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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 April 2006, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
'Miss Beckles' show sparks anger
Yolande Beckles
Yolande Beckles has said teachers must be pushed to aim higher
Teachers have criticised the BBC documentary Don't Mess with Miss Beckles as "highly exploitative".

In the series "educational motivator" Yolande Beckles tries to help teenage boys in London fulfil their potential.

But the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said some scenes showing rows between teenager Luke and his mother should never have been broadcast.

The BBC strongly refuted accusations that the programme was exploitative and called the criticism "misinformed".

The ATL said it had "huge concerns" that Luke had left his family home.

Its general secretary, Mary Bousted, said: "The thing that really worried me about that programme was the boy who was living on the streets.

Ms Bousted is commenting without knowing the full facts and we consider her comments to be misinformed
BBC statement

"The programme makers knew he was bunking-up with his friends, they knew he was in danger and what did they do about it? It's highly exploitative."

Speaking ahead of ATL's annual conference in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, Ms Bousted said when teachers become aware a child has been thrown out of home were effectively homeless they informed police and social services.

"At one point she (Ms Beckles) said 'we have got a child on the streets and I am very concerned about that'. Well, what did you do then?

"As soon as I knew that the child was homeless, locked out of the family home, I would make sure the authorities knew," she said. "I was astounded by that."

Ms Bousted said an emotional argument between Luke and his mother should never have been screened.

'Exploitative' programme

She said the mother, Carolyn Tristram, who was particularly upset, revealed details of her own difficult family past.

"That was exploitative because that was obviously somebody who was not coping.

"I think that should not have been filmed," she said.

But, responding to the criticism, the BBC said: "Ms Bousted is commenting without knowing the full facts and we consider her comments to be misinformed.

"The moment that Yolande Beckles knew that Luke had been thrown out by his mother, she ensured that Carolyn had informed social services."

'Destructive' documentary

It went on: "Luke is 16 years old and so they could not get involved, but they did offer him a place in a hostel which he turned down.

"He was not on the streets and Carolyn was constantly in touch with the families that he was staying with. There was no question that he was in any danger."

The BBC also stressed that the series had been edited in a fair and truthful way, and all the contributors involved signed consent forms and watched the films before transmission.

Last week, Ms Tristram told The Observer newspaper that the documentary experience had been "very destructive".

By the end of the programme Luke was shown sleeping at friends' homes. He later moved to live with his uncle.

Ms Beckles founded a motivational firm called Global Graduates which has 3,000 pupils going through a 10-year programme.

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