BBC Bitesize lessons: Everything you need to know

A quick guide to the BBC's new Bitesize online and TV teaching service, including how to access it and topics covered

Dan Worth

Coronavirus school closures: The BBC will start broadcasting educational TV content from 11 January

The BBC has this week launched its online and TV-based teaching service under the BBC Bitesize brand.

The content available may prove useful for teachers to complement existing lesson plans or study areas, or as guides for parents to engage children in learning on topics covering all areas of the curriculum. 

The below provides a guide to the service and what is involved.

BBC Bitesize: When is it on?

The BBC Bitesize Daily lessons will run on the BBC Red Button TV service from 9am to 11am every weekday and then be available to watch on-demand via BBC iPlayer.

The Bitesize website also contains further content and activity suggestions to build on what is covered in each lesson.

 

How long are the lessons?

Each lesson is 20 minutes long, so there will be six lessons per day.

What content is covered?

The content covers core subjects of maths, science and English but also gives due prominence to other key curriculum areas such as history, geography, music and art.

Lessons are divided into learning groups, as in schools, across ages 5 to 15, covering Year 1 (P2 in Scotland) to Year 11 (S4). Each section has a dedicated webpage that outlines the content that is coming up in the week ahead. For example, in week one: 

  • Year 1 lessons include Using Descriptive Words, How to be a Good Friend and Representing Numbers Within 50.
  • Year 7 lessons list include Weather and Climate, Writing a Short Speech, and How to Write Algebraic Notation
  • Year 10 lessons include learning about Weimar Germany, chemical bonding and analysing language.

Lessons will change each week, and what is coming up for the week can be seen each Monday.

The BBC has also produced additional content for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, including content for Welsh speakers.

How was the content put together?

More than 200 teachers have been involved in helping to plan and deliver the lessons based on the teaching curricula used to deliver core subjects.

A BBC spokesperson said: "Teachers are at the core of every aspect of Bitesize Daily. They are what is powering the initiative and have been with us from day one.

"Every aspect of our curriculum online and on broadcast is planned by a teacher, every book we select is okayed by a teacher, every online guide we produce is written or reviewed by a teacher, and every script is checked by teachers to ensure it is curriculum-relevant and couched in a way that kids will understand."

Who is delivering the lessons?

Lessons are hosted by established TV presenters, but the BBC has also called on its long list of contacts to get input from a wide array of people willing to act as "teachers" for a mix of content. These include:

  • Professor Brian Cox covering topics including the solar system, force and gravity.
  • Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero teaching Spanish.
  • Former MP Ed Balls, who will deliver a key stage 3 maths class.
  • EastEnders actor Danny Dyer, who will discuss Henry VIII for key stage 1 pupils.
  • Sir David Attenborough, who will engage pupils in lessons about oceans, mapping the world and why animals look the way they do.
  • And Jodie Whittaker – aka Dr Who – who will also be hosting a lesson, on an as-yet-unspecified topic.

However, teachers who have done the bulk of the work in terms of putting the content together will also play a key role, with 50 teachers likely to take part in the weeks ahead in the studio to discuss core learning topics with the presenters, pupils and parents. 

There is also a plan for 90 "Teacher Talks" that will begin from Monday 27 April. These will be short clips explaining key concepts to learn for each of the age groups, from adverbs to algebra. 

There are plans for some teacher-led Instagram Live sessions for older learners, providing learning tips, Q&As and a classroom-style experience.

How long will it run for?

The BBC says it has content to run for 14 weeks, effectively covering the rest of the school year until the summer.  

Is everything on screen?

No, the BBC is also launching two podcasts that will be updated every day. These are aimed at parents of primary and secondary pupils.

Each episode will last around 10 minutes long and will be a guide to help families find content on the BBC that supports their children's education and wellbeing.

The podcasts – BBC Bitesize Primary Planner and BBC Bitesize Secondary Planner – will be available on the BBC Sounds app and through other major streaming platforms.

Is there anything else teachers should be aware of?

Yes. BBC Four is hosting numerous shows linked to GCSE and A-level curricula.

For example, for students studying science there are programmes entitled Pain, Pus and Poison: Chemistry: A Volatile History; Blood & Guts: A History Of Surgery; and Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity.

Historical shows include Mary Beard’s Meet The Romans, Michael Wood’s Story Of England, Andrew Marr’s History Of Modern Britain, and Tunes For Tyrants.

Furthermore, the channel will also show screen adaptations of dramas on the current exam syllabus including King Lear, starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson; Tess of the d’Urbervilles, starring Gemma Arterton; Great Expectations starring Gillian Anderson and Ray Winstone; and JB Priestley’s An Inspector Calls.

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Dan Worth

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