Jamie's Dream School
About the Show
Jamie Oliver brings together some of Britain's most inspirational individuals to see if they can persuade 20 young people who've left school with little to show for the experience to give education a second chance
Series 1 Summary
Nearly half of British children leave education without the qualifications they need to succeed. Jamie Oliver was one of them: he left school at 16 with just two GCSEs. Now he wants to do something about it.
So he's bringing together some of Britain's most inspirational and expert individuals - including Professor Robert Winston, David Starkey, Alastair Campbell, Simon Callow, Jazzie B, Rolf Harris and Daley Thompson - to try to persuade 20 young people, with just a handful of qualifications between them, to give education a second chance.
David Starkey hopes to inspire the class with some seventh-century 'bling' from the Staffordshire Hoard. A traditionalist, he plans to take a firm hand with bad behaviour, but he gets off to a difficult start when he and a student trade insults.
Professor Robert Winston, a doctor, scientist and founding father of IVF, wants to try a hands-on approach, so he has the kids dissecting rats and a pig.
Meanwhile Rolf Harris, one of our best-loved artists, demonstrates how to paint like an impressionist and makes an instant impression on a student who loves using a spray can.
And round-the-world yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur takes four of the kids on a sailing expedition, leading them to start opening up about why they flunked.
But with the project just begun, Jamie already has a crisis on his hands: while David Starkey demands that the students' behaviour is addressed, head teacher John D'Abbro thinks it might be the distinguished historian who needs to be disciplined.
Jamie tries to address the issue of discipline head-on with the kids, which includes banning mobile phones in lessons.
New teacher Alastair Campbell thinks he can get 20 apathetic kids excited about politics by showing how they can change the world, but his lessons in how to argue spill outside the classroom.
Having got off to a rocky start with the kids, David Starkey has a showdown with Jamie, which leads to a fresh beginning, and turns for advice to one of his fellow teachers: the results impress the students, as well as the head teacher.
Simon Callow hopes that a contemporary twist on Romeo and Juliet and a trip to the theatre will bring the students round to Shakespeare, but conflict ensues.
Meanwhile, photographer Rankin hopes that personalising their portraits will help the students to reveal something about themselves.
And Jazzie B's tough but fair style seems to be winning over converts among the previously unengaged kids.
Jamie's Dream School approaches its midpoint, but is all the good work being undermined by persistent indiscipline in the classroom?
Two new teachers join the staff room. Maths and finance guru Alvin Hall came from an under-privileged background in the American South but has built a successful business and TV career, while environmentalist Jane Poynter has worked on the International Space Station.
Hall is shocked by the mayhem and lack of punctuality from the Dream School kids. But, having laid down the law, he starts to inspire the kids by using money as a metaphor to make scary fractions and algebra a little more relevant.
Nana Kwame, who left school with no GCSEs, turns out to be a whizz at maths, under the firm hand of his American tutor. And the magic of money maths also works for business-minded but similarly under-qualified Jourdelle, who impresses Alvin with his dedication and ability.
Dream School headmaster John D'Abbro requests the support of his two toughest-talking teachers - David Starkey and Alvin Hall - for an emergency assembly to address discipline at the school. But there are unexpected consequences when pupil Harlem launches a verbal attack on the headmaster and has to be sent home. When she returns to school with her mother to sort things out with Jamie, and watch footage of her outburst, it's a sobering moment for parent and child.
Jayne Poynter wants to move science out of the classroom. The scientist lived in a biosphere for two years, and wants four of the kids to live in their own biosphere for three days to understand how eco-systems work. But can they monitor oxygen levels, while ignoring encouragement from the other pupils to leave for a cigarette?
And David Starkey's roller-coaster history course continues. Deciding that a noisy classroom of 20 is no way to engage students with his high-flying ideas, he tries Cambridge University-style one-on-one tutorials with a selected group, including Dream School's ubiquitous new academic high-flyer, Danielle.
