Repeat, there's more innovation in 'ER'

11th February 2005 at 00:00
"No one talks like that," Ted Wragg told David Bell, the chief inspector, on his new chat show on Teachers' TV.

He was talking about the conclusions reached by inspectors. But he might have been watching this worthy and wordy satellite channel, which launched on Tuesday. Teachers desperate for their education jargon fix could tune into this 24-7 inset day, to see other teachers' classes and gorge on good lessons.

Or embarrassing exceptions. In Inspirations, York head Carole Farrar had to bow to her supply teacher Andy Peacock's superior juggling skills for morning assembly. Teaching with Bayley saw behaviour consultant John Bayley film new teacher John Fuentes gamely explaining tectonic plates to a bored Year 9 class. Afterwards, Mr Fuentes had to watch himself promising the class another 10 minutes of his geology "talk and chalk" - having lectured solo for 15 already. Mr Bayley observed: "You might have been boring for England at this stage." Still, as in all good TV shows, Mr Fuentes involved his charges better next time.

Despite occasionally boring for England, most programmes last only 15 minutes, all within a zippy timetable broken into colour-coded zones - for secondary and primary schools, and general school audiences - and curriculum blocks for easy recording.

BBC science guru Adam Hart-Davis descended the digital programme guide - to somewhere around UK Bright Ideas - to launch this new pound;20 million-a-year channel.

"You decide what you watch and when you watch it," he promised.

In other words, there will be lots of repeats. Some could provoke discussion on training days. Much is resolutely mundane. Just for Governors had three governors role-playing about how to get the council to switch a pedestrian crossing.

Even a discussion about random drug testing managed to be soporific: in School Matters, as a head who tested his pupil was bathed in politically correct jargon by various experts. It was left to his pupils to speak English (and common sense).

There were livelier exceptions, Ted Wragg Meets among them. A sparky jobs show, Careerwise, made employment issues interesting, with a good story of a bullied teacher and a look at those switching careers to become teachers.

But for the most part, the promised "innovative" programming proved elusive. Most shows felt more like teacher trainers' home movies than cutting-edge curriculum guides.

Ninety per cent of teachers apparently told researchers they would tune in.

For Teachers' TV to win out over Desperate Housewives or ER after an evening's marking will require true dedication. But don't worry: there's a "catch-up weekend" and a website for those who falter.

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