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Tonight is an unusual night...

....because I think I'm going to sit down and watch television, something I've managed not to do for weeks now. I'm going to be watching this:


If you've never heard of it, Summerhill is a school in Sussex which is famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) for not making its pupils attend lessons. In fact they don't make the kids do anything. This would have been fine but for the fact that their exam results were rather above the national averages. One can imagine the horror with which this was greeted by the bureaucracy. The result of all this was that the schools inspectorate tried to have them closed down, a battle from which the school has only recently emerged the victor.

Worth a look, I would have thought. 


Well, that was rather fun. It came across to me as one of the most subversive pieces of television I've seen in a long time. (This may not be saying much, I suppose, given how little time I spend in front of the goggle-box, but you get my drift). I might even go so far as to call it libertarian in outlook.

I wonder if the Beeb knew what they were getting when they bought it? 


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Reader Comments (6)

Thank you very, very much. I've set my TV, and have stolen your entire posting.
Jan 21, 2008 at 6:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrian Micklethwait
You're welcome. It was good wasn't it?
Jan 21, 2008 at 7:04 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
It was fascinating, and I will definitely try to record and watch all the rest of it.

Pure melodrama, with cardboard cut-out goodies and baddies, but very well done.

I have always like Ron Cook's acting (he's the Demon King of the Ofsted Inspectors - yar boo hiss), ever since I saw him in the early seventies (!!) in the big theatre in Newcastle, in a thing about George Stevenson.

Thanks again for alerting me to this.
Jan 22, 2008 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrian Micklethwait
Yes, the adults were slightly OTT, but I can live with that.
Jan 22, 2008 at 6:46 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
Also, encouragingly, the director Jon East is also the head of CBBC Drama. He is quoted in the Telegraph

as saying that he is "proud to be putting on screen a different vision from the educational model depicted in every school series since the morning bell first sounded for Grange Hill 30 years ago.

"An awful lot of drama is set in schools - and yet each series only reinforces the dominant paradigm," he says.

"What we're trying to say in this drama is that there could just be another way of doing things."

Next, a proper picture of home education for a change?

Jan 28, 2008 at 7:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterCarlotta
It would be fascinating to get a balanced view of home-ed in similar fashion. There's obviously no shortage of critiques bouncing around the place, and there was "We don't go to school" which, from this outsider's point of view, was rather rose-tinted. I'd like something which was sympathetic but examined HE, warts and all.

Perhaps someone should write to Jon East?
Jan 29, 2008 at 11:40 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

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