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The Secret Teacher: Undercover businessman discovers the shocking reality of school cuts

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Aug 8, 2019.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    The first episode of the Channel 4 show where entrepreneurs are invited to go undercover in schools across the country to help students reach their potential reveals the harsh realities of teaching today and the financial challenges faced by staff working in state education:

    ‘The founder of a multi-million-pound marketing company who went undercover as a classroom support worker has revealed his shock at the funding pressures on schools.

    Paul Rowlett, who only passed one GCSE but went on to found EverythingBranded.co.uk, spent six weeks at Haileybury Turnford School in Herfordshire for Channel 4’s The Secret Teacher series, which starts this week.

    At one point, he joined a Year 11 lesson in which the head of English had to teach two classes together because of staff shortages.

    Mr Rowlett said: “A class full of 60 kids? I mean, how can a teacher do the job? It’s near impossible, surely.”’


    What are your views? Are you surprised by what Paul Rowlett discovered in the Hertfordshire state school?
  2. simonCOAL

    simonCOAL Occasional commenter

    Wealthy entrepreneur (fair play to him) who knows nothing about schools is surprised by what he finds.

    Blimey. Fancy that.

    I can’t comment any more because I don’t watch programmes where completely outsiders come in to ‘make a difference’ and then bggr off. I might be overreacting, but I’m fed up with this type of virtue signalling.

    Apologies if it turns out to be a good project that has a positive effect.
  3. applecrumblebumble

    applecrumblebumble Lead commenter

    It’s the government that needs to have their minds changed at the state of funding in schools but more importantly the workload, the conditions teachers have to work under as well as retention and recruitment.
    tenpast7 likes this.
  4. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    Why isn't he wearing appropriate teacher clothes if he is supposed to be a potential teacher. Shirt and tie and no jeans! Why is he telling kids he only has 1gcse?
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2019
  5. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    All the kids know Simon Cowell did badly at school. And that a teenager won more on Fortnite than most teachers ever make. And that ever would be doctors would rather go on Love Island.
    Quite honestly, I think a lot of teachers were happier teaching classes of (nearly) 60-one of mine had 4 children at one point-but with generally well-behaved though poorer children, parents who didn't come in screaming that you'd upset little Prince/ss, heads who were supportive, and no Ofsted! I wonder how many teachers who only have 30 in a class now would prefer this?
  6. MrLW1

    MrLW1 New commenter

    When he rang one of the parents he described himself as a 'support worker'. I'm therefore a bit confused why the programme is called 'The Secret Teacher'.
  7. xtra

    xtra New commenter

    I saw him on Good Morning Britain this morning and I wasn’t impressed. All I took from his short interview was that he thinks school curriculums are irrelevant for today’s children, he thinks they should be taught to think of new and creative ideas - but is under the impression that no subjects can achieve this, I also think he sent the wrong message to young people: I achieved all of this with only 1 GCSE, so you don’t really need to pay any attention at school.
  8. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    Like all this sort of 'undercover' SURPRISE (fake) stuff:- What was the credible cover story of why a new employee came to school for six weeks with a camera crew, interviewing staff, recording school life, pretending to have job related chats to pupils and doing home visits ? Only 4 people privy to the real reason he was there - methinks twas tommyrot.
    simonCOAL, colpee and steely1 like this.
  9. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    I really think we should stop the assumption that play was fair. The world of business is often rightly described as cutthroat. I do not think it is fair nor is it my experience that people with money are in any position to comment to the rest of society how to improve things in the education sector.

    Wealthy people being automatically assumed to be a good thing (for everyone) is part of the problem.

    It tends not to be the case.

    A documentary were we are presented with the thoughts and opinions of someone who clearly did succeed at school in the academic sense seems rather a waste. Clearly a passive attempt to follow cokehead Gove's mantra of "tired of experts" so lets have someone who is clearly not an expert.

    The most valueable thing to come out of this "documentary" is that it is blatently obvious that schools are short of money despite the governments claims to be spending more money on education.

    Instead of secret teacher documentaries we need forensic accountant following the money.
  10. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I don't usually watch programmes about schools because I've spent quite enough time in them already. I did watch this one and didn't find it engaging.
    The guy has had some ups and downs and is currently doing well. The editing left out a lot. I suspect that his support was limited to exhortations to stay on task.
    It was difficult to get much of a handle on the two kids and why they were chosen but I guess that's doen to privacy.
    No harm in reminding people of the poor state of school finance.
    simonCOAL likes this.
  11. steely1

    steely1 Occasional commenter

    I'm not going to complain about documentaries that raise awareness about the state that schools find themselves in owing to under-funding. Neither am I going to complain about people from the world of business who want to gain an insight into schools today and help out financially, as this guy did.

