A line-up to make you laugh and cry

17th December 2004 at 00:00
It's that time of year when we preview a special TV schedule we'd like to see, if only the people in Scottish education could have a finger on the controls

5.30pm Blue Peter

The long-running programme offering self-help for 7- to 12-year-olds shows how you can practise national tests by downloading items once you have accessed the school's computer password.

Also, Simon goes to East Renfrewshire, where he speaks to some viewers who are the first to take advantage of the relaxation in age-and-stage arrangements for SQA examinations.

"I'm planning to sit my Higher English next year," squeaks Michael, 10, "so that Mr McVittie can put me in for Advanced Higher in the first year when I go to the big school."

6.00 Play Your Cards Right

Peter Peacock hosts an educational version of the famous game show that examines standards in schools. This week: The Inspectors versus The Directors

"Higher! Higher!" shout the education authorities' directors as they proclaim the rising standards in their schools.

The school inspectors agree. "Higher! Higher!" they confirm. "In fact," they enthuse, "the standards in Scottish schools are getting so high that 'good' and 'very good' are no longer good enough to describe them adequately."

Peter agrees to the introduction of some new rules mid-way through the game and offers an excellence standard as well.

"Higher! Higher!" everybody shouts.

6.30 I'm a Teacher, Get Me Out of Here

Six teachers enter a typical secondary school and face up to a range of awesome challenges as their movements are monitored through every hour of the day.

See Kimberley, a first year probationary English teacher, get landed with an S5 Intermediate 1 maths class. Gasp in horror as Brian is verbally abused by a first year girl. Hide your eyes as Carol-Ann discovers a lice infestation in the third years' cloakroom. And watch Michael as he contends with an aggressive parent. It's never easy, as he realises when Gary's dad invites him into the playground for a "squerr-go" because he retaliated when Gary spat at him.

So who will get your vote to leave teaching altogether? Whoever it is, they will thank you for the rest of their lives, as it means they can no longer challenge for the big prize at the end of the series: a fixed-term two-year contract in the same school.

7.00 Christmas Pantomime: Peter Pan

A seasonal pantomime live from an Edinburgh theatre featuring the Education Minister as the boy who always wants to believe in magic - and demonstrates it by making a trip to Promise Promise Land.

On the way, he meets the three health tsars - for food, physical activity and mental health - but doesn't have time to stop and talk because he knows that the quickest way to Promise Promise Land is (wait for it!) past the second tsar on the right and straight on till morning.

Once he arrives, he makes lots of promises, about discipline, about standards and about the Scottish Executive's respect for the teaching profession. Sadly, it all ends in tears, as the audience realises they were at the same pantomime last year.

And the year before that.

And even the year before that.

7.45 Feature Film: Carry On Inspecting

Everyone has a ball when the Carry On team comes into schools - and education authority offices - with kiss-me-quick hats and a sackful of clipcharts.

Join in the gaiety as Graham, the chief inspector, announces a more open form of inspection and watch the paperwork start to fly as everyone ensures they have their policies covered. Matron! The screens!

9.00 The Big Idea: An Appeal

An appeal programme featuring Jack McConnell, the First Minister.

He explains persuasively: "Let's be honest. We in the Executive need a big idea.

"I want to be proud of this great small nation and I want the country to be proud of this great small nation. And I want this great small nation to realise that it needs a great expensive parliament to debate and legislate upon the really important issues, like dog fouling.

"But I believe passionately - and in a visionary sense - that we need something bigger than dog fouling. So that's why I'm inviting you, the public, to come up with our next big idea. Because, frankly, we just can't think of any."

Please e-mail your suggestions to desperatejack@scottishgov.co.uk

9.05 A Day in the Life of a Care Helper

This week, the helper is Claire, a Primary 7 teacher, who goes into her associated secondary school to offer care and support for her former pupils and their teachers.

"It's amazing to realise that for all these years we've been under the mistaken impression that we knew how to teach first year children our specialist subjects," says Brian, a principal teacher of biology with 25 years of experience. "I hadn't realised how valuable it would be to have a BEd diploma woman coming in to help me structure my lessons more appropriately for the darlings."

