College's starring TV role

A FORMER paratrooper has helped pupils getting a taste of education 1950s-style to learn military discipline for the Channel 4 series That'll Teach Em.

By John Howard

A FORMER paratrooper has helped pupils getting a taste of education 1950s-style to learn military discipline for the Channel 4 series That'll Teach Em.

Greg Allen, who served with the Army for 24 years, and now works as a manager at St Joseph's College in Ipswich, taught the youngsters how to march and stand to attention for the programme which goes out at 9pm tonight.

The college was also the location for almost all the filming after staff met the producer and props team, who decided they would like to film there during the summer last year.


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Mr Allen, 45, who has served in Kosovo and Ireland, said: “I was drill sergeant to the boys. The producer wanted me to get them to march, which some boys had done before at their colleges, but the vast majority had not.

“It's not something we normally do at St Joseph's, and I tried to make it as fun as possible. The end game was to have them parade in front of their parents. There were a couple of bad eggs, but you'll see what happens to them.”

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Thirty bright children were transported back in time to a 1950s grammar school and divided into single sex classes to see whether teaching the sexes separately improves grades.

Once at the boarding school, the teenagers were not allowed any contact with their parents except a weekly letter and pupils had to adjust to the rigours of new life, including a short back and sides haircut, period clothes, fritters and cabbage meals, and a strict environment.

Bev Hudson, spokeswoman for the school, said: “Needless to say it was extremely hard work housing over 60 crew and technicians.

“We also had to protect the 'pupils' from the real world of 2005, as they are completely submerged in the 1950s with only post given out once a week and their dorms consisting of iron beds, scratchy blankets, one set of clothes and a tin of boot polish.

“The props team were quite brilliant and transformed a number of rooms to look very authentic 1950s.”

St Joseph's was recommended to the film company by Simon Warr, a French and Latin teacher at the Royal Hospital School in Holbrook.

Mr Warr starred in an earlier series and is the headmaster in the latest run of programmes.

He said: “I can be quite stern, a lot of it is an act, but the reviewers said I was pretty scary. It was tough for the children, but also for the staff, who also had no television and eat the same food as pupils.”

Mr Warr, whose own school had other commitments at the time filming needed to be undertaken, said he thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the new series of five programmes.

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