Robin Buss

Pick of the week

BBC Education returns to BBC2 for a new academic year on Monday, September 10, with alliterative characters, including Addem the Adder, Barnaby Bear and Colin the Clam. They feature in three new programmes for primary schools: Numbertime (11.05-11.20am) puts maths into real-life context; Words and Pictures Plus (11.20-11.35am) supports spelling work in Year 2; and Barnaby Bear (11.35-11.50am) visits Dublin to help children understand maps and plans.

Tuesday, September 11, sees a new programme in the PSHE series Focus (11.50-12.10am), looking at how society treats minorities, starting with the disabled. The week ends with repeats of two PSHE programmes for secondary schools on sex education and alcohol misuse, on September 12 (BBC2, 2-4am) and 13 (BBC2, 3-4am).

Pick of the term

Channel 4 Schools returns on Monday, September 17, with new programmes from pre-school onwards, supported by books, videos, CD-Roms and the 4Learning website ( For pre-school children we have Sarah and the Whammi (Wednesdays from September 19, 11.40-11.55am), a mix of real life and fantasy. When we get to real school, we'll have dozens of questions. What If? (Thursdays from September 20, 9.50-10am) answers some of the less likely ones ("What if we didn't count in 10s?" for example). The series is linked to C4's free online service for seven to 11-year-olds, GridClub.

Maths Mansion (Wednesdays from September 19, 9.50-10am) is a new series for nine to 11-year-olds in which contestants have to answer maths questions to escape from a Gothic mansion; That's My Life (Wednesdays from September 19, 11.55am-12noon) consists of five new programmes on disability for primary PSHE; and First Edition (Tuesdays from September 18, 11.25-11.40am), presented by Jon Snow, invites older children to discuss social, environmental and political topics from the news.

Eight of the recently made films of Samuel Beckett's plays are being screened in Samuel Beckett on Film, starting on Friday, September 28 (9.30-11am). Henry V follows later (from October 10).

In science, Scientific Eye for SATs (Tuesdays from September 18, 4-5.30am) has revision material on everything from cells to the solar system. Science Bank 2 (Tuesdays from September 25, 4-5.30am) covers a range of topics in chemistry, physics and biology.

Best of the rest

Going Native C4 Tuesday, September 11, 10-11.05pm This three-part series, which ends this week, has been an interesting example of "reality television": a British family, the Nestors, volunteered to live for 10 weeks as members of the Shongwe family in their home in Swaziland.

The experiment was a profound challenge to attitudes - but no one was more challenged than the two children who had to exchange their London comprehensive for a school where classes may have as many as 45 pupils and beating, for the slightest offence or mistake, is the norm.

Robin Buss

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Robin Buss

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