We watched the first episode of Jamie Oliver’s Dream School on Channel 4 last night. (I am guessing it will stream on Ch 4 Youttube at some point). The premise is that for 2 months Jamie Oliver will run a small school of 20 disaffected teenagers who have all left school without the GCSEs of life. Various famous people are then called in to teach them.
The mix of students is so obviously “planned” that it’s irritating from the start; There’s the mix of black and white, boys and girls and then the usual token gay person and token posh-kid-dun-badly. It seems that more than one had been excluded from mainstream education and/or had been through a Pupil referral Unit. I haven’t seen any children there who lost out at school because of bullying or identified learning problems – the group are just the “naughty” kids. I can only assume this is because that’s better “viewing”.
Even though all 2o youngsters have failed and been failed at school and that at least two had been in a PRU it was deemed right that all 20 should be in classes together. I couldn’t work out why.
The best lesson was the sailing one where only about 5 went on the boat so it was manageable and there was a definite goal and reason for being there. Brilliant stuff.
Rolf Harris as the art teacher did much better than I was expecting. I got the impression he was in this because he genuinely thought he could offer the children something worth while – and he got some very good results. One or two of those children have talent in that area. I hope he gets the chance to bring more out of them. He was sad at the end of the lesson because he – rightly- pointed out there were two many to get around to.
I think an opportunity to offer something to other children who haven’t been “naughty” has been missed here because of the weird insistence of a massive group. Having said that; when I worked with youngsters like this one thing struck me; those who had a probation officer did better than those who just had a social worker or no one. Crime does pay it seems.
The rest of the program was pretty awful. The famous actor Simon Callow did ok, but I did wonder why he chose such a huge, broad and difficult to read subject as Shakespeare for a starter lesson.
Lord Winston was arrogant, childish and crass. After dissecting a pig sending lots of them off to throw up the poor kids were told THEY were the ones being disrespectful! No – he was. He plainly wanted the session to be “The Shocking Winston Show!” and it was. There was nothing there for the students. Even the rat dissection was mishandled. It came across as a powerful man wanting to stamp on those he saw as useless sub-kids. Sad.
Starkey was no better. I can’t say if he was worse. His blatant rudeness to a boy he deemed “Fat” was truly naff. I did smile though when the “fat-bad” kid talked so maturely and sensibly with his mother about how he had behaved and how he intended to speak properly with Starkey. Of course he didn’t get the chance (yet) because the man refused to do the next lesson. A “nobody important” came to teach jousting which got very little air time – but looked like a good lesson.
I would like to believe that Jamie Oliver’s motives are genuine. However, the school system was designed to fail as many children as possible- read Gatto, Mason, Holt, etc.- and has done so marvellously. Why does Mr. Oliver want to get the youngsters to repeat the broken system but with clever-celebrities?