PREVIEW: Sixteen - The Class Of 2021, Channel 4
Throughout the past academic year, schools across the country have experienced possibly the most challenging period in living memory, juggling lockdowns, testing and exam chaos.
In Dudley, a Midlands town with a rich industrial heritage, the Link Academy was brave enough to let the cameras in to document this unprecedented time. The school's Year 11s were given their own cameras to record their final year with personal video diaries.
This new observational series documents their lives as they turn 16, and prepare to take their GCSEs and to make major decisions about their future, all in the midst of the global pandemic. The pupils speak of their ambitions and optimism for the future, mixed with their anxiety about the potential longer-term consequences of such a turbulent year, and the natural trials and tribulations of teenage life - relationships, parties and establishing their own identities under such extraordinary circumstances.
As head girl Aaminah says: 'in the future, people are going to write exam questions about us, to pinpoint what our lives were like.' In episode one, it's September 2020 and, after six months out of school during the first national lockdown, the students are back to start their final year at an unprecedented moment in British history.
The pressure is on for Callum, Kara, Sade, Aaminah, Jack and Grace, with mock exams just around the corner. Sade wants to be a psychologist but finds herself excluded from school for the day following an altercation in the canteen.
Callum dreams of playing football professionally but realises he might need a back-up plan. Kara, who aspires to have an artistic career, feels unwell and is sent home from school to isolate, at the risk of missing her exams. With the pandemic still looming large, if the school has more Covid cases, the whole of year 11 will be sent home.
Sixteen: The Class Of 2021 begins Thursday 26th August at 9pm on Channel 4.