`Brookside' lesson was too much for teachers

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The Independent Online
David Blunkett has learned the hard way. Ask a soap opera for help promoting your education crusade and don't be surprised if the result is a little racier than the Open University.

In response to a request from the education and employment secretary, Channel 4's Brookside agreed to introduce a storyline involving teaching to its mix of drama and social comment. Perhaps unfortunately for Mr Blunkett, the character chosen to illustrate the theme is Jimmy Corkill, the soap's resident ne'er do well, who has bluffed his way on to a teacher training course using falsified qualifications.

The development so alarmed the Teacher Training Agency, responsible for maintaining the image of the profession, that it has written to Brookside producer Ric Mellis urging sensitivity in the treatment of "the teacher- training issue".

The letter, from TTA head of communications Dorian Jabri, appeals to the soap's producers as "responsible film-makers" to remember that "teaching is one of the most important professions in the country".