Thornhill Community Academy pupils and staff set to be stars of Educating Yorkshire TV show

Students at a Kirklees school are about to get rather more than their 15 minutes of fame

Thornhill Academy head Jonny Mitchell (third from left) and his staff ready for the TV series
Thornhill Academy head Jonny Mitchell (third from left) and his staff ready for the TV series

Students at a Kirklees school are about to get rather more than their 15 minutes of fame.

A warts-and-all look at Thornhill Community Academy is set to hit our TV screens early next month.

And Educating Yorkshire is expected to be as big a hit as its predecessor, Educating Essex.

It was filmed over seven months at the Thornhill school and captures every detail of life in the school, from playground high jinks and inspirational lessons to life-changing events.

Channel 4, who have commissioned the series, says 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.

The Thornhill Academy is at the heart of a community which features a student population that is almost exactly half white-British and half British-Asian.

It is the second series to be produced by Twofour Broadcast who made the critically acclaimed Educating Essex – attracting 2.4m viewers.

More than 60 cameras were placed in the school earlier this year to capture every detail of life – from the corridors to the canteen, the headteacher’s office to the playground.

Head Mr Mitchell, who was born and raised in Dewsbury and appointed in 2011, said: “I am incredibly proud of Thornhill’s journey so far and the staff and students that have contributed to our successes.

“This is an opportunity to show how a normal school nurtures youngsters, from a variety of backgrounds, providing them with opportunities to flourish academically and socially.

“I am confident Thornhill will represent the very best of Yorkshire and that the series will give a much-needed boost to the town and wider community .”

Twofour’s head of documentaries and series executive producer David Clews, said: “Thornhill Community Academy was chosen because of its fantastic staff and students and we feel extremely privileged to have access to film them.

“The school provides highly-rated education to a diverse and vibrant community in Yorkshire – it has had successive years of improving exam results which are continuing under headteacher Jonny Mitchell’s stewardship and its newly-awarded academy status will provide an insight into how these schools operate.”

The first episode, which goes out on Thursday, September 5 at 9pm, follows Mr Mitchell on his mission to improve the school’s fortunes.

He wants to revolutionise the school’s ethos, results and reputation but every day his vision is challenged by the trickiest of adversaries: teenagers.

There are the habitual smokers and snowball fights, but also allegations of racist name calling and bullying.

Mr Mitchell said: “The niggling concerns I had were, ‘How will some of our more vulnerable students come across?’ – because we don’t want to put them in any sort of situation where their status is jeopardised or they’re going to be laughed at or ridiculed or mocked.

“The misgivings I had on a personal level were ‘What might this do to my career?’ You can think of all the positives that might come out of it, but you’ve always got to keep in the back of your head, ‘I might come out of this looking like a complete and utter wazzock.’

“But it was made very clear at the outset by the production company that they weren’t interested in selling us down the river for ratings”.

 

 
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