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Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Educating Yorkshire: Everything you need to know

This brand new eight-part documentary series explores life at a Yorkshire school. Located at the heart of a diverse northern community, and with a student population that is almost exactly half white-British and half British-Asian, Thornhill Academy near Dewsbury offers a fascinating insight into modern school life in the UK. It is a school with big ambitions, and life there is changing fast. This episode follows new Head Teacher Mr Mitchell on his mission to improve the school's fortunes. He's 18 months into his first ever headship and wants to revolutionise the school's ethos, results and reputation. But every day his vision is challenged by the trickiest of adversaries: teenagers. Alongside more typical problems such as habitual smokers and snowball fights, Mr Mitchell and his team have to deal with a more sensitive issue, as allegations of racist name calling are brought to his attention, and Mr Mitchell is torn between dealing with troublesome teens and fulfilling his plans for the school. Told with warmth and humour, Educating Yorkshire explores the universally recognisable themes of teenage life and those all-important pupil-teacher relationships that lie at the heart of everyone's formative years.
Meet The Staff

Jonny Mitchell, Headteacher

Jonny is new to the Headteacher game. He joined Thornhill just over a year ago. It is his first job as a Head and he came with a plan. A local lad, he is determined to continue to turn the school around, building on a growing academic success and crucially, to further improve their reputation in the local area. It is a high-pressure gig, demanding results and fast - but Jonny is determined not to let the burdens of the job affect how the staff and students see him. He is an approachable Head who is not afraid of some tough discipline. And he constantly surprises with unexpected talents and interests: he has an exhaustive and eclectic collection of 1980s and 1990s pop and easy listening; is fluent in French and can also finish the Times cryptic crossword in a matter of minutes.

Dale Barrowclough, Deputy Headteacher & ICT Teacher

Deputy Dale is known as one of the stricter teachers in the school. But despite dishing out tough love to Thornhill’s harder to reach students, the native Scot is described by staff as having ‘a chocolate heart’. Recruited by the previous Head in 2008 to help turn Thornhill’s fortunes around, Dale is a strong second-in-command for Mr Mitchell with ambitions to be a Headteacher himself sooner rather than later.

Michael Steer, Deputy Headteacher & Maths Teacher

Michael Steer is a maths whizz of staggering genius who turned his back on a career in banking to work in education. A brilliant teacher, when he is not manoeuvring the principles of trigonometry into teenage brains he is keeping his own mind limber by mentally generating individual timetables for hundreds of children. Michael has senior responsibilities for perhaps the most important job in the school - raising attainment in both Maths and English at GCSE. A tireless workaholic, Headteacher Mr Mitchell and staff can worry he takes on too much.

Matthew Burton, Assistant Headteacher and English Teacher


Mr Burton is one of the school’s most popular teachers. Famed for having ‘a sense of style’, at 30, he is one of the new breed of young Assistant Heads in the school. His vibrant style of teaching has helped the Academy turn around their English GCSE results over the past five years. He is very happy to walk on tables, play loud music or even act the fool - anything to engage his students in his beloved subject. His role as assistant head means he is just as at home disciplining tie-less students as he is deciphering the work of Wilfred Owen.

Rachel Crowther, Pastoral Year Leader / Head of Year 11

As a Pastoral Head, Mrs Crowther is responsible for dealing with anything and everything that might distract the Year 11’s from their GCSE exams. From dishing out detentions to guiding students through the grieving process, no one child ever presents her with the same challenge. She is an ex-policewoman with a hard exterior, but those who know her best are only too aware of her softer core.


Steve Moses, Pastoral Year Leader / Head of Year 9

Steve Moses has only been in the job 18 months. He hails from Manchester where he worked as a careers advisor. He now finds himself as the man dealing with the ‘most difficult year in the school’, Year 9. Heading up a group of hormonal teenagers is proving to be an eye-opening transition.

Lynn Marsden, Pastoral Year Leader /Head of Year 7

Local lady Mrs Marsden is Head of Year 7 and is the motherly figure at the heart of Thornhill. Every 11-year-old new starter at the school comes under her care and no one ever forgets her. Nor does she them. Her emotions are never far from the surface – whether it is dealing with a child who has forgotten their PE kit or a much more serious issue, she puts her heart and soul into everything she does, something witnessed weekly at the joint student / teacher choir.

Educating Yorkshire starts Thursday 5th September at 9.00pm on Channel 4 

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