Written by Phil Redmond. Tx 20th February 1981
The subject of options is discussed for the first time. There are some (such as Tucker) who complain that they’ll still have to do subjects they dislike, like English and Maths whilst others (Pamela, for instance) have everything mapped out as they’ve already planned their route to University. We also hear that some pupils consider all options to be a waste of time as they’ll be no jobs for them when they do leave school.
This will be a regular theme that occurs every few years, as options are discussed with each new class in turn, and many of the points that are raised here will occur again and again – although that doesn’t make them any less valid.
An interesting moment occurs when Trisha learns she’s not able to do technical drawing, mainly it’s classed as a boy’s subject. It hardly needs to be said that if you ever tell Trisha she can’t do something it only makes her more determined to do it anyway.
She has a meeting with Mrs McClusky who tells her that there’s only a limited number of spaces available for technical drawing and it’s already oversubscribed. She then informs Trisha it’s more likely that a woman will give up her career to bring up a family. It’s hard to imagine this is a view that Phil Redmond would have endorsed, but it probably would be an accurate picture of the education system at that time – as females could often be classed as subordinate to males.
Although Trisha’s not best pleased, it’s possible to understand Mrs McClusky’s point of view. The school only has limited resources and whatever way they choose to use them somebody is bound to lose out.
But another of Mrs McClusky’s decisions has drawn more general disfavour – her decision to expel Cathy, Gerry and Ruth. All three are shocked by this and it does seem a very harsh punishment for skipping class on one afternoon. It is interesting though that Mrs McClusky tells them that her decision could be overturned if they appeal to the school governors. I can’t think of many occasions in the future where Mrs McClusky finds herself answerable to others (except when she’s relegated to deputy head in a few years time).
But as it turns out, Cathy’s mother is able to persuade her that it would be better to cane the girl than expel her. It’s something that Mrs McClusky is reluctant to do, but Mr Keating is more in favour since he considers it will serve to discourage others from breaking the rules.
And poor Tucker’s hopes of a date with Pamela seem to be dashed forever when he overhears her telling Susi that she’d rather go out with Penny Lewis’ pony!