I once jokingly declared, at a Deanery Synod (what I was doing at a Deanery Synod is beyond me, but Father knows best), that I watched the television series Waterloo Road to
find out what goes on in our nation’s schools. I thought this was a rather amusing thing to say as we tucked in to stale biscuits and what I think was coffee. I was quickly put in my place as I was informed that not one but two of those gathered in the cold church hall had been ‘technical advisors’ to the show. Indeed, I was reassured, it was all real …well, almost all of it.
Of course, television could very well be the only way in which we find out how other people live their lives. I base much of what I think about how people lived at the beginning of the twentieth century on episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs. I often wonder what life would have been like as Mrs Hodges (although my walnut cake isn’t a patch on hers) or perhaps Lady Marjorie (dashing about to Conservative ladies lunches).
But for now back to the modern world. The ups and downs of the staff of Waterloo Road are enough to entertain alone, never mind the teenage angst of most of the pupils. In recent episodes the school has grappled with the idea of single sex education, or as it is rather sensationally described by the teachers ‘segregation’. For some time it has been suggested that boys and girls educated separately do better and are enabled to develop and learn more fully. The producers of Waterloo Road seem bent on proving that this is not the case and so the boys are given mentors and media tasks and the girls are encouraged to produce a fashion show, neither group with any success. All that being said I do find Waterloo Road entertaining, it bears little resemblance to my own time at school and I suspect little to many people’s schooling. I suspect sadly that it does bear some resemblance to the truth today…and if so we should all be concerned.
Petra Robinson ND