Global franchises could give Teachers TV the X Factor

5th February 2010 at 00:00
Little lost in translation, with UK output on learning, improvement and leadership already a hit in Thailand

Teachers TV is becoming the X Factor of the education world, with plans progressing to franchise the internationally admired format in Asia, North America and Italy.

The British channel, which brings training into teachers' living rooms, has been winning global fans through its website.

That popularity has resulted in Teachers TV helping Thailand's government to create its own #163;10 million a year version of the service, being launched in April.

In the US, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is conducting a six-month feasibility study into launching an American Teachers TV across the US, and talks on similar ventures are taking place in Australia, Canada and Italy. The publicly funded British version will benefit financially if the projects go ahead.

But Andrew Bethell, Teachers TV chief executive, doubts that he is about to become the educational equivalent of X Factor svengali Simon Cowell.

"Although we started life as a TV channel we are actually more of a CPD (continuous professional development) service," he said.

"When you think of it like that, ideas of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? fade rather quickly.

"It is not going to make me rich and it is not going to make huge inroads into the cost of Teachers TV, although it will make a contribution."

But any money made will be welcome as the channel, which celebrates its fifth birthday this month, had its annual funding from the Department for Children, Schools and Families cut from #163;15 million to #163;10 million last year.

This week, officials from the Thai government and Burapha University, another partner in the project, were at Teachers TV HQ in London taking part in workshops on everything from commissioning to managing production.

When the Thai channel begins offering a full 16-hour-a-day service in the summer a large percentage of its output will be hundreds of existing programmes produced by Teachers TV in England, with Thai subtitles.

Mr Bethell said that despite the differences between the school systems, many programmes translated well.

The Thais were particularly keen on those covering maths, science, geography, citizenship and ICT. Programmes on school improvement issues such as assessment for learning and inclusion had also gone down well, as had a programme on school leadership in Latin America.

"The problems schools face here are faced internationally and people in Thailand are really interested by what we are doing about them," said Mr Bethell. "Despite some of the aspersions cast about our education system it is widely admired around the world."

WEB PLANS PANNED

- Plans by the DCSF and Teachers TV operator consortium Education Digital to provide all content via the Teachers TV website has been given the thumbs down by teachers, according to a new DCSF study which found them "very resistant" to new technologies.

- Three quarters of those who use the service watch programmes via TV rather than downloading information from the website.

Source: Teachers TV, Audience Usage, Qualitative Research Report, DCSF.

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