Mr Drew's School for Boys,Channel 4 -TV review


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The Independent Culture

In Mr Drew's School for Boys (Channel 4), headteacher Stephen Drew set himself the task of taming a group of eight-to-12-year-old tearaways and last night's final episode was a chance to assess how far they'd come.

Under the improving influence of Mr Drew's patience, all of the little monsters had – at some point or other – revealed glimpses of the charming individuals they may yet become. The – no doubt heavily edited – graduation ceremony was another opportunity to make their mother's cry, and this time with tears of pride, not frustration. Mr Grist had them read poems written in their English class and all were lovely – particularly Clark's dragon-themed one, which gave insight into how his tantrums can take even him by surprise. Credit, too, to the boys for managing to sit still through Mr Drew's motivational speech. Excellent teacher he may be, compelling public speaker he is not.

As every teacher emphasised, four weeks isn't even nearly enough time to effect the kind of dramatic transformation that TV documentaries like to portray, and this episode was refreshingly realistic about the setbacks. A postscript followed up with the boys at home, where some, sadly, had already been excluded from school. Most, however, had made a lasting positive change to their attitude to schools and family. Though perhaps Dominic's Zen approach to education was taking it too far: "Now I like school, it's like a spa, it's really, really relaxing and fun" and formerly hyperactive Zane was so changed that he appeared sedated.

It was Zane's mum who best summed up the parents' collective mood of cautious optimism: "It's not gonna happen in four weeks, but it is gonna happen."