King Street Junior

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BBC Radio 7, 27 March 2011
King Street Junior was a comedy series broadcast on Radio 4 from March 1985 to November 1998. Written by Jim Eldridge, himself a teacher, it followed the lives of a group of teachers and students in a multiracial working-class area.
In this episode "Pressures," from the third series (1988), at least two topics that dominated the educational agenda at that time came under the microscope. The first was the National Curriculum, introduced by the Conservative government of the time, which aimed to standardize education, as well as introduce a series of tests for students at different age-levels. Geoff Long (Paul Copley) vigorously opposed it, on the grounds that the students would be forced to learn great slabs of Tennyson with little idea of why they were doing so. However his was a lone voice: although his colleagues tacitly agreed with him, they understood that no amount of protest would change the government's mind. The head teacher Harry Beeston (James Grout) offered sympathy for Long's view but little else.
The second issue arose from the sports teacher Philip Sims' (Karl Howman's) decision to include a girl in the school cricket team. Although the girl concerned (Victoria Keedy) was the best player in the side, helping King Stree Junior to win its first match of the season, practically everyone (including Sims' colleagues) was appalled by the decision. The head teacher of St. Joseph's, a rival school (Joe Dunlop) threatened to complain to County Hall, while Miss Rudd (Vivienne Martin), the music teacher at King Street, protested that such things were "just not done." Sims adopted a pragmatic view of the situation; it did not matter whether boys or girls played together, so long as the team actually won. However his optimism proved misplaced: a directive came down from County Hall in London, banning mixed participation in team games such as cricket, soccer or rugby. 
John Fawcett-Wilson's production of King Street Junior was a true period-piece: County Hall no longer holds educational sway over local authorities, while the National Curriculum has been part of the school fabric for over two decades now. Most cricket clubs hold regular training sessions for boys and girls, and there are several mixed Kwik Cricket Leagues running up and down the country. The English Cricket Board encourages mixed participation - so long as appropriate changing facilities are available for girls as well as boys - but disapproves of boys playing in girls' leagues, unless explicit provision has been granted in the rules of those leagues.