A new Channel 4 series following Educating Essex and Educating Yorkshire but with a new set of cockney accents, Educating the East End is a promising new insight into state education. The show follows the daily lives of teachers and students in this comprehensive school in Walthamstow, East London. The School was previously under-performing but has since been taken over by new head mistress, Ms Smith, who has given it a breath of fresh air.
The real star of the show, however, is Mr Bispham. A new learning-on-the-job English teacher who is painstakingly trying to teach Much Ado About Nothing to a set of rowdy Year 9s. Bispham poignantly captures the job description of a teacher as “half stand up, half motivational speaker”, while trying to impart his passion for English onto his students. His Shakespearean role-play turns into a crazy gaggle of screaming fourteen-year-olds getting into the roles of Beatrice and Benedict a bit too enthusiastically, the challenge of controlling the class sometimes gets a bit too much for the new teacher.
The show also follows the process of two students competing to get into an acclaimed drama school, while another student is dealing with a family tragedy alongside her education and so the programme highlights the importance of school as being a constant and a source of support for students as well as being a stepping stone further into their academic careers. At one point the teachers discuss the pupils’ piercings at a staff meeting, which really makes you curious about what your own teachers talked about when the students were not around.
Overall, the fly-on-the-wall series successfully documents the highs and lows of school life mixed with humour and, much like its predecessors, funny accents – “it’s bantaaaaar” shouts Tawny, a good-hearted, yet rowdy student. It’s worth a watch if you like watching teachers getting flustered.