    But this documentary overall didn't sit well with me. The made-for-television "happy-ever-ending" in which he seemed to solve people's problems and revealed his true identity - really? In this era of DBS checks? Can you be in a school and lie about who you are for a fortnight to the wider school population? OK...

    What particularly grates with me is the outcome for the Year 11 pupil, Courtney: him giving her private tutors to help her throughout the rest of Year 11 to ensure she got her GCSE grades. Maybe that is exactly what Courtney needed and she was clearly overjoyed, so I suppose that is what matters most, but it just felt like two fingers up to her school teachers and anything the school may have been doing to help Courtney out up to that point. "The school isn't doing its job so I'll throw money at private tutors who will" seemed to be the message. Obviously it came with the best of intentions, and it was countered by his other financial gifts to the school and his help with Louis but I can't help feeling this.

    Interesting that that school has a link with a prestigious independent school. A documentary about the ways in which the state and independent sector can work together would have been a lot more interesting and revealing.
    Catgirl1964, simonCOAL and neddyfonk like this.
  12. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    A classic win,win,Win for a savvy marketing man.
    Two pupils get a chance to make good.
    The school gets some extra money and highlights their needs.
    The entrepreneur gets an extra half hour of 'free' advertising on TV for his business: a company I had never heard of till last night.
    simonCOAL and steely1 like this.
  13. simonCOAL

    simonCOAL Occasional commenter

    What assumption that he played fair?
    I was just suggesting that he’s done alright for himself and I didn’t want to come across as some jealous, self-important teacher.

    I completely agree with everything else you say, especially the ‘automatic assumption’ bit.
  14. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    Without approval from the governors, the head may have found himself on a very sticky wicket if parents/pupils/teachers are concerned about what is going on and get fobbed off with a misstruth (lie).
  15. Piscean1

    Piscean1 Senior commenter

    We were annoyed when we saw the advertising for this programme at the assumption that anybody can go in and be a teacher. I calmed down a bit when I realised he was in a support role.

    However, I don't think he did particularly well in that support role through what was shown. Chatting away to kids during lessons, etc. It's undermining the teacher!

    I have mixed feelings about the programme. I'm glad that the difficulties faced in schools are being highlighted and I think that's a good thing. The state of the building was embarrassing! But... On balance, it was a bit too much like that Undercover Boss programme for me with its happy ending and short term solutions.

    I also think it promoted a poor attitude to qualifications and school. Whilst it is true that a lot of successful entrepreneurs did not do well at school or gain many qualifications, it is also true that most people who did not do well at school or gain many qualifications are not successful entrepreneurs. For the vast majority of people, education and qualifications are a necessary part of preparing for adulthood.
    peter12171 and steely1 like this.
  16. hubcap

    hubcap New commenter

    I enjoyed it. It highlighted the struggles of schools and showed how they really were these days. For those who don't know, this was good to see.
    I think that was the real aim of the programme for me.
    Depends what you want to take from it.
    I bet there are a few schools thinking, where do I sign up- we could do with some cash!
  17. tenpast7

    tenpast7 Occasional commenter

    Cutting down the number of non-teaching SLT would help school budgets, this money could go towards the ones actually teaching.
  18. baitranger

    baitranger Established commenter

    It's to boast that his superior personality, hard work and intelligence ( although not intelligence as we know it Jim) trump mere qualifications every time. But only for very special amazing people like him. Be like me, he is saying, and you don't even need a school education. But aren't I clever to come in to see what a wretched state you are all in. I would have organised it all much better, even though for people like me, which is what you should aspire to be but almost certainly won't achieve, education is irrelevant. I studied at the School of Hard Knocks and the Uni of Life, so I know more than any teacher.
    Just saying.
    blazer, schoolsout4summer and steely1 like this.
  19. peter12171

    peter12171 Star commenter

    The biggest thing that should be taken from this, is the point that was made that the vast majority of people do need some qualifications later in life. I suspect what will be taken from it by too many people is that he managed to achieve what he did with a single GCSE.
    simonCOAL and Piscean1 like this.
  20. Crommo89

    Crommo89 New commenter

    The episode after featured a woman who was expelled but who went on to be successful in the beauty trade. Yet more suggestions that what you do at school don't matter.
    I suspect that a lot of the viewers of this programme are so dulled by watching the various other types of "reality" show, they don't even recognise it as actually being real.
    simonCOAL likes this.

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