Schools television

25th February 2000 at 00:00

The secret world of the seven-year-olds at Oakdale primary school in Peterborough is an ever-changing theatre in which dramas of passion, aggression, misery, bliss and horror are played out, far from the dull concerns of parents and teachers.

When such excitement is the stuff of life, boredom is a constant threat: "I can't play with my Mum because she's too busy reading the paper . . . Dad's too busy watching the football . . ." Teeth fall out in assembly, there are strangers at the bottom of the drive who might take you away, and if you misbehave you could get caught and be put in jail, which would be "horrible" because "I'd have to eat horrible things like shepherd's pie". For Nicolai, a late arrival, the main question is acceptance by his peers. The secret of where babies come from (or what your friends can tell you about it) is far too appalling to believe - unlike the tooth fairy in Mrs Evans's garden.

Funny and touching, this unsolemn three-part documentary gives a real insight into the concerns of its subjects and shows how hard life can sometimes be, even in Year 3. "I want to get younger, not older," says Louise. At least, we all know how that feels.

The Secret World of Year Three. BBC2. February 29, 9.50-10.30pm. SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT. A series of 15-minute films for the geography series for nine to 13-year-olds, Eureka! looks at Africa through the eyes of itschildren.

Each wek, a film portrait of a child from a different country illustrates some of the many aspects of life on the continent: traditional religion and healing in Swaziland, growing up in Cairo, learning the lore of the forest in Cameroon.

On March 1, we meet Djibrilla, a nomadicTuareg in Niger, as he sets out on a journey with a caravan across the desert to barter livestock for salt. The colour photography, in this episode as throughout the series, is quite stunning.

Eureka! Africa's Child. Channel 4. Wednesdays until February 29(rpt Fridays). 11.30-11.45am. BEST OF THE REST. Channel 4's short season on adoption ends next Tuesday with a film about the placing of one eight-year-old child.

Sarah has a younger brother and sister, anddefinite ideas on thesort of parents she wants for them: tall, with a large house and not too old. Meanwhile, Surreysocial services are also assessing the suitabilityof other prospective parents, who must endure a long period of waiting before they learn whether they will be allowed to adopt.

Like the season as a whole, Fitting Families highlights the criteria used by social services in finding the right match, the aspirations of the children and would-be adoptive parents, and the pain of separation for carers and natural parents - a story, as Sarah agrees "with a happy ending, and some sad bits".

Kids Alone: Fitting Families. Channel 4. February 29, 9-10pm. Robin Buss

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