they would have missed the 30-30 draw for the Year 8 girls’ rugby, or the field work trips to Walton for Year 8 students (plus a few Year 11 catching up their case studies). Actually, all of those mean they would have missed the drama rehearsals, or the parent tours for Year 6 students, or the governor visit to the SEND department, the Year 11 revision sessions, approximately 1000 lessons taught, the countless emails or phone calls, or …So much goes into a school day, let alone a school year, that I don’t believe 6 hours of television can capture it. I know others will disagree with me, but I can’t see myself changing my mind ever on this one.

Suffice to say, I switched over and watched a documentary about travelling through Russia; whilst I am sure equally edited, I didn’t find myself thinking about the accuracy of the portrayal of the English education system. I won’t be rushing back to the educating series, but then again I watch very few reality shows since, in my humble opinion, they can never really capture a true reality .

Have a good weekend.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email