Our Day Out and social deprivation.

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by Willy Russell


“Our Day Out” deals with the issue of social deprivation – the lack of opportunity among young people in socially deprived areas. Russell wants the audience to realise that not all young people get the same chances in life. The pupils in the Progress Class have little hope for the future. Their lack of basic literacy and numeracy skills means they have little chance of passing any exams in a world where the prospect of getting a job increasingly depends on qualifications. Added to this, their difficult home circumstances make it difficult for them to learn: they live in homes where there is little money or parental support for education. For some of the children, there is no male role model to teach them how to take their place in society. The man with whom they have the most contact is Mr. Briggs, someone whose attitudes and experience is so far removed from theirs, they cannot relate to him. For the pupils of the Progress Class, growing up in Liverpool in the 1970s, options are very limited and they are generally destined for long-term unemployment.


“Our Day Out” tells the story of a group of pupils from the Progress Class in a school in Liverpool, spending a day out, to visit Conway Castle in Wales. The trip has been organised by one of the teachers, Mrs. Kay, who is accompanied by Mr. Briggs (the Depute Head) and two younger teachers. The play reveals what happens during the course of the day and shows the different teaching styles of Mrs. Kay and Mr. Briggs. It also raises the issue of social deprivation by asking why children do not get the same chances in life.


Mrs. Kay is a liberal and open-minded teacher who is fond of her pupils. She is very tolerant of their failings and is aware of their difficult home circumstances. She is protective of them and her rules are derived from common sense rather than from any need for discipline. Unlike Mr. Briggs, she does not take on a traditional teacher’s role with an emphasis on discipline and high standards. She could also be seen as a bit cynical since she states that the education system does not know what to do with children like these. That is why she feels so strongly about the day out because she knows her Progress Class has little else to look forward to in life. If she cannot change the injustice in society that these children face, she can at least give them “a good day out.”

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Mrs. Kay has a lot of positive qualities – she seems to have limitless patience. She answers Carol’s repeated questions about the trip, with tolerance and tries not to lose her temper with Mr. Briggs when he interferes in her organisation of the trip. She is good at handling people – she gets Ronnie, the bus driver “on side” and she can diffuse arguments with Mr. Briggs with humour and reasoning.

Mrs. Kay is not afraid of physical contact with the pupils: she holds hands, puts her arm round them and cuddles them when they need it, just as ...

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