Educating Greater Manchester is the latest in Channel 4’s ‘Educating’ series, and I’ve seen occasional episodes of previous ones, but since I live in Greater Manchester and like seeing our great city on the telly, I thought I’d take a look. Oddly, however, no previews of this first episode were available.
This series is set at Harrop Fold in Salford, once dubbed the worst school in the UK, the first episode showing an increasing number of students having English as a second language because of increasing ethnic diversity, including Rani, a young lad who came to the UK from Syria, and while being as shy as most young children, he can educate all his fellow pupils about everything he’s been through out there. He was also introduced to an older boy, Murad, also from Syria, who could help him out, rather like an older brother.
With Murad coming from that country and having to be fingerprinted when he came to the UK, problems came early when Polish girl Esterea referred to this practice as “like terrorists?”, her words getting miscontrued, leading her to being questioned by a teacher about it.
Another altercation saw one white lad calling a Muslim lad “Osama”. As with an earlier situation, when Rani was picked on (in fact, this was a Rani-heavy episode), I have to say that it’s good that the school actually takes action against such things, bringing both sides together to discuss it face-to-face, and stamping out the issue before it can escalate.
However, When it came to the headmaster laying down the law to Rani et al after they drew cocks and balls all over a dirty van, the programme took away any power he tried to exert in a meeting with them, since when the kids watch this, they’ll see him before the meeting stating, “It really is amusing, but I’m meant to be angry so I need to compose myself”.
The episode also brought into play the Manchester Arena bombing in May, at the Ariana Grande concert, as some of the pupils attended the gig.
For a full episode, I would’ve preferred more variety, since this centered around one group of children, and mostly along religion and racism lines, when they could’ve split it between two narratives. The opening credits showed a selection of possibilities offered within the series – next week’s including Mia, 15 – seven months pregnant and just a few months away from her GCSE exams, but the first episode ended up quite predictable as it went on.
Educating Greater Manchester continues next Thursday on Channel 4 at 9pm, and then later on All4. Episodes of previous ‘Educating’ series used to be available on Amazon Prime, but for now, you can pre-order the book to accompany this series, Educating Drew: The real story of Harrop Fold School, by headmaster Drew Povey, and is released on September 29th.
Directors/Producers: Chris Kershaw and Mark Price
Series Directors/Producers: Claire Cameron and Warren Smith
Producer: Lyndsay Rowan
Composer: Chris White
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.