Robin Buss's pick of the week
BBC2, Thursday, March 9, 2-3am
This new programme represents a significant development in religious education. It looks at the beliefs and values of those who belong to no faith, explaining the meaning of terms such as "atheist", "agnostic" and "humanist", and recalling the history of non-belief in God, from the Greek philosophers to the present day. Is it possible to have a code of ethics that is not backed by an omnipotent being? And what is the point of human life in the absence of a creator? An hour is not too long a time to cover the topic, but it is a start. It is followed at 3am by a repeat of Belief File: Issues, designed to stimulate class discussion about religious views on key social and moral questions. At least two points of view are given on each of the topics, which tonight include abortion and sexuality; there could be some heated debate on those.
BBC2, Tuesdays, March 7-28, 1-1.30pm
A new series designed to encourage an investigative approach to science and to show how experiments and enquiries should be designed and carried out. The series consists of 12 programmes, broadcast each Tuesday in blocks of three 10-minute films, with two for each primary school year, and they are intended to be used in conjunction with the series Science Clips, broadcast in January (and available from BBC School Radio Cassettes and DVDs, tel: 08701 272 272).
BBC2, Thursdays to March 30, 10.45-11am
This new block of 15-minute programmes for five to seven-year-olds with special needs is designed to follow on from the original foundation stage programmes for four to seven-year-olds under the same title. The series uses the sign language Makaton and encourages all viewers to join in the songs, rhymes and other activities, and to express themselves in sign language.
BBC2, Fridays, March 3-31, 10.30-10.50am
It was not all Merrie England... These history films introduce 7 to 11-year-olds to different aspects of life in the 16th century, through the stories of representative characters: a child, a yeoman, a housewife, a merchant and an actor. We learn about clothes and houses, wealth and poverty, work and entertainments, life in town and country, and food. The "Walk Through Time" website has more.
BBC4, Sundays, March 5-19, 8-9pm
This series started last week, but the BBC schedulers had not placed it as last week's paper went to press. However, it's not too late to catch three of the four episodes (and it will probably be repeated later in the year). This Sunday, Dr Michio Kaku looks at the human experience of time, from the perspectives of human history and individual ageing. Next week, he goes on to consider Earth time and cosmic time.