What ‘Educating Cardiff’ has taught us about teaching

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The latest instalment of the Channel 4’s hit reality TV show Educating Cardiff was an entertaining and heart-warming series that has introduced us to a range of exciting and loveable characters, but what have we learned?


Tenacious teaching

Well, for starters, it is obvious how hard these teachers are working and how much perseverance it takes to get through to misbehaving children and those who need their support. Maths Teacher Mr Hennessey is a fantastic example of the lengths teachers will go to ensure their toughest pupils reach their potential.

In episode 1 he called Willows High School’s lowest attender, Leah, every morning to get her to come in. Working to overcome daily problems like this is just one example of how Mr Hennessey, and the other teachers we met, proved their dedication to their students and their commitment to education.



Empowering the students

The approach taken with Leah is also a prime example of how giving students the chance to be independent and think for themselves is so important in instilling in them a mature, proactive work ethic that will help them for the rest of their lives. Mr Hennessey could have gone straight to Leah’s mother, as many other teachers would have done.

His decision to call Leah first gave her the chance to manage her mornings better, get motivated and get out of bed. Not involving her mother meant a potential shouting match was avoided and helped Leah feel like an adult so she was less likely to start the day in an angry, resentful way.

However, it is not only the more challenging students who are given the chance to act like an adult. Jack, Captain of Raglan House, was key to the strategy of helping Aaron adapt to the school and make friends. Using the students like this is a fantastic way to get through to those who are having issues and teach them the value of collaboration, empathy and good manners. This sort of strategy is certainly something that every teacher would have employed at some point; however getting trusted students more involved in helping their peers, and giving them positions of authority (like house captain or mentor), is something that teaches both students so much that is should be proposed more often.


Confidence is key

Whether you’re a teacher or student it seems that the secret to success is your own self confidence. Take English Teacher Mrs Bubbins, a real expert in building the self-esteem of students like Jessica, a hard-working girl who struggled with the social aspect of school. Mrs Bubbins’ support and advice, like ‘feigning confidence is the best way of gaining confidence’ went a long way to helping her find her feet and make friends.

Then there was Katie, a natural born performer who excelled in creative, artistic subjects but couldn’t control her rage when she was faced with more academic lessons. Having stormed out of her classes earlier in the episode and then returned to school after her grandma’s funeral, a severely shaken and upset Katie was faced with her mock music exam at the end of episode 3. It was down to Mr Hennessy and Head of Music Mr Ritter to give her the confidence and support she needed to give it her all and it was clear that this helped her both pass her exam and feel proud of herself for the first time in the episode.


If, after watching this inspiring show, you want to get involved in education then there are plenty of options out there for professionals of all ages. Get in touch with a specialist education recruitment company like EduStaff and begin discussing your career aspirations and routes into teaching.