Schools television

21st January 2000 at 00:00
Pick of the week.

Relationships are one of the enduring complications of adult life, from Bridget Jones to Gemma Warren. So many of us could probably sympathise with Melissa, who introduces the second programme in Channel 4's series In My Experience with admirable sang froid: "I am doing a film about dating and relationships... which is a bit weird because I am not dating anyone at the moment. Hopefully, by the end of the programme I will be."

Melissa is 12 and talks us through her abiding and sadly unrequited passion for Liam with breathtaking maturity and good humour.

She's followed by Josh, who's also 12 and would, he says, kill for his girlfriend Jess because he loves her so much. Jess then dumps him, resulting in a sudden re-evaluation. "Don't go out with girls," he advises any boy stupid enough to contemplate it. "They're just not worth it."

There is much to enjoy on a lighthearted level in this series of video diaries compiled by school students from 12 to 16. They are frank and funny but the intention behind them is serious. Sex education has to improve if we are to halt the UK's terrifying rate of teenage pregnancies and promote a better standard of sexual health all round. There's a resource book for teachers to help support this PSHE unit and it's thorough and to the point. These young presenters will no doubt be excellent role models and seem to have a far greater handle on the subject than most adults I know.

In My Experience, Channel 4, Fridays 10-10.25am, Block transmission January 26, 4.45-6am


Talking of role models, Daniel Holdsworth is another contender. This impish 11-year-old is the star of Dream On, a signed drama for hearing and deaf primary children. He plays the role of Danny, a committed fantasist with a nice line in practical jokes, who enthralls his companions with his energetically mimed stories. He hangs out with Jamal, who is also deaf and over on holiday from the United States. Separated as they are by a common language (English) there is plenty of headscratching going on. Danny struggles to find a comprehensible sign for "pookieman", while Jamal has difficulties trying to convey the word "cool". These programmes have sub-titles, speech and signing, they are superbly acted and scripted and deserve the widest possible audience.

Dream On, Channel 4, Fridays 10.25-10.35am


We begin and end with a series of frank exchanges, this time the series Tuning Into Children on Radio 4. Kirsty Wark is a thoughtful interviewer of a group of five- to nine-year-olds, who confide in her with charming honesty. Their opinions on friendship and what goes on in the playground should prove illuminating to those new to the teaching profession (or even the parenting one). Experts give their views on issues ranging from girl gangs to underachieving boys, identity and bullying, but ultimately the strongest responses are those from the children themselves.

Tuning Into Children. BBC Radio 4. Wednesdays 11.02-11.30am.

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