Educating Audiences: Talking outside the box

Star rating: *****
London Festival of Education
Celebrating Education in London
Main Hall – Institute of Education
London WC1
Saturday 28th February 2015

Jenny Smith (Educating the East End) and Vic Goddard (Educating Essex) will be discussing their experiences of inviting the cameras in and of life beyond the lens- the challenges and complexities of running a community school and of helping young people to survive and thrive. Arifa Nasim will talk about her experience of going to school in the city; of the challenges facing her and the opportunities she has had to make her voice as she campaigns against FGM, Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence.

London Festival of Education

This was an interesting discussion featuring Vic Goddard, Principal of Passmore Academy – Essex; Jenny Smith, Head teacher of Frederick Bremer school, Walthamstow and Arifa Nasim, student and campaigner.

Chaired by Sarah Simons, Teacher and Writer, TES.

Vic Goddard and Jenny Smith and their schools were featured in the ‘Educating Essex and Educating the East End’ documentary series on Channel 4. Jenny Smith (Educating the East End) said she believes that, “community schools such as Frederick Bremer are vital and are not an anachronism, but the future.”

Sarah Simons, Arifa Nasim, Jenny Smith & Vic Goddard

Sarah Simons, Arifa Nasim, Jenny Smith & Vic Goddard

Both she and Vic, unsurprisingly spoke very positively of the benefits of having the TV cameras inside their schools. Whilst many Heads would balk at the thought of 61 cameras dotted all over their school, they both embraced the cameras. They felt it was important that the public got to see what life was like in a large secondary school.

Jenny watched the shows and used them as an opportunity for self reflection. She saw “just how brilliant my staff and children are” and as a result now spends more time talking to her pupils and staff. She said the opportunity for this programme came at just the right time as she was having a lot of self doubts about herself and her role, particularly being new into her first Headship position. Vic also got to see just how “brilliant my teachers are. If anything we need more shows like this.”

Discussing issues relating to the three girls from the Bethnal Green Academy who went missing last month, Goddard said, “Schools can’t be held responsible for society. We are a reflection of society.”

Sarah Simons, Jenny Smith, Arifa Nasim & Vic Goddard

Sarah Simons, Jenny Smith, Arifa Nasim & Vic Goddard

Jenny talked about her dismay at how her school was negatively portrayed in some sections of the press, which was in her and her pupil’s view, utterly at odds with the reality of how the school is. Both she and Vic found themselves with large mail bags as a result of the show, but that was fine as it showed the message was getting across about the reality of school life and what teachers have to deal with week in, week out all year round. She felt that all schools should have a Community Engagement Officer to ensure that school’s engage with the wider community they co-exist with.

I was especially impressed with Miss Arifa Nasim, the 17 year old A level student from Walthamstow. She delivered a hugely impressive speech. In it she praised her school, Walthamstow School for Girls for her education and allowing her to do what she does in terms of public speaking. It too is a community school.

Arifa regularly speaks on and campaigns against forced marriages, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and honour based violence. So in demand is she that she is going to take a gap year to capitalise on the speaking opportunities that have arisen.

lfe15 main theatre

This was a good discussion, with some lovely humour from the jovial Mr Goddard to keep things light-hearted at times. I must confess I did not watch any of these shows, but as a result of attending this discussion am glad they are still on C4’s website, so will try to catch up with some of the episodes.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Thank you for reading our review. We hope you enjoyed it and that if you did, will post a comment and/or share it with others who have the same interest in this topic and may also appreciate the chance to read it and comment.


  1. Educating the East End – 2014. Channel 4 Watch all 8 episodes here
  2. Educating Essex – 2011. Channel 4. Watch all 7 episodes here
  3. Link to all Tiemo’s LFE 2015 reviews – 28th February 2015
  4. London Festival of Education programme 2015 – LFE
  5. Education debates – Tiemo Talk of the Town reviews

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1 Response to Educating Audiences: Talking outside the box

  1. Tiemo Talk says:

    Have you watched the ‘Educating Essex, East End & Yorkshire’ shows and what did you think of them? Positive, useful shows or just poor television showing schools and pupils in a negative and damaging light?

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