Last week I watched the last episode of Educating Yorkshire on Channel Four. The series is described by Channel 4
Filmed at Thornhill Community Academy near Dewsbury, Educating Yorkshire captures every detail of life in the school, from playground hijinks and inspirational lessons to life-changing events. It follows the work of headteacher Jonny Mitchell to better the chances for all his students and build on successive years of improving exam results.
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, the school offers a fascinating insight into modern school life in the UK. 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.
If you haven’t yet watched it can I encourage you to do so. If you don’t have time to watch it all go directly to episode 8.
Musharaf has a severe stammer, and anxiety about leaving Thornhill seems to have made it worse. As Musharaf prepares for his GCSE English oral exam, Mr Burton is prepared to try any tactic, no matter how unusual, to help improve his fluency.
Mr Burton is a teacher who doesn’t give up on his students, he is clearly connected to them, he wants to give them the best opportunity and he isn’t afraid to give things a go if it will improve the outcomes of his pupils.
In this episode we see one moment captured beautifully by camera. We see a teacher with a bright idea, he takes a risk and it clearly pays off! I must admit I was in tears. What a moment! Spontaneous learning at its best!
I doubt Mr Burton had a written plan for this lesson nor do I believe he wrote learning intentions on the board before he started. He simply thought on his feet and the result was amazing.
Musharaf maybe the star of this episode but was Mr Burton who wove the magic.
For those of you who haven’t read Sir John Jones book ‘The Magic-Weaving Business’, it describes how powerful an impact teachers have on young people and how learning can make a profound difference in their lives. Watching this series of Educating Yorkshire I was reminded about his work.
A few years ago I heard him speak at the Lisburn Principals Winter Conference. It was inspirational stuff. He challenged us to remember that during the humdrum of term that we shouldn’t forget the impact we have on the young people we are trusted to teach. I doubt Musharaf will ever forget that moment. Sir John Jones calls the teaching profession to remember the need for personalisation. Making the connection beyond the text book or the iPad! Knowing your pupils and believing in them are what counts.
Stephen Nolan had a phone in after the Educating Yorkshire show was over. He provided an opportunity where members of the public could call in to name check inspirational teachers who made a positive impact on them.
It made me very proud to be teacher listening to many stories some just like Musharaf’s.
Now there may not be cameras in your school but I know there are many teachers out there like Mr Burton who are weaving the magic.
As another holiday draws to a close look forward to your next magic weaving moment.
You can read @MatthewCBurton reflections about the programmehere