Politicians debate it, parents worry about it, the newspapers criticise it - but what is our education system really like? We decided to find out by filming a snapshot of life inside the schools and colleges of the UK. On January 15th 2004 a dozen film crews from the BBC in Bristol went out across the length and breadth of the country to capture a day in the life of education.
Each crew followed a single person over their normal day. The people we filmed included a trainee teacher, a head, a pupil, a bus driver, a cook, a truancy officer, an advanced skills teacher, a classroom assistant - and not forgetting the Minister of State for Education, David Miliband.
We filmed all over the UK - from Belfast to Middlesbrough and from inner city London to a tiny village in the far north of Scotland.
The day we chose was when the secondary school league tables in England were announced - ranking the schools by their GCSE performance. The stories that we discovered on the day dramatically highlight the issues facing our schools today - behaviour, standards, attendance and how to find new ways of engaging our children.
We thought it was going to be just an ordinary day. But it turned out that every day is extraordinary.
First broadcast: Wednesday 12 May 2004 on BBC ONE