In Back to School, RTÉ puts education in the spotlight in a season of documentaries and features.
This observational documentary follows Minister for Education & Skills, Ruairí Quinn, and his senior advisers and civil servants as they carry out the day-to-day business of running one or Ireland’s largest government departments. Filmed over six months, with unprecedented access, we witness the highs and lows of a Minister under pressure as he attempts to bring in reforms in education while at the same time having to make controversial budget cut-backs.
We join the Minister on the run up to the budget and what followed turned out to be one of the most challenging times in his long political career. From the fallout of a broken election promise and a budget u-turn to allegations of improper expenses claims, all at a time when he is busy reforming the education system.
Minister Quinn allowed complete access to him and his department colleagues and advisers. Some of the characters we meet along the way are his hand picked advisers; John Walshe, Neil Ward, Ian O’Mara and Deirdre Grant. We also meet the top civil servants in the department; Brigid McManus, the outgoing secretary general, Seán Ó Foghlú, the incoming secretary general and many other key decision makers.
We sit in on internal meetings in the run up to the budget, observe a revolt from within his own party, travel to the teacher conferences and spend time with all the players at senior level within the department.
A fascinating insight into the world of a government department.
Directed and Filmed by Adrian McCarthy
Produced by Martha O’Neill
Edited By Brenda Morrissey
A Wildfire Films Production for RTÉ.