Education System 'Drums out Brilliance' of Children

Published date: 
20 Mar 2009

Friday 20 March 2009

Channel 4’s celebrated teacher, Phil Beadle, who is known for his ground-breaking teaching methods in The Unteachables and Can’t Read, Can’t Write television programmes, has said in a Children’s Rights Alliance podcast, launched today, that the education system adopted in Ireland (which is very similar to that in the UK) ‘drums out the brilliance of children’.  In the ten-minute podcast, Phil Beadle, who has been described in the UK as ‘the country’s most inspirational teacher’ (The Times) and ‘an emerging national hero’ (The Observer), slams the education system that has ‘dumped and ghettoised’ working-class children and believes that the quality of education is determined by the status that the child is born with.  

The Alliance’s recent Report Card, published in January 2009, reflects this by awarding the Irish Government an overall ‘D’ grade for the implementation of its own commitments in Education; thereby highlighting a barely acceptable performance, with limited positive impact on children’s lives.  In response to the findings of Report Card 2009, Jillian van Turnhout, Chief Executive of the Alliance, said:

“Rightly or wrongly, children from wealthier families are cushioned from the impact of poor Government performance through purchasing private services.  But what is to become of other children?  What about those children whose lives are dictated by waiting lists and poor quality public services?  Seemingly, in Ireland, accident of birth is still more likely to determine the potential success of a child’s life.  Is that what we want?”.

The podcast is a conversation between Jillian van Turnhout and Phil Beadle ahead of his attendance at the Alliance’s first symposium on 2 April 2009 in Dublin Castle.  The symposium, entitled, ‘Children’s Rights in Ireland: Are we there yet? Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet?’  aims to bring about a shared vision to spotlight the steps needed to build an Ireland that is one of the best places in the world to be a child.  A key part of that vision is that a child’s right to education is made real by supporting them to reach their full potential.


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Notes to Editor:

  1. Phil Beadle has spent a decade working in a seriously disadvantaged school in London’s east end, producing miraculous results from his students.  He was awarded London Secondary School Teacher of the Year in 2004, going on to win the national title.  Phil has a column with The Guardian on youth, education and government policy.  He appeared in the Channel 4 series The Unteachables, where he succeeded in re-engaging a group of challenging children with education. He also won an award for on-screen talent from the Royal Society of Television.  He wrote and presented a piece attacking private schooling on Channel 4 and has appeared on Newsnight, The Politics Show, The Heaven & Earth Show, Richard & Judy and This Morning.  His book Could Do Better is the fastest selling educational advice book of all time, and, most recently, he completed a major documentary series for Channel 4 on adult literacy.  Phil is currently a serving teacher.  
  2. The Children’s Rights Podcast Series is available at or iTunes.
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