The film “In Loco Parentis” screening Tuesday 25th April at 18:00 at the Théâtre de Grand-Champ in Gland and on Wednesday 26th at 21:15 at the Salle Communale in Nyon, has already received much praise; the Los Angeles Times called it “completely charming”, Non-Fics described it as “A film sure to warm even the most jaded heart” and Variety said it was “delicately executed in every department”.
Living in Nyon agrees with all of the above and would add that it is a “marvellous, must see” film. See trailer below.
This documentary follows a year in the lives of John and Amanda Leyden, two inspirational teachers who work at Headfort, a primary-age boarding school in Ireland. The school has seen better days, the fabric of the building is in need of tender loving care and yet the children receive plenty of care and attention by the school and its teachers. John and Amanda have been in the school for 46 years, they have taught all kinds of pupils over the years in their own inimitable style and nothing seems to faze them.
As the current headmaster (who was taught by John) shows a potential parent around the school we see a sudden mad dash on the part of Amanda to tidy up her desk and to get on with the lesson in hand (she had been opening a birthday present and was letting the children play with the bubble wrap packaging). As the door opens and the new parent and headmaster appear she is seen to be calmly reading Enid Blyton to the children. The headmaster smiles and asks ” The Famous Five?” “Yes” she says, “The Famous Five always does it”.
With acres of grounds to run around in, trees to swing off and climb up, old sheds to hide behind, and bunk beds in the dorms, the life of the children in the school is perfect Famous Five territory. And yet, the school is not stuck in a 1950’s British timewarp. Pupils come from Ireland, France, Spain, Russia and other countries, discuss same-sex marriage and morality in an ethics class, and rehearse Rihanna songs.
There are poignant moments when we see one of the pupils sobbing through homesickness “Just 10 sleeps to go until you see your mother” consoles a member of staff who looks after the children’s welfare. When one of the children asks Amanda “Is your house listed?” it’s not only amusing that a boy so young should know about listed properties, the question itself speaks volumes about his own background. Amanda looks slightly wistful, “no dear we don’t own our house”. She and John have spent most of their lives in the employ of the school and it appears that property-owning was not on their personal timetable.
Some of the scenes in the film would raise eyebrows in parents concerned about health and safety issues – wires trail across school floors and children use electric drills on their own, yet despite this, the children survive and thrive. On the film’s own website it says the school has produced a slew of achievers, captains of industry, famous artists and academics. The school is obviously doing something right.