In the latest bonkers reality TV show ‘The Jump’, four z list celebrities have been hospitalised. Sadly my email suggesting replacements from the educational and political world has not been taken up; John Bercow and Michael Gove would be Reality TV ratings ‘gold’. My proposed new reality show titled ‘How much do you want it?’ has DfE and Ofsted inspector contestants ‘pitching’ their ideas, their latest must have educational reform. They would then have to complete an endurance test: an inspection of a panel of collaborative headteachers. The variable in the show would be the support of middle band year 9 students who would assist, if they could be ‘bovered’, by using their ‘must have’ accessory the mobile phone as a tool in their ratings of contestants who would use their concepts and jargon to be judged via the medium of ‘Instagram’, the current judgement tool of our teenage nation. Examples of complex tasks could be (you can see I have given this considerable thought): out run a hungry cheetah, the prize on completion would be an even longer literary exam of irrelevant 18th century texts; ‘The Dive’, whereby the contestants could high dive into the Right Wing’s Think Tank of daft educational mandates that so dictates current policy to win yet another ill-advised change of assessment policies. Finally, for those keen on ensuring British history is properly understood, let’s have the full re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo. This would meet the current agenda of a white European only war with no Asian/Afro Caribbean faces involved, thereby ensuring the correct ethos, Britishness and British tradition, shiny uniforms to the fore with the higher ranks being dominated by those who attended the right school. This is crucial preparation for a student’s 2016 life, whereby those who attend public school, 7% of the current population, will get the top jobs; currently 60% are privately educated. The remaining workforce are the foot soldiers, the ‘cannon fodder’, if I am allowed to mix my war metaphors, charging into the Crimean war ‘valley of death’ unsuitable courses, lower paid jobs.
The result of these farcical reality shows would at least provide laughter and relief to the nations of stressed teachers and depressed students. Current estimates are that at least 1 in 10 children has a diagnosable mental health condition at any one time, that is about 3 in every class and tragically suicide is now the biggest killer of young men in Britain. Schools have to examine why this is occurring. The current school system is turning out depressed, self-harming, non-communicative teenagers and I blame the current system of pass or fail examinations that potentially label children at 7, 11 and 16 reinforcing this academic label. Learning has to be for life not two weeks of June madness just because those who are in control underwent this poor system thirty years ago.
On judging a school’s success criteria, I would suggest greater prominence should be given to how the emotional well-being is addressed in the curriculum and how the school deals with irritable teenagers and supports beleaguered parents. Now there is an interesting television reality programme following vulnerable families’ journeys through the crumbling, ineffective myriad of support and mental health services. If we could simply not cut these invaluable services, that really would be enlightened thinking, the charge of the educational enlightenment brigade, as we boldly ride loyally onwards, not allowed the right of reply or to reason why! Nicky Morgan’s blue and white army of appraisal driven teachers and ‘lemming like’ students.