Back to School: Primary Pressures

RTÉ One, Sunday 2nd September, 9.30pm, 1 x 52"


In Back to School, RTÉ puts education in the spotlight in a season of documentaries and features.

Primary Pressures is a one hour documentary filmed over six months inside a large Wexford Primary School. For the first time on Irish television our cameras follow children, their families and teachers as they deal with the highs and lows of everyday school life during tough times.

Scoil Mhuire is a busy, vibrant primary school on the outskirts of Wexford town. Although the school buildings are impressive the school is officially disadvantaged – it is a DEIS school. Many of its pupils come from communities where both economic and educational disadvantage are the norm. The school also caters for children with special needs and has a purpose built unit for autistic children.

Principal Pat Goff and Deputy Principal Brigid Scully are proud of their school, which has been recognised for big improvements in children's literacy and numeracy in recent years. Just what Minister Ruairi Quinn wants in his new blueprint for education. However there is constant pressure in the school to make it all work and budget 2012 brings bad news.

It is a big year for Megan, Kelley, Emily and Francesco in 6th class with Confirmation, the end of year school play and the reality of leaving Scoil Mhuire after eight years together.

Mum Emma has four children in the school and this year has a Communion and a Confirmation to celebrate and pay for. Emma also has a big decision to make about her own future.

In the school's autism unit both families and staff are unhappy with their Special Needs Assistant (SNA) allocation. Mum Jane is concerned about her autistic son Daniel's future. He now shares an SNA with another child and Jane feels Daniel's progress is suffering as a result. We film with the family as they anxiously await a review, the results of which will determine what help Daniel will get for next year.

Susan Somers teaches 4th class. She has children of all abilities in her class but is also very aware how issues at home can impact on how well a child does at school. Susan Somers loves drama and produces the annual end of year school play with the 6th classes. It's a huge event in the school calendar and Susan ropes in everyone to help.

Primary Pressures takes us inside the corridors and classrooms of an Irish primary school to see first hand how the primary education system is -and isn't working.

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