Unfortunately, Brian becomes extremely abusive and has to be forcibly restrained as we witness a highly visible demonstration of his schizophrenic tendencies.

Claire explains that this is an everyday occurrence for her and we are left pondering on the wisdom of sending someone like her into such a volatile situation.

Edited for language and violence.

9.30 Strictly Come Inspecting

An all-star SEED cast joins Bruce Forsyth and three classroom teachers in this festive final of the competition, where the celebrities get trained up for the job by the professionals.

The highlight of the programme occurs when HM senior chief inspector Graham Donaldson is asked by a nursery teacher whether he really believes that HM Inspectorate of Education can grade and assess finger-painting and sand-pie construction and then offers him the chance to demonstrate his skills at both!

There's a special comeback guest appearance from legendary crooner Douglas Osler singing "My Way".

10.00 Greatest Embarrassing Scottish Parliament Moments

Celebrating some of the best - or is that worst? - moments of the past Executive year. There are plenty to choose from but what will be No 1? Will it be the unbelievable outcome of the Fraser Inquiry into the parliament costs ("It wisnae me, Surr") or will Cathy Jamieson take top slot over a crisis that almost "slopped her" out of office? Boom! Boom!

Watch out for some special curtain-raising footage featuring Lord Watson (allegedly) and a box of Swan Vestas.

10.20 Kim and Aggie Clean Up ... Learning and Teaching Scotland

Kim and Aggie are horrified at the mess they discover at LT Scotland. There are policy documents everywhere and simply hundreds of booklets and CD-Roms that no one has looked at for years. And nobody can hold enough meetings because the meeting rooms are permanently full - of people holding meetings.

Initially, the residents are very defensive, even angry, when criticisms are levelled by Kim and Aggie. Then new owner Big Bernard arrives and admits they have a point.

Will he be able to implement Kim and Aggie's clean-up strategy?

To be continued.

11.00 Peter Peacock's World Tour of New Zealand

The Education Minister follows in the footsteps of Billy Connolly, but with a smaller press entourage (Neil Munro, TESS editor) and significantly less television coverage.

It's still a wonderful half-hour of entertainment, although - as with Connolly - some viewers might grow weary of Peacock's language. He is seldom able to utter a sentence without the gratuitous use of words such as vision, standards or excellence peppered liberally throughout his conversations. This can become extremely tiresome after 10 minutes.

11.30 The Money Programme

A special feature on the ethical issues that surround entrepreneurial cash being offered to education authorities.

Jim Wallace poses the question: "When is it OK to accept money from well-heeled industrialists to use in our schools?"

Tom Hunter is confident of the answer: "When it's being offered by someone with the correct political credentials."

Irvine Laidlaw was scheduled to offer an alternative view, but declined involvement at a late stage in the production process.

12.00 Prisoner Cell Block Holyrood

Despite the squeaky sets and the poor performances, Prisoner Cell Block Holyrood still holds a peculiar fascination for many.

In this episode, chaos abounds as half the prison population says it shouldn't be there and makes the point by walking out of the back door in protest.

Episode sponsored by Reliance

12.30am The Motivators

An alarming documentary about one of the fastest growing groups of educators: the motivators. These shadowy people have little or no educational qualifications but have hit the education jackpot with their sexy mix of upmarket motivational messages - designed to persuade teachers that all their problems can be solved with evangelical enthusiasm - and catchphrases about harnessing the power of the brain and releasing the creative imagination of the individual.

Watch in dismay as directors of education authorise enormous sums of money to wheel pupils and teachers in front of the latest guru who flies into town - and out again with a large cheque and a clutch of press cuttings for the next authority willing to believe that snake oil actually works.

1.00 Late Call

Beware of False Prophets

Michael McGrath, of Faith Schools R Us, offers a late-night message that urges the Scottish Executive to stop wasting its money on fly-by-night chancers, such as the motivators, who are offering quick-fix solutions to our educational problems.

"Instead," he pleads, "why not return to the eternal verities of education? And forget the shared campus ideas while you're at it."

1.10 Close

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