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OU/BBC series takes unflinching look at public services

Rapper Darren McGarvey sits at a school desk. He is resting his head in his hand, covering part of his face. His t-shirt reads: people make mistakes.

A new three-part series co-produced by The Open University (OU) and BBC will follow writer and rapper Darren McGarvey as he takes an unflinching look at the UK’s public services. Darren McGarvey: The State We’re In follows Darren as he explores the state of the UK’s classrooms, the heroic efforts of an NHS workforce battling rising patient numbers, and the UK’s justice system through the eyes of the people who live and work in it.

Academic experts from the OU’s Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS) provided their expertise to two of the three episodes, with the Faculty of Business and Law supporting the third.

Dr Sara MacKian, Senior Lecturer in Health and Wellbeing in the Faculty of WELS, was the academic consultant for the health focused episode. In the episode, Darren examines the crises facing the NHS, looking at how the situation occurred and how the NHS might pull itself out, by meeting front line staff across the UK. He also visits private healthcare providers, alongside those who are working to change what healthcare looks like in the future.

Sara said: 
“This series gives viewers an opportunity to look behind the headlines and political point-scoring to understand why the NHS is at breaking point, and why it is in all our interests to protect it.”

Sarah Stewart, Director of the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) Programme in the Faculty of WELS, was the academic consultant for the education episode. The episode looks at how the attainment gap between the wealthiest and the poorest children can be narrowed, by visiting private and state schools within the UK, education settings overseas, and meets with innovators in the UK working to give every child an equal start.

Sarah said:
“Darren doesn’t shy away from the complexity of issues such as social class or poverty and he does this in a down-to-earth, compassionate and thoughtful way. I think this series will ask people to think deeply and honestly about what we want from education and for our children and how we too can become change-makers in our society.”

“As an academic consultant it was great to share my research expertise and see it come to life in a way which is both creative and truthful in its portrayal of the day-to-day lives of children and their communities.”

Explore more on OU Connect

Visit the Broadcast and Partnerships site OU Connect for an exclusive interview with Darren McGarvey and an interactive ‘board game’ exploring how factors beyond our control, such as how where we are born can influence our social, health and financial opportunities.

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