Written by Alan Janes. Tx 20th January 1981
The themes of this episode fit neatly into the topic of staff/pupil consultation which has been bubbling away for a few episodes.
The pupils are appaled to be told they have to buy new sports kit from Hayes Green Sports. It’s quickly established that they aren’t the cheapest of shops and since they’re the only ones supplying the new kit it does seem obvious that they’re making a profit at the pupil’s expense. Susi quickly writes an article about this for the school magazine, only to be told shortly afterwards by Mrs McClusky that the magazine will have to close due to lack of funds.
Is there a connection? It could be, or possibly it’s because Mrs McClusky simply doesn’t like the thought of the pupils having any voice at all. In this respect, she’s a far cry from the open Mr Llewellyn as she seems very keen to stifle any debate – her word seems to be law.
But it only has the opposite effect and the usual suspects now have another couple of causes to fight for. Not only common rooms, but saving the school magazine and also investigating whether the new sports kit is being offered at a rip-off price.
Susi and the magazine’s editor Rosie (Nicola Wright) ask Mrs McClusky is they can continue the magazine if they could find a way to make it self financing. She can’t do anything but agree – so if her plan was to shut down the magazine in order to stifle dissent then she’s been circumvented. We don’t know for sure, since Mrs McClusky doesn’t have anybody here that she confides her thoughts and feelings to, so it’s up to the viewer to make their own mind up.
Although there is a scene where she asks Mr Sutcliffe if he wouldn’t mind attending the save the magazine meeting – and he rather brusquely refuses, telling Miss Mooney that he’s not prepared to do Mrs McClusky’s spying for her.
Alan and Susi rope in Mr Humphries to find out what the wholesale prices for the sports kit are. He learns that Hayes Green Sports are making over 100% profit – and he tells them that he’ll bring this up at the next PTA meeting. His obvious anger (and mutterings of rank exploitation) leave us in no doubt that more affordable sports kits will soon be available.
It’s not something that shows the Headmistress in a very good light, but it’s hard to credit that she would have colluded with Hayes Green Sports to artificially raise the price just so they could make a healthy profit. But the notion that she simply didn’t care about the cost of the kit doesn’t ring true either.