Jamie wants to see if a classical education - with subjects that were once at the centre of a British education, and taught by some of the most brilliant people - can reach today's disillusioned kids.
Top Cambridge Latin scholar Professor Mary Beard attempts to excite the kids with a subject few state school kids do any more, using David Beckham's tattoos as an unusual Latin primer, but is met by a wall of noise.
Former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion at first fares little better. But he has a radical plan that may help to engage the kids with his subject.
Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's former spin doctor (whose last politics class worked only too well and led to a fight) returns to give it another go.
And Jamie hopes that Grammy winner Jazzie B of Soul II Soul can reach the creativity that he thinks may be a key to engaging these underqualified kids.
The end of term is looming. Some of the kids have been inspired by the star teachers, but the pressure is on to reach the rest.
Robert Winston has a hands-on lesson he's sure will get the kids interested in science: he wants two of the boys to supply a sperm sample so he can teach the kids about fertility. And when he sets up Dream School's very own A&E, Chloe is so inspired that she joins an operating team at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington.
Meanwhile, human rights barrister Cherie Blair is cross-examined about her working-class origins, so she uses her rise to success to show to the class that anything is possible.
In Jamie's home economics course fish is on the menu and he's keeping an eye out for any budding chefs. Jenny is so enthusiastic that Jamie offers her work experience at one of his restaurants.
After a bumpy start, Simon Callow hopes that walking on to the stage of the Globe theatre will inspire the teenagers to reveal their previously hidden acting talent. He's gratified to find that Henry and Connor display real potential.
And Olympic Gold medallist Daley Thompson believes in chucking the kids in at the deep end, quite literally: he's teaching some of the class to dive before they can even swim...
As school term draws to a close the pressure is on to get the teenagers back into education and attention turns to the hardest-to-reach kids.
In a last-ditch effort, Jamie tries three very different approaches. First, formidable dinner lady Nora Sands, of School Dinners fame, is appalled by their lack of punctuality and messiness, and tells Jamie she thinks some are spoilt.
Next, explorer David Hempleman-Adams leads an expedition up Snowdon in Wales. The experience is a revelation to a bunch of mostly urban youngsters who often find climbing out of bed in the morning a challenge.
And Human Rights lawyer Cherie Blair brings a reformed killer into class, giving Angelique a chance to take charge. She brings order to a lively debate on the rights of prisoners, but can she keep her own moods under control?
Meanwhile Jamie and headmaster John challenge the students to put together portfolios as evidence of everything they've achieved at Dream School and some of the kids really get the bit between their teeth.
Jamie also calls the parents into school to encourage them to make the most of their kids' potential once Dream School finishes. But one of the girls immediately demonstrates the scale of the challenge by bunking off early.
Finally, Alastair Campbell reveals that he has an invitation for the students to meet the Prime Minister, David Cameron. But, unless some of their behaviour improves, they won't all be making the trip to Number Ten.
It's the last few days of the school term and Alastair Campbell has managed to get the Dream School kids invited to Downing Street to put their points about education to the Prime Minister, David Cameron. But should he take 16-year-old Angelique, who swore at him and stormed out of his class?
Andrew Motion, the former poet laureate, concludes his poetry course with a special event for the kids' friends and parents. Will his decision to persevere with the kids after his tumultuous early lessons be vindicated?
There's an end-of-term test from Professor Robert Winston and a sports day challenge against a local school, masterminded by Olympic gold medal-winner Daley Thompson.
At Downing Street, Alastair Campbell introduces the students to David Cameron, the man who could do most to help their generation. But will they use the opportunity to get their message across?
And as the young people leave Dream School, Jamie wants them to have proof of what they've achieved. So as well as producing portfolios of their work and achievements, he asks four of his top teachers - Rankin, Alastair Campbell, Jazzie B and David Starkey - to give all the kids a final assessment.
Jamie's Dream School synopsis
Jamie Oliver brings together some of Britain's most inspirational individuals to see if they can persuade 20 young people who've left school with little to show for the experience to give education a second chanceEpisode Guide >