Friday, October 5, 2007

THE WHISTLEBLOWERS

UK / ITV / Thursday 11 October @ 9.00pm
The new thriller series continues.

Ben and Alisha are drawn into a school negligence case when Sean Knowles, a teacher from a chaotic comprehensive school called William Allen’s, comes to them for help. A teenage boy, Jamie Hillcott, has killed himself and the teacher blames the unchecked bullying and chronic mismanagement at William Allen’s.

It seems Jamie’s bereft mother Linda is too shell-shocked to take up the fight. Jamie had only been at William Allen’s for a short while, having been expelled from his previous school, the recently established City Academy, St Justin’s. Linda tells them Jamie had been suffering from medically diagnosed depression. She begged St Justin’s to help him but instead they turned him out, insisting he passed all psychological testing. He was merely ‘a delinquent’. A friend of Jamie’s, Anthony Gardiner, is keen to help expose the truth. Painfully aware that he is under the steely glare of head-teacher Helen Millard, Anthony’s mother Pam – a teacher at St Justin’s – is anxious that he does not jeopardise her position, despite the fact that she is an old friend of Linda’s.

Realising that they have been asked to look into the wrong school, Ben goes undercover as an applicant for a teaching job at St Justin’s. He is amazed when he is offered a job, effective immediately, on the strength of a single mock lesson. Alisha, meanwhile, is on the trail of the promised £2 million investment into the school from its sponsor, David Durrell. It appears he’s much more interested in a possible knighthood and pushing his creationist ideals onto the next generation than offering a safe environment for children to learn. In fact, as Ben’s theft of a school budget proves, more is spent on PR for the school than the pupils themselves.

As Ben embarks on his new job at St Justin’s, Alisha has a bombshell of her own to reveal – she is pregnant. Ben’s emotions hover between delighted and apprehensive, and so he throws himself into his undercover work at the school. He quickly discovers a place of performance related pay schemes and extreme creationist teachings. Alisha and Kenny, meanwhile, discover that Sean Knowles was paid by Durrell’s PR firm to publicly discredit William Allen’s. Durrell has set his sights on taking over the failing comprehensive, the final LEA controlled school in the area.

When Ben finally stumbles across a system of covert selection which expels ‘expensive’ children - children with special needs or low performers - the race is on to get the evidence Linda requires to get justice for Jamie. Aided and empowered by Ben and Alisha’s support, Linda works tirelessly to set up a parents’ action group, campaigning to ensure that what happened to her child won’t happen to anyone else’s.

The three of them are fighting a losing battle, until Pam’s conscience gets the better of her. She agrees to provide Linda, Ben and Alisha with the evidence they finally need to expose the reason children like Jamie Hillcott are being driven to desperation by a school which favours impressive league tables over child welfare…