The follow up to TwoFour’s Bafta-winning Educating Essex is to be aired on Channel 4 from September 5th.
Educating Yorkshire has been filmed at Thornhill Community Academy near Dewsbury. The 8-part series looks at every day life in the school, following new head teacher Jonny Mitchell as he seeks to improve standards and the school’s reputation.
“I’d walked into this school not long before the approach was made for schools to be involved in this and I thought the school had an awful lot to shout about – and that it was on an upward trajectory,” he explained.
“I thought we could present ourselves as a really positive role model for others in education and others outside. The other main reason was our location. Dewsbury has suffered quite a lot in the last ten or 15 years with some adverse press. I thought this was an opportunity for us to show the positive side of the town as well. And the third reason is – I think the kids are brilliant – I think they deserve to experience something a little bit different.
Mitchell added that he had watched the Educating Essex series “twice” and felt it was “funny, pretty honest, quite raw on occasions” and that he had spoken to their head teacher before agreeing to the filming.
“Vic [Passmores’ head teacher] had been up here and addressed our staff, to answer some of their questions. I thought it would be better getting something from the horse’s mouth, somebody who’s been through it, rather than listen to me and Twofour garble on about the benefits of the experience. I’ve stayed in constant contact with Vic throughout the process, he’s been very supportive and very, very helpful.”
He revealed there were some “niggling concerns” about the documentary, particularly when it came to some of the more vulnerable pupils and whether it may harm his career:
“You can think of all the positives that might come out of it, but you’ve always got to keep in the back of your head, “I might come out of this looking like a complete and utter wazzock.” But it was made very clear at the outset by the production company that they weren’t interested in selling us down the river for ratings.”
The series begins at 9pm on Thursday 5th September.