It's that time of year again, when The TESS presents a sneak preview of a night of festive TV, dedicated to Scottish teachers ...
5.30pm Deal or No Deal
Fiona Hyslop takes over as hostess for this special edition of the exciting TV gameshow that is played by generating random numbers. Winningly, she explains how a pre-election pledge for class sizes of 18 in Primary 1-3 was never actually a promise, and that there is no such deal on the table now. "It was always an aspiration in general terms," she explains, "in the same way that we pledged 1,000 extra police officers."
6.15 Songs of Praise
The Right Reverend Graham Donaldson leads a service organised by Her Majesty's Inspectors, as educationists from all over Scotland gather in the new Cala wing of the David Stow Building at Jordanhill, to celebrate the wondrous glories of our education system. Included in the selection of hymns are old favourites "Dear Lord and Father of Our Curriculum", "How Great Thou Art, Our School", and the inspirational aria "We Are Going on a Journey to Excellence". The service concludes with Revd Graham leading the congregation in a new chorus:
"How Good is our School?
How Good is our School?
How jolly, jolly good is our school!"
(This chorus is copyright HMIE. But settings for school use are available free of charge on application to Almondvale Music, Livingston EH54 6GA).
An international survey reveals that Scottish pupils top the major European leagues for problem-solving approaches in maths.
7.15 Reporting Scotland Special
An international survey reveals that Scottish pupils are bottom of the European leagues for problem-solving approaches in maths.
7.30 Jobs for the Boys - and Girls
An in-depth documentary examines the booming market in education research. Why is it that the media is willing to report completely contradictory research in quick succession? And how many researchers does it take to state the blindingly obvious, such as "the quality of teachers makes a difference to pupils' education"? Is this not an outrageous waste of educational funds?
8.15 Dr Who
A special seasonal episode. Just who is the mysterious "Doctor" in charge of the Scottish Qualifications Authority? Rumours abound about "low profile approaches", until she breaks cover and announces changes to Higher English in response to goading from secondary "Masters". Has the Doctor fallen for an ambush?
9.00 Dr Who Confidential
A sub-plot emerges in this add-on programme, as we realise that the Doctor was lying low in an attempt to defend the Empire from fearsome attacks by an alien race, the Hisslopps. The threat is serious, as the Hisslopps consider an end to the examination structure as we know it. An intergalactic war to end all wars looks likely, with the Doctor making full use of her sonic screwdriver. Take cover behind the sofa, especially if you work at The Optima Building.
9.45 Dragons' Den
A representative from Learning and Teaching Scotland pitches an idea for investment to a team of entrepreneurs, outlining his vision for an electronic system that links all Scotland's schools through a revolutionary system of broadband-enabled communication. The response from the team of entrepreneurs is not very encouraging. "For a start," explains Duncan Bannatyne, "I think the name's crap. What on earth possessed you to call it Glow?" And Peter Jones is even more scathing: "Let me get this straight. You've already committed the best part of pound;40 million to a system that causes access problems to those authorities which have actually signed up for it, and you're unable to get it used by the rest of the authorities, who either don't trust it or have already developed their own IT management and communication systems that are incompatible with Glow? And you want us to keep investing? I'm sorry, but I'm not 'in' for this ..."
"We're out too," agree the others, and Deborah Meaden comments: "It's just as well you've got the taxpayer behind you on this one - they're usually able to stump up for this kind of non-accountable expenditure." (RM Ltd originally sponsored this programme, but withdrew when preview tapes became available.)
10.15 The Clothes Show
Alex Wood from Wester Hailes introduces a special edition devoted to what the well-dressed pupil about school should wear. "For 20 years I outlawed uniform," she explains, "but now I think it's a wonderful thing." Fiona Hyslop models the favoured new uniform of blazer, tie, mini-skirt and black Britney socks.
10.45 I'm a Celebrity Teacher, Get Me On The Telly!
Highlights from last week's Teaching Awards ceremony at the Coatbridge Community Centre. A selection of worthy dedicated teachers get singled out for no apparent reason and given a nice award.
11.15 Newsnight Scotland
A follow-up studio discussion on teacher awards - are they "vomit-inducing", as some teachers maintain, or just extremely tedious?
11.45 The Sky at Night
Patrick Moore celebrates A Curriculum for Excellence and commends the primary science outcomes, expertly couched as they are in a seven-year-old's language: "I have experienced the wonders of looking at the vastness of the sky."
12.00 The Big Issue
A late-night show that examines former luminaries. This week, Hugh Henry, former Education Minister, bemoans his lot: "This time last year, I was dishing out pound;60 million quid to the Scottish education system. Now I've been reduced to fighting a losing battle to stop my local higher education institution renaming itself the West of Scotland University, just in case anyone realises it's in Paisley and doesn't want to study there. What a life. Could you spare a few bob, please?"
The Right Reverend Graham Donaldson revisits the screen with a closing prayer for all Scottish education establishments.