They really saved the best ‘til last, didn’t they?
The snow had finally melted at Thornhill, and GCSEs were looming on the horizon. Mr Burton, the popular deputy head and English teacher, was quite clearly my perfect man (save for the fact that he’s married; we’ll gloss over that though) – he thinks that punctuation is “sexy”, comes out with glorious quotes such as “we’ve come to party – it’s semicolon time!”, and demands that students thank him when he holds doors open for them (and rightly so – one of my major pet hates!) He had his work cut out for him with getting his Year 11 English Class to the all-important C grade standard, in particular Hannah, who spent a lot of her time hiding behind lockers instead of actually attending lessons, and Musharaf, who had a stammer.
Musharaf was especially worried. Bullied so badly in his first year because of his stammer that he’d considered leaving Thornhill, he’d been persuaded to stay and had flourished – but a combination of his imminent speaking and listening exam plus having his prefect duties removed following a Facebook “incident” had knocked his confidence to the extent that he’d been rendered virtually mute. As he succinctly put it, “how am I going to do a speaking exam when I can’t even speak?!”
Mr Burton refused to give up though. During a one-to-one session, when Musharaf was struggling to even get one word out of a poem he’d been asked to recite, Mr Burton asked if he’d try a technique that he’d shamelessly stolen off The King’s Speech – listening to music while speaking aloud. The result was truly astonishing; Mr Burton’s face was an absolute picture, and another teacher brought in to witness the event was brought to tears. A marvellous breakthrough and Hollywood moment that Colin Firth himself would be proud of. “At last I have a voice – [DRAMATIC MUSIC],” typed Musharaf.
All that remained was for him to complete the actual exam, footage of which we weren’t privy to, but which must have gone well as Musharaf gained his precious C grade – this caused scenes of jubilation in the Crilly household the likes of which have never been seen before. The lump in my throat I was wrestling with when he told Mr Burton that he really appreciated his support and encouragement gave way to heaving, racking sobs when Musharaf addressed his whole year to thank them too. As Mr Burton said, he should be very proud of himself – so very brave in the face of adversity. It was a perfect and uplifting end to the series.
I would absolutely love Michael Gove to sit in on one of his classes – according to my sister’s boyfriend, who’s a teacher himself, Mr Burton would fulfil hardly any of the criteria on the current Ofsted checklist. However, I would defy any inspector to observe him and dare tell him that his teaching style was not right. He is clearly born to teach and engaged with his class like no other teacher we witnessed on the programme. Plus, his bromance with Mr Steer, and his skinny suits, were an absolute joy to behold. SWOON.
Educating Merseyside, anyone?